The chair is dead, long live the chair!

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The shock resignation of Justice Lowell Goddard as chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) last week, offered in a perfunctory two-line letter without explanation, followed by a statement that likewise gave little away, initially brought howls of outrage against the New Zealand-based lawyer, claiming victims would see it as a betrayal; but this was soon followed by hints that she had actually been sacked.

My guess is that she was indeed pushed, because her incompetence after 18 months in the job was becoming an unsustainable public embarrassment. She had shown herself to be confused by “local law” i.e. English law, and even fell down on the basic role of a judge during a hearing, failing to invite opposing arguments in the normal way. But there is also reason to believe she was set up to fail. So, was this an Establishment plot, as was immediately alleged by the “survivor” lobby in line with their long-standing devotion to conspiracy theory?

Not exactly. What I have in mind is a conspiracy of just one person, and if you think that is a contradiction in terms you are technically correct, although I was once the sole convicted conspirator in a case of conspiracy to corrupt public morals, so do not underestimate life’s capacity for turning up impossible things!

As for the prime and only suspect in this “plot”, or Machiavellian manoeuvring, we do not need to look far: Theresa May, now Prime Minister, was the Home Secretary responsible for installing Goddard, after the first two incumbents in the job, Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss and Dame Fionna Woolf had both fallen victim to the victim lobby. Both had been seen as Establishment stooges who would guarantee a cover-up of “Westminster VIP paedophilia”, then the obsession of the moment, as celebrity paedos had been immediately post-Savile.

So why would Theresa May want to set up Goddard to fail? Same reason she has given the Three Brexiteers jobs in her government. The referendum vote meant that May, a Remain supporter, has had Brexit foisted on her government. Very well then, let those who got the country into this mess be the ones given the impossible task – as she quite likely sees it – of making it work. When they fail, they will be the ones seen to have failed rather than the Prime Minister. Smart!

The Home Secretary, as she then was, also had a pretty shrewd idea the IICSA was in deep trouble too. As with the referendum result, which she could not defy because it had majority support, she could not simply drop the IICSA either: the powerful victim lobby would have been baying for her blood and would have swept her from office before you could say “lying compo seekers” or “attention-seeking fantasists”. Instead, in a move of stunning cunning, she gave the “survivors” exactly what they wanted, in the full knowledge that far from surviving, they would soon be shipwrecked again.

There is a wealth of evidence for this. Lauded for her careful attention to detail, Theresa May would most assuredly have done due diligence on Goddard. She would have known the New Zealander was not all she was cracked up to be. Superficially she seemed well qualified. You don’t get to be a QC for nothing, she had a long record of supposedly distinguished service on top public bodies, and as a judge her nickname in her home country was God, which suggests a certain level of esteem.

What May would also have known, though, is that Goddard’s high-flying reputation was “earned” not for genuine public service but the exact opposite. As Heretic TOC pointed out when she was given the IICSA gig, a survey of New Zealand judges gave her the lowest possible rating. She was ranked 63rd out of 63! Legal commentator Vince Siemer noted that many lawyers were “extremely critical” of Goddard’s “opportunistic public stances, liberties with the truth and contrarian judgments”. On his website Kiwis First, he said she was widely seen by lawyers as a political puppet – the sort of person who would do the Establishment’s bidding in order to advance her career.

But as Siemer hints, that is precisely what May might have found attractive. She would have understood that Goddard, rather than doing the right thing – which might mean opposing the survivor lobby’s injudicious “always believe the victim” dogma and their demands for an unfeasibly huge, unfocused inquiry – could be relied upon to just go with the flow, even if that inevitably meant eventual disaster. But that wouldn’t matter because by then May would probably have moved on to some other job, such as, oh, I don’t know, Prime Minister or whatever!

Goddard even had “form” with her excuses. In her departure statement, she referred to how hard it had been for her to leave her family behind, as if she had failed to realise, when offered the job, that Britain and New Zealand are on opposite sides of the planet. This was reminiscent of the over-privileged whinging she used in order to advance her earlier career, for Siemer tells us “She was appointed to the Independent Police Conduct Authority after she complained sitting on long cases in the High Court was too stressful on her back.” He continues, “Her days on the IPCA were mired in secrecy, political manoeuvring and tardy rulings.  She routinely sided with Crown immunity, suppression of information and against human rights.”

And, most pertinently, he asked:

So what did the Home Secretary mean when she assured MPs … that Goddard’s Inquiry will not be thwarted by the Official Secrets Act in an investigation which will delve into governmental department files in circumstances where there appears to be complicity by officials in the scandal?  A hint might lie in comments of the ‘fixer’ Home Secretary May has appointed.  “The inquiry will be long, challenging and complex,” forewarned Goddard J.

Experience tells us you can take Goddard J’s assessment to the bank.  Hopefully the British prefer an exhaustive and complex inquiry to an accurate and transparent outcome.

Exhaustive and complex it is certainly set up to be. The sheer immensity of the scale has necessitated the employment of 155 inquiry staff in dedicated offices around the country, dozens of lawyers have been expensively engaged, the projected cost has ballooned to £100 million, and – get this – hundreds of new allegations are arriving each month. The most recent report I have seen puts the figure even higher: the current rate of new allegations being forwarded to the inquiry team, according to the Mail on Sunday, is running at more than 100 a day.

It now looks entirely possible that the volume of allegations could outpace even this huge inquiry’s capacity to deal with them, so the endpoint, originally targeted at 2020, could keep getting further and further into the future. So instead of just one more successor, Goddard could be followed by a whole chain of them, linking from century to century like the kings and queens of England – an absurdity one might think would be terminated by the inevitable death of the victims, and hence their inability to give testimony or be cross-examined. But you never know these days: Jimmy Savile, Lord Janner and others have been pursued beyond the grave, so don’t underestimate the ingenuity of the victims’ descendents. It could all end up like Jarndyce and Jarndyce!

Actually, forget the cross-examination. In addition to the public hearings, the inquiry has set up a “Truth Project”, enabling anyone claiming to be “victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experiences with the Inquiry. Their accounts will not be tested, challenged, or contradicted.” In true Orwellian style, the inquiry will thus facilitate fantasy but call it truth!

The inquiry is supposed to be investigating a range of institutions, including local authorities, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Immigration Service, the BBC, the armed forces, schools, hospitals, children’s homes, churches, mosques and other religious organisations, charities and voluntary organisations, regulators and other public and private institutions. The inquiry’s website tells us “It will also examine allegations of child sexual abuse involving well known people, including people in the media, politics, and other aspects of public life.” It will consider historic allegations going back to 1945. Whew! Even just reading the list is exhausting, never mind investigating it.

The opening session of the IISCA, which has yet to hear any actual evidence after 18 months, involved preliminaries concerning alleged abuse within the Anglican Church. Those present heard that the Archbishops’ Council alone had handed over 7,000 “items of disclosure”. According to one press report, this would be “a mere drop in the ocean of paperwork”. Ben Emmerson QC, the Counsel to the Inquiry, warned that “There are 100,000 items in the archive, which mostly comprises individual children’s files, and some 26,000 boxes of material held in locations around the country.”

This is utter madness. What on earth is supposed to be the point? It has nothing to do with justice. The inquiry is passing new allegations to the police, but that course is always open to complainants anyway. As for institutions, rather than enabling them to learn lessons from past mistakes, probing ever deeper into their history will only reveal what is abundantly known already: the past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. As Luke Gittos wrote in Spiked, the IICSA seems to be just an extremely expensive form of therapy for disturbed people – disturbed for all sorts of reasons, not necessarily past sexual abuse – who want someone to talk to and make them feel important.

That might be a valuable exercise were it not for its huge cost, not only in terms of its massive commandeering of resources but also because it is even more grievously expensive in another way. The inquiry’s work, like the black farce recently seen in the disastrous police investigations of alleged VIP paedophilia, is likely to come at the expense of innocent people. It is bad enough when the reputations of deceased individuals such as former Prime Minister Edward Heath and former Home Secretary Leon Brittan, are baselessly trashed; this dangerously undermines confidence in public life as well as causing needless distress to families and friends. And it is far worse when it wrecks the lives and careers of the living, such as the unfortunate former MP Harvey Proctor, who has called for the IICSA to be dismantled, saying the inquiry was “in thrall to every fantasist alive”.

Even the mainstream media are now beginning to take the point. As David Rose, writing in the Mail on Sunday, put it:

It is a truth that if publicity is given to allegations that a famous person once committed acts of sexual abuse, many others will pile in with similar claims. Some may be genuine, but the multi-million-pound industry run by lawyers seeking damages for abuse ‘survivors’ has established a strong financial motive for those prepared to lie. And where police, politicians, and, yes, public inquiries have made clear that their bias is towards ‘believing the victims’, there is little risk of such perjury being exposed.

Your Honour, I rest my case.

 

NOT JUST YOUR AVERAGE SURVEY

The plethora of investigations into “child sexual abuse” (CSA) is matched by a torrent of surveys on the subject. Here in the UK most of them seem to be published by the NSPCC in its annual report, which I swear comes out monthly.

But the latest survey, by the respected Office for National Statistics (ONS), is far more authoritative and will be worth studying carefully. So for that reason I will make no comment on the figures at present but simply say that they are being touted as “the first official estimates of their kind in the world”. They are based on asking adults to recall sexual encounters experienced during their childhood.

The ONS survey asked about all kinds of abuse, not just sexual. That is good, and there is no problem, in theory at least, with the definition of “abuse” that is used in relation to sexual encounters. The report quite properly defines abuse in terms of harm. It quotes approvingly a definition taken from a document called Working Together to Safeguard Children, which  defines abuse as: “A form of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm.” Turning specifically to sexual abuse, the survey includes “sexual assault by an adult”, which is further specified as “sexual assault by rape or penetration (including attempts)” and also “other sexual assault – this includes indecent exposure and unwanted touching/kissing of a sexual nature” [My emphasis].

Here is the problem: it seems no questions were asked about wanted or acceptable sexual contacts. Unless that possibility is spelled out, what is the respondent supposed to report? My guess is that most would feel they were meant to report any sexual contact with an adult, even if it was desired, based on the fact that below the age of consent their willing participation does not amount to legally valid consent. Thus I suspect that the figures would only be truly meaningful if accompanied by the respondent’s own personal rating of the contact, perhaps on a scale ranging from “Very negative” to “Very positive”.

Exposé outfit murders its own credibility

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Another day, another hysteric – sorry, historic – enquiry in Britain. The police complaints body has launched an investigation into, oh, load and loads of vaguely rumoured “child sex offences” in London from as far back as the 1970s.

The big excitement, though, was on the BBC’s Newsnight on 16 March, which trumpeted a claim that police were forced to abandon a cast-iron case against a VIP “paedophile ring” in 1981 after they had obtained video footage of the men in question actually engaging in hot action with teenage boys at a flat in Coronation Buildings, Lambeth, less than a mile away from parliament. An order had come from on high that the matter should be dropped “in the national interest”. Among those caught in the act was said to have been the Liberal MP Cyril Smith and a “senior member of Britain’s intelligence agencies”; there was also evidence against “two senior police officers”.

My hunch, having seen the Newsnight programme, is that this is more than just the usual hype, and that properly sourced police testimony may in due course be forthcoming from officers involved in the Coronation Buildings operation, especially if they can be assured that the Official Secrets Act will not be used against them. Never mind that the BBC’s information came from a single unnamed police source whom they have never seen because he spoke through an intermediary; never mind that this informant was said merely to have been “familiar with the original investigation” rather than a part of it; never mind that dozens of other officers on the case could have come forward to spill the beans but so far have not; never mind the apparent absence of “victims” making complaints at this point.

All these good reasons for scepticism can reasonably be put aside. Those of us who are old enough will recall that teenage rent boys and members of parliament (especially Tory ones) were an accepted item in those days. Everyone knew they went together: not as respectably as love and marriage, perhaps, but as routinely as a horse and carriage. And so did cover-ups: a Tory chief whip even went on record to say part of his job was in effect to blackmail MPs who had things to hide, letting it be known he would keep quiet about their extra-marital affairs, or penchant for “small boys”, in return for them towing the party line.

All very scandalous, no doubt; but the real scandal these days is not sexual at all. Rather, it is the dangerous perversion of truth to which sensationalist journalism is now giving rise, driven on by our debased victim culture and populist politics. Convinced by nothing more than relentless empty propaganda that Jimmy Savile was guilty of crimes worse than Islamic State beheadings, the public also seemed receptive to claims late last year that boys were murdered some decades ago by powerful Establishment figures.

Such claims lack credibility unless they can be tied to particular youngsters who went permanently missing from that time onwards and who might have taken part in the alleged “sex parties”. No such individuals have been suggested. Also, as I said recently, another factor that makes me doubt the credibility of the “allegators”, as blogger Anna Raccoon aptly dubs them, is that one of them made what to me were obviously false claims about sadistic abuse by my old friends Charles Napier and Peter Righton.

That was in January, in an Exaro News report featuring a source they called “Darren”, who appears to be an ex-rent boy. Apparently Exaro liked his story so much they asked him for more, and Darren obligingly came up the following month with an even stronger yarn against Peter. This time he remembered a murder that had somehow slipped his mind in January: in this new version, Darren had personally seen Peter Righton brutally attack a man called Andrew, leaving him fatally wounded.

It wasn’t just any old attack, either. Oh, no. The unfortunate Andrew was torn apart when tied between two vehicles that slowly reversed away from each other, one driven by Righton the other by “another man”! The demonic Righton had even made Andrew dig his own grave beforehand!

I kid you not, Exaro is inviting everyone to take this fanciful bullshit seriously, and it seems plenty of people are buying into it.

So who are these people, Exaro News? Set up in 2011 by a city tycoon, this exposé outfit now has former Guardian journalist David Hencke on its core staff. It was Henke who is said to have passed Tom Watson MP evidence of “child abuse” at the Elm Guest House, leading to a police investigation, “Operation Fernbridge”. Exaro and its journalists have been nominated for a number of top awards and actually won a few as well. Editor-in-chief Mark Watts has been profiled in the Guardian.

With all this kudos, one might expect standards to be high. But that is not how it works, alas. Fortunately, scepticism over claims like those of “Darren” remains strong in significant areas of public life, including the legal profession and academia.

Criminal law barrister Matthew Scott, for instance, blogged about his misgivings last year in “Exaro News Is Playing A Dangerous Game With Its Paedophile Murder Story”.
This was in response to the agency’s earlier VIP murder “investigation”, based on allegations made by another anonymous source, dubbed “Nick”.

Exaro, in collaboration with the Sunday People, alleged, in the words of the blog, that “a Tory MP strangled a 12-year-old brown haired boy in a central London town house in 1980. Apparently, 18 months to two years later two other men murdered a second boy in front of another Tory MP, ‘a cabinet minister’. Both MPs are ‘still alive’. Its source is a man in his 40s to whom they have given the pseudonym ‘Nick’. Exaro even mentions rumours of a third child murdered by being run over in the street, though I don’t think Nick claims to have actually seen more than one murder.”

Scott suggests that Exaro, along with the Sunday People and also the BBC, who aired an interview with “Nick”, acted “extremely unwisely by catapulting him into the public domain”.

These interviews had given extremely detailed accounts, which ran the risk of wrecking any police investigation because the testimony of any witnesses who might later come forward would have greatly reduced value: they could easily just be copy cats. This would inevitably play a part in the defence of any accused person, and a guilty person might escape justice because any good and true evidence would be seen as contaminated and unsafe.

Scott continues in this lawyerly vein for quite a while, and rightly so, but it is the commonsense scepticism in the latter part of his article that really takes the eye, beginning with the story of Carol Felstead:

There is nothing new about allegations being made against Tory politicians of the period, and they are not necessarily truthful. A not dissimilar account of Conservative Party MPs being involved in sexual abuse was given in the 1990s by someone called Carol Felstead and it provides a cautionary tale for anyone who might wish to rush to judgement. According to Carol’s therapists, she was anally raped in Conservative Central Office by a Tory MP with a claw hammer, and raped by not one but two members of Mrs Thatcher’s cabinet.

Just like Nick, Carol supposedly said she was abused first by her parents. She had been “ritually reborn out of a bull’s stomach, placed in a grave ‘on top of her dead sister’ and rescued by her father who was dressed as the Devil.” She later claimed to have given birth to six children who were then aborted and ritually sacrificed.

Felstead had told this story not to Exaro but to the notorious Dr Valerie Sinason, who incorporated some of it (changing Carol’s name to “Rita”) into the work that made her name: Treating Survivors of Satanist Abuse.

Sinason’s work has since been widely discredited, along with the entire satanic abuse fad, as I pointed out in “Compared to Sinason, Savile was a saint”. Likewise, Scott takes her down a peg or three and adds a truly scandalous bit of information, telling us she specialised, and is still paid by the NHS to specialise, in the treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder, itself a controversial diagnosis.

So much for Sinason. As for Carol Felstead, Scott leaves us in no doubt what her story amounted to:

Now, despite the detailed and distressing history supposedly given by Carol to her therapists, her accounts of abuse at the hands of her parents were demonstrable nonsense. The family house had indeed burned down, but it did so a year before she was born so she could not possibly have remembered it as she said. She did have a sister who died in infancy, a girl who suffered from Down’s syndrome and died in hospital from natural causes; again she did so before Carol was even born. As for the Satanic abuse, her four surviving brothers all agree that nothing of the sort took place and there is no evidence of it whatever from any other source. There was no coven, no witch-craft and no murdered babies: indeed her medical records show that she had never been pregnant. Her extraordinary story of being raped by politicians was likewise fantasy of a high order.

Likewise, Scott is admirably sceptical about even the sex parties at Dolphin Square, never mind the murders:

The reasons to doubt the existence of such a ring are legion. What were these boys doing when they were not at Dolphin Square sex parties? Were they kept in complete isolation? Did they stop going to school, for example, or never speak to anybody outside the paedophile ring? The Exaro line seems to be that they were so terrified by the fact that the men in question were powerful that they did not expose the ring while it was active. Are we really to believe that these “powerful people” were so sure that their affairs could be kept secret from the press and, still more, from their political rivals, that they kept returning to the orgies? When even a tame affair like that of Cecil Parkinson with his secretary could lead to political disgrace; when journalists were constantly scouring Westminster for a whiff of scandal and when political rivals would have been delighted to ditch the dirt on their enemies it seems – as Exaro themselves acknowledge – very unlikely indeed.

Quite so, although, as I said at the outset, I am not so sceptical about the sex side: even the most intelligent and rational of men often think with their dick: just ask Bill Clinton or, even better, Hillary. What they would definitely not do, I suggest, is be so reckless as to murder anyone in the devil-may-care manner suggested by both “Nick” and “Darren”, casually leaving witnesses like them who might at any time tell the tale.

If Matthew Scott is a good example of sensible scepticism in legal circles, what about one from the academic world? News has just reached me from an unlikely source, the Lancashire Magazine, of a very encouraging show of academic good sense at Edinburgh University, where a research project is underway in connection with the allegations against Jimmy Savile.

The article in question, “Jimmy Savile ‘Moral Panic’ Tracked By Computer In Dordogne”, is based on an archive of private social media discussions between the women who later came forward to claim they were sexually abused by the late entertainer. Forty years ago the women had been teenagers at the Duncroft Approved School, an experimental boarding school opened by the Home Office to give a second chance of education for girls of above-average intelligence who had been taken into care.

The owner of the archive was a retired English lawyer living in the Dordogne region of France. She lived in care at Duncroft in 1965 and 1966. Her name was Susanne Cameron-Blackie, better known to many heretics here as – wait for it – the blogger Anna Raccoon!

Yes, Anna, or Susanne, is right at the heart of this story. Her wonderful, detailed, sceptical analyses of the claims against Savile have been highlighted here at Heretic TOC on several occasions, so I am sure we will all be delighted to hear that her work has won academic appreciation and government funding for a follow-up project.

It was a serious illness that first prompted Susanne to contact Edinburgh University. In 2013, fearing she might not survive a forthcoming cancer operation in France, she sent an email to Professor Viviene Cree at the Edinburgh University School of Social and Political Science, explaining the situation and saying she hoped the university would provide a good home for her archive. That summer the Economic and Social Research Council activated its Urgency Grants Mechanism to form a research team for the recovery and collation of documents and the information stored on Anna Raccoon’s computer in the Dordogne. The full story of the research team and its project are set out in the Lancashire Magazine’s article and is recommended reading.

It really is splendid news. Sadly, though, we also learn that Susanne is still suffering from cancer. She continues to blog as Anna Raccoon but says her doctors have not given her long to live. In the circumstances, it might be a nice gesture if readers could tweet their congratulations on her academic triumph, and/or more general appreciation and best wishes, to her at @AnnaRaccoon1, or email annaraccoon2010@gmail.com.

An Idiot’s Guide to the Westminster Bubble

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Charming and disarming, a not too critical critic of Heretic TOC wrote on another blog recently that “There comes a point when even the best argument becomes too well written, too well researched and too learned. An Idiot’s Guide to both Stephen Hawking’s and TOC’s theories would be appreciated….” It must be admitted that the “punitive state” piece last time was a bit relentlessly heavy on the theory, although the number and quality of the comments, plus over 300 hits per day, suggests there is interest.

This time, then, for a little light relief (relatively speaking!), TOC brings you a taste of his adventures last week inside the Westminster Bubble, an experience more akin to Alice in Wonderland than to other phenomena with which it might be confused, such as the South Sea Bubble.

American readers will be familiar with the bubble concept from their own expression Inside the Beltway, or the Washington Bubble, denoting an intensely political world, peopled almost entirely by politicians, government officials and media folk who spend so much time incestuously preoccupied with each other that they lose touch with the realities of life outside their privileged zone.

Or so it is claimed. The real truth, though, is that these clever people have sharp political antennae, which is how they keep their power and influence: they need to stay alert in all sorts of ways, paying attention not just to opinion polls and focus group research but also to those who turn up in person to lobby them, from corporate interests (especially!) to activist groups of every hue.

Which is where my London trip comes in. I was there for a whole bunch of personal lobbying, networking and media reasons, and also to participate in various rallies, protests and debates.

Two of these events were in the Palace of Westminster itself, aka the Houses of Parliament, starting with Challenging the Campus Censors. Held in the Grand Committee Room with a panel of speakers, this saw the launch of the Free Speech University Rankings (FSUR) by the journal Spiked. What FSUR devastatingly demonstrates, sadly is the extent to which freedom of expression is being eroded in the very institutions where it is most vitally needed if any sort of heresy – including but not limited to the Heretic TOC variety – is to survive the onslaught of hegemonic political correctness.

Back in the 1970s I appeared by invitation at a number of universities, mainly to address student gay societies on paedophilia and children’s sexual freedom. There were neither objections by the university authorities nor any attempt by students to No Platform me*. After speaking at Cambridge University, I was treated very hospitably by the organisers: they took me to hear (and of course see!) the choirboys perform evensong at King’s College. Those were the days!

In my case, the high watermark of this openness to heresy was a prestigious invitation from the president of the Oxford Union to address that august debating society, possibly the world’s most famous; its speakers have included three US presidents, top scientists from Einstein to Hawking, and celebrities of all kinds from Michael Jackson to Kermit the Frog. Ahead of the event, though, the university was subjected to heavy media pressure against my appearance, and the invitation was withdrawn.

We all know how the sorry saga has played out since then in terms of paedophilia as a There Is No Debate (TIND) issue. What I discovered to my horror, though, from FSUR and related revelations last week, is the extent to which free speech is now being denied on campus across a whole range of issues. As Ian Dunt told us in the Guardian:

“In recent months, Oxford University cancelled a debate on abortion because protesters objected to the fact it was being held between two men; the Cambridge Union was asked (but refused) to withdraw its speaking invitation to Germaine Greer because of her views on transgender issues; officials at London Southbank took down a “flying spaghetti monster” poster because it might cause religious offence; UCL banned the Nietzsche Club after it put up posters saying “equality is a false God”, and Dundee banned the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children from their freshers’ fair. The Sun is banned on dozens of campuses because of Page 3. Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines song has also been banned by many student unions.”

Note, especially, the relevance here of this last one: the lyrics are about sexual consent.

The curious thing, to someone of my generation at least, is that the censorious spirit is not coming from above, from heavy-handed political or administrative quarters. It is not state censorship. Rather, TIND reflects what seems to be a new fragility among the students themselves, who are arriving at university from a school culture in which they have grown used to seeing themselves as in need of protection, reflecting a wider cultural background in which child protection is seen as a priority. It reflects specifics of their cultural environment, such as school anti-bullying policies, and also their exposure to what is admittedly sometimes a brutally obnoxious scene of social media trolling. Feeling (with every justification) that being subjected to violent threats and venomous defamation online is just plain wrong and unacceptable, these youngsters are turning up at university believing they are entitled to remain shielded from “offensive” views of all kinds. They do not seem to realise that new but potentially important ideas are often shocking, and that a university is a grownup place whether intellectual debate needs to be unfettered.

The following day I was back in the palace, this time supporting Hacked Off, which Spiked muddle-headedly presents as a group lobbying against free speech. Hacked Off, as British heretics will know, was set up in the wake of revelations that newspapers including the now defunct News of the World, and the Sun, both owned by global media baron Rupert Murdoch (whose other crimes against humanity include Fox News), were engaged in illegal phone hacking and libellous smear tactics – including the infamous Fake Sheikh’s sting operations which have resulted in innocent people being jailed and many other lives shattered. As heretics here may remember, I was among those on the receiving end.

Where Spiked gets it wrong is in confusing the “right” of a handful of mega-rich media moguls to trash people as viciously, mendaciously and unaccountably as a Twitter troll, with the right of all of us to legitimate (non-libellous, not inciting violence) freedom of expression. The latter right, in Hacked Off’s view and mine, will be advanced, not retarded, by such means as giving a strengthened right of reply to those who are traduced in the press, and encouraging wider media ownership. Hacked off also supports the recent Leveson Inquiry report, which recommended measures aimed at securing a more independent press complaints body than the toothless Press Complaints Commission.

Hacked Off’s rally was in Committee Room 14, which turned out to be an even grander venue than the Grand Committee Room. When I think of a committee I have in mind no more than about 25 people, but about ten times that number were present for Hacked Off’s big day, packed along two sets of opposing benches like a miniature version of parliament itself. When I arrived, slightly late after an appointment with my MP, I was lucky to get the last seat before my attention turned to a distinguished-looking, silver-haired old gentleman who was holding forth as one of the panel speakers.

The voice seemed familiar. Then it struck me: John Cleese! Goodness, it was a face I probably hadn’t seen since The Life of Brian over thirty years ago. Anyway, he was on good form, blasting the new Independent Press Standards Body (IPSO) as anything but independent, saying it was designed to be a puppet of the big corporations, with editors given a key role, like setting foxes in charge of the henhouse. Actually, he had his own comparison, a rather good one:

“Of course they want to regulate themselves, we’d all like to regulate ourselves wouldn’t we?” he said. “Builders, accountants, murderers, they’d all like to regulate themselves.” He added: “The murderers would make a very good case – they’d say we murdered a lot of people, we know people who have murdered people. We really are best qualified to regulate.”

Dramatically, these remarks led within just a few minutes to the verbal murder of a particular journalist present in the room, one Mr Alex Wickham. Allow me to announce it Cluedo style: he was attacked by the chairman, in the committee room, with some very blunt accusations!

Wickham, as the chairman revealed, is a sleazeball sting artist working with political blog Guido Fawkes. The scurrilous scribe had immediately tweeted what Cleese said, in a message falsely implying the comedy actor had seriously compared the newspaper bosses to murderers. In a trice, news of this tweet got back to the committee room, where the chairman outed and admonished Wickham, saying he didn’t know how he could sleep at night, doing what he did. There were calls around the room for the malefactor to stand up and be seen.

The pressure must have got to the hounded hack, because he meekly stood up, as he had been ordered, and tried to explain himself. He didn’t get far before he was slapped down by the chair, who said, “Sit down, I don’t want to give you a platform as you have a megaphone”.

I didn’t feel sorry for Wickham, who is a double-dyed shit. I did, however, find myself a bit uneasy over the kangaroo court I had witnessed. And I noted, also, that one of the later speakers was a dreary feminist of the most humourless kind, who spent her allotted time at the mic grinding out a litany of demands for new press standards including a requirement that the term “under-age sex” should be replaced with “child rape”. Alarmingly, she was given a substantial round of applause.

Maybe Spiked has got it at least half-right after all.

Looking beyond Westminster, it has been another extraordinary week in Britain’s disastrous post-Savile Cultural Revolution, worth half a dozen separate blogs at least. Sadly, I’ll have to settle for a few brief news items with links.

* I tell a lie. The relaxed atmosphere changed once PIE hit the headlines in a big way. After that, in 1977, PIE speakers, including me, were No Platformed a lot. In Liverpool, for instance, I was not only prevented from speaking at the university, I was also banned by the Liverpool Hoteliers Association from staying in any of their hotels!  

 

JAIL EVERYONE IN THE LAND, DEMANDS PM

Well, not quite everyone, but British prime minister David Cameron made a giant leap towards outright insanity by insisting it’s not good enough just to jail “abusers”; now he wants to put teachers, social workers and local councillors behind bars if they fail to meet his stringent witch-hunting targets. Coming in the wake of a report on the “grooming” of teenage girls Oxfordshire by ethnic minority males , the move is a blatantly populist piece of pre-election gesture politics. As letter-writers to the Guardian and others have pointed out, the main result will be to further discourage anyone from working with children in professions already suffering from low pay and low prestige. On the Oxfordshire situation, these reports are very revealing, although not necessarily in the way their writers intended: see professionals and kingfisher.

 

TOUCHING IS WORSE THAN TORTURING

Glam rock star Gary Glitter was jailed for 16 years for under-age sex with three girls. His offences, though serious, appear to have been essentially of a “statutory rape” kind plus lesser intimacies rather than truly violent: the three girls in question were his fans. The youngest was eight. A mother who tortured her eight-year-old daughter to death received a lesser sentence, of 13 years. The court heard that her lesbian lover convinced her that the child was possessed by demons and had to be “destroyed”. The women would give the little girl cold baths, force feed her until she was sick and make her scrub the bathroom floor to rid her of “evil spirits”. She died from a blow to the head at her home. What does this contrast say about our society’s values?

 

RACCOON WRESTLES WITH ‘ALLEGATORS’

The indefatigable Anna Raccoon has again been wrestling the ‘allegators’ in the Savile case on her wonderful blog, exposing the paucity of allegation after allegation. See her Home Page and scroll down for five recent blogs with Savile in the title. To my mind, though Anna’s most devastating recent piece was Alphabet Soup and Paedo Hysteria. which looks at the work of Kevin Harrington, the author of Serious Case Reviews on real child abuse, ranging from Child ‘A’ in London, through Child ‘C’ in Portsmouth, onwards to Child ‘K’ in Southampton and beyond. These are ghastly cases like the torture/death one above, most of which never even make the national headlines. As Anna points out, instead of pouring in resources to prevent these cases, money, effort and attention is wasted on paedo hysteria instead.

 

ONE THAT FLEW UNDER THE GAYDAR

To finish on a pleasanter note, Wendy Fenwick in the March/April edition of Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, reviews Craig Johnson’s recent film The Skeleton Twins, which sounds good, although way too gay for my taste. Anyone seen it? She writes:

[Milo’s] first sexual experience was with a high school teacher when the lad was only fifteen. It was a huge deal when it happened – things were settled quietly, we learn – but Milo isn’t completely over the relationship and in fact seeks out the teacher, named Rich, with thoughts of reviving the affair. Thus has the movie entered that radioactive territory of “intergenerational sex,” otherwise known as pederasty. What’s surprising is that the film doesn’t indulge in the usual hand-wringing over Rich’s turpitude or dwell on how Milo was traumatized for life by the affair. In fact, Milo wasn’t traumatized at all and insists that it was not only consensual but a positive experience in his early gay life. …I’m surprised it didn’t trigger more controversy than it did, including threats of a boycott.

Even Daily Mail critic Brian Viner allowed himself to like it, perhaps because the overall context is a gentle romcom not a fiercely challenging drama.

Hi, this is Charles. I’ve been a naughty boy…

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Like Chris Denning, about whom I wrote last time, Charles Napier was a very bright spark – witty, charming, the life and soul of the party.

Even the judge who sentenced him to thirteen years just before Christmas admitted that as a popular (not feared) young prep school teacher in the 1960s and 70s Charles for the most part charmed the pants off his mainly pre-teen pupils, whatever his principal accuser, cry-baby journalist Francis Whine (sorry, Wheen), might claim.

I will return to his accusations, taking them seriously along with much worse allegations that Charles appears to have made no attempt to deny. He told the court he had been “completely out of control” and was “desperately sorry” for his actions. To my mind, incidentally, these were significant expressions of remorse, but that didn’t stop the media quoting a police chief who asserted he had shown “no remorse”: damning opinion is apparently to be preferred over facts even when the latter are right there in plain view. Also, the judge appears to have given Charles no credit for his expressions of regret. All that surfaced publicly, so far as I can see, is that he would have got twenty years but for the fact that he pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

For the moment, as with Chris Denning, I am going remember the better side of the man I knew. I met Charles when I joined the executive committee of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) in the mid-1970s. He joined the organisation at the start of its London operation, some months before me. Like his friend the late Peter Righton, who was also one of the first PIE committee members while working as Director of Education for the National Institute of Social Work, he has been presented in the media as an elite paedophile, and possibly part of a sinister ring of perverted high-ups.

Being a humble peasant myself, I never moved socially in such elevated circles, if they existed. But Charles undeniably has an upper class pedigree. He is a descendant of King Charles II of England, no less, via Lady Sarah Lennox, the king’s great-granddaughter, who married General Sir Charles James Napier. Gen. Napier commanded the British army in India in Victorian times and was famous in those days for conquering Sindh in what is now Pakistan. To this day the general’s statue is a towering presence in Trafalgar Square, London, occupying one of the four plinths. There have been leading figures in the family’s recent past and Charles has a half-brother, John Whittingdale, who is currently the Conservative MP for Maldon and Chelmsford East.

So Charles was posh. His racy sports car spoke of a penchant for swagger and swank, while his handsome mien and gracious manner suggested the hero of a bodice-ripping romantic novel. One could easily imagine him as a dashing officer, as his forbear the victor of Sindh must once have been, with all the young ladies swooning over him.

He was cultured, too, and clever. Not for nothing was he appointed to a senior role with the British Council in Cairo. But for his career being a “chequered” one, with several falls from grace over boys, he could well have become head of the entire outfit, and thus in effect the UK’s official cultural ambassador to the world. He was also a talented actor and singer in amateur productions. Above all, like Charles II, the Merry Monarch, he was lively and had a tremendous sense of fun: even Wheen admits that his young “sir”, Mr Napier, was a dazzling, exciting figure.

Not that his jolly japes were just for the kids. Back in the days when telephone answering machines were a novelty, subscribers had to make their own “please leave a message” tape recording. Most of us simply announced our name and number and invited callers to leave a message at the beep. Not Charles. His tape started something like this:

Hi, this is Charles. Sorry, I’m tied up at the moment, but if you’d like to leave a message…

In the background you could hear why he was tied up: there was a fearsome thrashing sound followed by yelps of ecstatic “pain” as Charles was punished by a stern dominatrix (one of his fellow thespians, no doubt) telling him he had been “a naughty boy”.

Well, plenty of people would say he got that right, wouldn’t they? The judge last week obviously thought he had been really, really naughty, in fact properly wicked.

Should we agree with him? It’s time to face the facts insofar as they can be gleaned from dubious mainstream press reports. Those accounts, it should be pointed out, were dominated by the perspective of just one individual, and I don’t mean the judge or a really traumatised victim. I refer instead to the man I have already dubbed the principal accuser, Francis Wheen, now deputy editor of the satirical magazine Private Eye, who has been banging on about Charles for decades. It was apparently Wheen’s testimony that led to the arrest in August last year of the man who had been his teacher at Copthorne School.

Way back in 1996 Wheen had a piece in the Guardian (28 August) headlined “School for Scandal”. He wrote:

Charles Napier was my gym master at prep school – and a very good gym master too, always willing to lend a hand (quite literally) as the boys practised their back-flips and head-stands.

From time to time he would invite his favourites into a small workshop next to the gym, where he plied us with Senior Service untipped and bottles of Mackeson before plunging his busy fingers down our shorts. Although I rejected his advances, I continued to help myself to beer ’n’ cigs from his secret depot when he wasn’t around. It never occurred to me to report him to the authorities. Why? Because he was the authorities.

Complaining about a teacher was as unthinkable as refusing to participate in a cross-country run. Anyway, no 11-year-old boy wishes to parade his sexual innocence: Napier warned me – and many others – that by refusing to cooperate we were merely demonstrating our immaturity.

“X lets me do it you know,” he said, naming a class-mate of mine. For weeks afterwards, X sneered at me for my squeamishness.

Several very similar rehashes of this account were published in later years, the latest being only this week in the Daily Mirror.

But there have been subtle changes, too, as time has passed. On BBC TV news on the evening after sentencing, Wheen spoke in scandalised tones about having been taken aback when Charles abruptly shoved a hand down the front of his gym shorts. Now I’m not about to accuse Wheen of lying, or even exaggerating. After all, this latest version presumably corresponds to the contents of his official witness statement to the police, so it’s not just a dashed off bit of journalistic hype.

But dashed off articles often have one great merit: the words spill out in a relatively unguarded way. Whereas his recent, written-with-the court-in-mind, pieces emphasise the sexual total innocence of the boys, his earlier, more casual work tells a rather different story. In another Guardian article in 2005, for instance, he admitted that at his prep school “there was a fair bit of leaping in and out of beds in dormitories, comparing notes, and general exploration”. He also mentions a physics master at Harrow, his later public school, who caught a couple of boys in sexual action and warned them “I don’t mind mutual masturbation, but I draw the line at buggery.” And that, he said, became accepted as a sort of unofficial school rule. Note the admission, too, in the 1996 article, that at least one boy sneered at Wheen’s “squeamishness”. How innocent does all this sound?

As it happens, I wrote to Wheen back in the nineties, challenging what I thought was his overly harsh view of Charles. This was based on my reading of the situation, which now appears to have been incorrect, that Charles had his hands down other boys’ shorts, if they were willing, but not Wheen’s because unlike other boys Wheen “rejected his advances”. In other words, it seemed the boys would have been aware of what went on in Charles’s “den” and were free to join in or not, as they chose.

In my letter, I said:

I am completely in favour of resources such as Childline and other means through which children can challenge bullying and abusive behaviour by adults, including parents. Having said that, I cannot help feeling you have been unfair to Charles, not so much in what you say he did but in the opprobrium you pour on him regardless of the fact that he actually seems to have done very little.

Wheen could have put me right on that, but chose not to. He responded to my brief initial approach with at least one short letter of his own, but I do not recall any further communication.

So, all in all, I remain sceptical that the molestation of which Wheen complains so bitterly had much to do with the force of Charles’s authority and the boys’ inability to refuse his wishes. I think it was more positive: no one was forced to spend extra-curricular time with Charles. They were drawn by the exciting allure of being with a popular – let’s not forget that word popular – teacher and getting up to all sorts of outrageous illicit things, including the cigarettes and booze.

It seems to me Wheen has been in a massive sulk all these years because he couldn’t be in the gang on his own terms. He said Charles called him a baby for not joining in, which made him feel “inadequate”. Gosh, how awful! That bruise to the delicate young Wheen’s ego must be worth a 13-year stretch on its own! But isn’t it time this grand-daddy of all cry-babies finally grew up and moved on after nearly half a century of wailing? Maybe, indeed, he should remember his school motto:

Pervincet Vivida Virtus: Lively manliness conquers all. (Albeit diplomatically re-translated as “All can be achieved by hard work” after they started taking girls!)

Oh, and another thing. As he is so keen on giving “historic” offenders hell, I presume he won’t complain if he is now nicked for stealing Charles’s property and sentenced to the maximum penalty: seven years for theft!

As for a far more serious complaint that Charles, “forced” a boy to “perform a sex act on him” I again find myself sceptical. That would not be the Charles I knew. He had a conscience and could not have brought himself to do anything in the face of a child’s reluctance. He might have gone so far as to exhort and cajole (bad enough in itself, to be sure), but not to threaten or force. He did not pester Wheen, after all, once the embryonic journalist had made his displeasure clear.

Yes, Charles was grossly irresponsible in his use of cigs and beer to “groom” his young charges. Yes, he knew that children could not in law give sexual consent however willing they were. And, yes, among the complainants there are those who say they have suffered depression and even suicidal feelings as a consequence of what Charles did.

Had he been caught and punished with a prison sentence for his prep school offences back in the 1970s he could have no complaint.

Is it right, though, that he and others should be judged today, after decades have passed and in a much more harshly punitive atmosphere? These days, it is said, there is a better understanding of the long-term harm caused by adult-child sexual encounters. So, if this is recent knowledge (not that we need accept its accuracy), how was Charles supposed to be aware of it in the 1970s? Should he and others be punished now with far greater severity than they would have decades ago on the basis that they didn’t have a reliable crystal ball in those days? Is that fair?

Ought there to be a statute of limitations?

Barrister Barbara Hewson recently argued in favour of such a statute.* To me the case seems unanswerable. Mores have changed so enormously in less than half a century that bringing Charles to “justice” this year was hardly any different from posthumously putting Thomas Jefferson on trial for keeping slaves, including his own personal child sex slave (Sally Hemings, aged 14). Should the author of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and that country’s third president be dishonoured and have his grave desecrated, as happened recently in the case of Jimmy Savile? It would make just as much sense, or as little, as the hounding of poor Charles.

Also, the further removed a trial is from the alleged offences, the more ills can be dubiously attributed to the original acts. One of Charles’s victims is said to have been suicidal “later in life”. But over the course of decades many of us suffer all sorts of misfortunes that might make us suicidal. We might have lost money disastrously on a business venture, been through an acrimonious divorce, be depressed about getting fat and diabetic. In such circumstances it is all too easy to claim that you wouldn’t have made a foolish investment, or married the wrong woman or fallen prey to overeating but for this thing that happened at school. It’s possible, to be sure, but many other factors may have been more determinative. You don’t – or shouldn’t – condemn a man to a 13-year prison sentence on such a nebulous basis.

But the frenzied blood-lust that has seized the media, the masses and even the courts in the wake of the Savile debacle will not be sated or satisfied by rational proposals for a statute of limitations. Raising the idea is like having pointed out mildly, in the midst of the French Revolution, that not all the aristocrats being trundled to the guillotine were necessarily very bad. The present mood of deluded indignation demands a universal “Off with their heads!” response, be the transgression great or small.

Perhaps, in the circumstances, Charles Napier should reflect philosophically on the fate of another of his ancestors – not Charles II but that king’s father, Charles I, who lost his head in the English Revolution. At least the good people of England are not literally going in for decapitation these days – not yet, anyway!

*The link is to Part II of an article titled “The cult of victimhood and the limits of law” in The Barrister. Part I is also relevant to historic cases.

STOP PRESS: THE ESTABLISHMENT FIGHTS BACK

The Queen’s New Year honours have just been announced and I see I have been overlooked yet again. Unbelievable! 🙂

What makes it even worse is a damehood for that horrible bitch Esther Rantzen. Sorry for the sexist language, ladies, but had she been a bloke the word would have been bastard or shit, which is hardly an improvement. Not only did she refuse to shake hands with me in the BBC reception room as we waited to go on air for the TV discussion show After Dark about a decade ago, she also set her Rottweiler (bitch) friend “June” on me – a screaming “survivor” and ex-prostitute whom I found most discombobulating. She was so loud and in-yer-face aggressive it was hard to think or talk straight. It took all the diplomacy I could muster just to ward off the imminent threat of June giving me a Glasgow kiss. As that city happened to be her home town and she was built like a battle tank I fancy she’d have been good at it.

The Guardian today said this latest honours list was intended “to focus on those who help vulnerable children”. Hence the damehoods for ChildLine founder Rantzen and also for Joyce Plotnikoff, “who has revolutionised the way courts treat child witnesses”. And there was a CBE for Kate Lampard, “the independent overseer of the NHS investigation into Jimmy Savile”.

Much more interesting, though, was a damehood for Fiona Woolf, who was forced to resign from the government’s overarching child abuse inquiry recently. Victims’ groups had protested that she was an unsuitable chair because of her links with Tory peer Leon Brittan, a friend and neighbour, whose role as home secretary in dealing with allegations of child abuse in the 1980s “is likely to be scrutinised”, as the Guardian inscrutably put it.

It may be remembered that yet another dame, Lady Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, was the first person appointed to head the ill-fated abuse enquiry and, like Woolf afterwards, was shown the door by the victims’ lobby. Butler-Sloss was forced to stand down because her late brother Sir Michael Havers had been attorney general in the 1980s and his actions would have been subject to investigation by the inquiry.

Now, in a sign of an establishment fight-back matching the new honour for Woolf, and even topping it, Butler-Sloss has gone public with some very pointed remarks about the danger of handing over too much control to the victims.

She has said she fears the government will never be able to find an experienced figure to run the abuse investigation, but that victims should not think they can do it.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 today she said for victims to be deciding who should be the person chairing the inquiry “creates real problems”.

She said:

You are going to need someone who knows how to run things and if you get someone with an obscure background with no background of establishment, they will find it very difficult and may not be able to produce the goods.

She agreed that the normal processes of sifting of evidence, and neutrality between accuser and accused, might go by the board if the victims were allowed to dominate.

Quite so, your ladyship!

I was severely amused by paedo Chris Denning

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Well, that’s it, another Christmas Day is over. Mine was fine, I hope yours was, but it must have been pretty bleak for Charles Napier and Chris Denning.

Thirteen years for both of them! Charles Napier, sentenced the day before Christmas Eve, got exactly the same as was meted out to Chris Denning earlier in the month, as though these savage punishments were choreographed to send a seasonal message of goodwill to all mankind except paedophiles.

The message might almost, indeed, have been tailored specially for Heretic TOC, bearing in mind that I personally knew both of these guys and announced recently that I would be blogging about their sentences once both of them were known.

In the circumstances, it would be expedient for me to play down my friendship with the pair, as there is such a thing as guilt by association: a man is known by the company he keeps; birds of a feather stick together, and all that.

It would be cowardly and heartless to disown anyone purely to ensure one’s own survival, though, and I am not going to do that. Instead, I see several possibilities for responding in far more defensible ways. One is to celebrate the best aspects of the person you knew, and to express the hope that their best may be seen again and that their worst – if there has truly been a terrible worst – will not. The Christian message, after all, is that no one is beyond redemption.

Another response, wholly compatible, would be to face the facts of any misdeeds that have been disclosed and examine one’s feelings about them in a measured and sober fashion.

So, let’s see where that takes us.

I’ll start with Chris Denning , who was one of the first announcers heard on BBC Two when the channel began broadcasting in 1964, and was one of the original Radio 1 DJs when the station launched in 1967. Now 73 and in poor health – he has suffered a heart attack and has diabetes – he once worked as a music producer for the Beatles, and helped launch the careers of the Bay City Rollers and Gary Glitter. Older readers will remember that the manager of the Bay City Rollers was himself convicted of sex offences involving youngsters back in the 1980s and of course Gary Glitter’s fall from grace for similar reasons is even more well known. Chris, the Rollers’ manager Tam Paton, and pop impresario Jonathan King are now all notorious for having been regulars at a Walton-on-Thames teenager’s disco in the 1970s known as the Walton Hop, said to have been a happy hunting ground for “predatory” grooming.

I didn’t meet Chris until his years of fame, fortune and Walton Hopping were but a distant memory. My encounter with him was at a very different gig: Her Majesty’s Prison Wandsworth, London, in 2006-7. By this time both of us had a substantial criminal record, his starting way back in 1974 with a conviction at the Old Bailey for indecent assault. When we met, he was already doing time for historic offences involving boys under 16. Then he was hit with a European arrest warrant and extradited in 2008 from Britain to Slovakia, where he had been living. He was jailed there for producing child pornography.

The amazing thing to me about Chris was his indestructible cheerfulness, considering that even then he was locked, apparently permanently, into a nightmare of perpetual police action against him, even while he was safely incarcerated.

A successful radio DJ needs a lively personality, needless to say, with plenty of wit, gags and bounce. But one often hears of a sad dark side to comedians and clowns. Not Chris, though: what you heard on the radio was what you got on the prison wing – a laughing, joking character who brightened the whole place up. Being depressed was not an option with Chris around! Perpetual jokers can be annoying, to be sure, but I always found him interesting to chat to – usually as a guest in his cell during “unlock”, when I would stroll along the landing the deliver my copy of the Guardian to him when I’d finished with it.

I remember one time he said “Thanks, you’re the nicest paperboy I know!”

“No way!” I replied, “not with all the paperboys you must have known in the biblical sense!”

“I said nicest, not prettiest, you ugly old bugger!”

He was a great source of anecdotes, of course, and also of tea bags and dried milk sachets, which I always needed and he was generously pleased to let me scrounge.

As for the anecdotes, here’s a sample. Chris had to go for minor eye surgery, which entailed attending a nearby National Health Service hospital while under guard by two burly uniformed officers to whom he was handcuffed, one on either side. His visit entailed walking through a crowded ward where his handcuffed state was totally visible not just to the nurses and doctors but to all the other patients, who were members of the general public.

Many of us would have felt utterly humiliated by such a public display of our criminal status; but not a man of Chris’s confidence and style.

“Don’t worry,” he shouted out to the entire ward, “I’ve got these two guys under complete control!”

As for Chris’s past, a bit of it turned up right there in HMP Wandsworth in the shape of a middle-aged prisoner called Bob. I met him while he was chatting to Chris in the latter’s cell one day. He was a new guy on the wing, but he and Chris seemed remarkably relaxed in each other’s company, nattering away like old pals – which they were.

A day or two later, Chris told me all about it. He and Bob had met about forty years earlier when Chris had been presenting Top of the Pops on TV. At that time Bob had been a teenager in the studio audience, invited because his brother worked for the BBC. No doubt he had been a very attractive boy because he caught Chris’s attention and the two struck up a relationship.

I have no idea what sort of trouble got Bob into prison, but he clearly wasn’t blaming it on any “abuse” by Chris: the pair of them got on like a house on fire; I saw not the slightest hint of any lingering resentment, quite the opposite.

And despite many “boys” (albeit now quite ancient themselves) testifying against him, this lack of any convincing account of harm done by Chris’s “abusive” sexual encounters is striking. Instead, we are left to infer from the words of the judge in the case, plus reporters, “abuse experts”, etc, that his behaviour must have been devastating.

In the Daily Mail, for instance, reporter Richard Spillett refers to Denning as a boy’s “tormentor”. Judge Alistair McCreath, in the same report, is quoted as calling his behaviour “depraved”, saying “It is not to be forgotten that all of this suffering was inflicted by you without thought for anything other than your own selfish pleasure.”

But what “suffering” does he mean, exactly? What “torment” was there in reality? I saw all the main reports, in the Daily Mail, the BBC (website and TV coverage), the Guardian and the Independent. I saw absolutely nothing to support all this extravagant denunciation. It seems entirely based on dubious dogma and presumption.

Against this, on the other hand, some facts emerged in support of the view that the boys Chris went with were not forced into anything, were happy to be involved and suffered no harm other than hassles from the police.

The Independent, for instance, reproduced a remarkable Prague Post interview with Chris that first appeared in 2001. In that piece, reporter James Pitkin wrote that one boy was 14 when he first met Denning in a Prague club. He testified against Chris but then phoned him as soon as the former DJ was released from prison, and remained close to him during his last days in Prague. The boy was quoted as saying “Chris is my good friend. I had to testify against him. The pressure from the police was really heavy.”

As well as having lived further east, in Slovakia, Chris also dwelt for a while in the Czech capital, spending time in the gay clubs there. He says that in the Prague clubs boys always approached him first and he often formed lasting friendships with them. He would offer payment or gifts at first; once a relationship was established they often they liked to hang out at his apartment.

It is a mistake often made to suppose that so-called “rent boys” such as these were just vulnerable prey to abusive men. Yes, a club scene will expose youths to undesirables but a bigger part of the story is the exciting access they get to the exact opposite: desirables! These teenagers may be hunted by lustful men, but they are also deliberately on the hunt themselves, ostensibly for money but in reality they often crave the glamour and excitement of having their own big, properly grown-up, friend – and if they are gay, the desirability of the adult will focus on, well, desire – a hunky guy is precisely what they are after.

Chris knew this. He had been a rent boy himself from the age of 13. This had been entirely voluntary. Coming from a comfortable middle-class home, with non-abusive parents, he wasn’t desperate for the money nor is he a case of “the abused becoming the abuser”.

He does, however, remember being sexual from long before his teens. In boarding school, he says relationships with other young boys were commonplace. At eight, he was visiting an elderly museum curator for “favours”, and as a teenager he was hitting the streets and clubs of London on weekends, getting paid for sex but often giving it away free.

He insists that for men, prostitution is a choice. “The press always talks about being forced into it, as if they were reluctant,” he told the Prague Post. “They do it because they enjoy it.”

The teenagers at the Walton Hop were not on the gay scene like the Prague rent boys. But you don’t have to be gay to appreciate a glamorous adult in your life, as Chris was. To the straight youngster at that age the attraction is often a matter of overwhelming, hair-trigger, sexuality that will burst out at the slightest provocation, combined with the flattering attention of a hero-worshipped grownup and a positive need for affection.

Men like Chris are excoriated for “grooming” such youngsters. But what does this mean? It means being decent, nice and kind enough to make friends with a kid and spending time with him, rather than just having sex. It means being affectionate, taking an interest in the boy’s own life and preoccupations. It means earning a boy’s trust through being reliable and steadfast.

All these things are good and fine qualities. Simply to propagandise against them by insisting they are somehow evil is itself a monstrous distortion and perversion of the truth.

As for the middle-aged men who made the allegations in the UK case, it may be that some or all of them were approached by the police following leads in the aggressive pursuit of their Operation Yewtree, set up as one of many investigations aimed at leaving no stone unturned from the supposed misdeeds of decades ago, following the (still totally unproven) Jimmy Savile allegations. In other words, rather than having gone through decades of “torment” over what happened, they may instead merely have been badgered by the police into making statements. If any of them had made powerful and persuasive “victim impact statements” you may be sure the media would have made a meal of it.

I was going to write about Charles Napier as well in this piece. In order to justice to his case, though, I will have to return to it separately. More soon, then, inshallah.

 

THANK YOU, HERETICS

A huge thank you to all those heretics who have responded with encouraging words after hearing the audio recording of the interview I gave to Testimony Films, which was intended for Channel 4’s The Paedophile Next Door but never used. It is very gratifying to know that the consensus view is clearly much more positive than I had feared. Thanks to the sterling work of David Kennerly, it is now also possible to hear an amusing audio of less than 17 minutes in which interviewer Steve Humphries’ questions are stitched together in the absence of my answers, followed by some telling quotes from the programme as broadcast. Titled Stitching Up Steve Humphries, this compilation cleverly shows who was actually stitched up, and how. Excerpts from the show as broadcast come in at the 13-minute mark.

Paedophilia more popular than icecream in 2007

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Pedophilia has been more popular than icecream since about 1979. Paedophilia, however, has always been less popular than icecream except in just one year, 2007, when it enjoyed a brief moment of glory, pulling ahead of icecream only to fall back again the following year.

Heretic TOC was inspired to make these discoveries following comments on Boy Chat about Ice-Cream Hands, the short film introduced here in the previous blog, ‘Harmless’ paedos venture out of the shadows. In the BC thread, “cabinet maker” found the film “creepy as shit”, adding “the ice cream man is a pedophile? how much more stereotypical can we get?” On the other hand “Kit” said “Love the ice cream-man cliche.”

While opinions of the film itself ranged from rave to rubbish, nobody disputed that it was indeed a cliché to make the paedophilic Mr Sprinkles an ice-cream seller.

I wasn’t so sure. Yes, any ice-cream van is a kid magnet, so it would make sense for the connection to be a cliché, but I couldn’t immediately think of another film, TV programme, book, painting or any other medium in which this connection was expressed. Then I recalled Chester the Molester, the comic strip character from Hustler magazine. The strip ran for years, with Chester depicted comically (feminists of the po-faced variety will disagree) setting up all manner of ruses to get into kids’ pants, so surely he must have been depicted selling ice-cream? I was never a Hustler reader myself so I can only guess, but googling soon revealed that others have made their own connection, and in the following case linked it to evidence (albeit unsourced and with no details) from news stories involving errant ice-cream vendors:

Chester Molester The Ice Cream Truck Driver
Tuesday, October 11, 2005

It has been brought to my attention that this summer has been a time for creepy, mullet wearing, goatee sporting, shit eating grin men to come out of the woodwork and mess with our young ones.
On the news today I heard of three…Count em three cases where Ice cream truck drivers have bribed children into taking there clothes off for free icecream. Not only that These molesting mother fuckers are taking photos of it too!
Apparently the story goes as followed:
Chester the Molester finds unsuspecting children on the streets while riding around in the molester mobile…Otherwise known as the ice cream truck. Once the kids stop the man, if they’re right for the picking Chester offers them a ride in his pimp ass ice cream truck. Now, if I were a child and was offered a ride in an ice cream truck I probably would have gone too…So don’t blame the kids, they’re just kids.
Once inside the truck, Chester starts his molestation trap. Next thing you know the kids walk out of the truck slightly confused but with a bombsicle tightly gripped in there hands.
Chester gets off easy with his photographs with his naked children…And then he’s off to the next neighborhood.

It turns out that comedian Tim Minchin, has very effectively milked the ice-cream theme too. His Häagen-Dazs-level performance is probably the cream of the cream but, not to be licked (sorry!), the amateur jokesters are hanging in there.

Putting up some admirable resistance to this damning image is Lenore Skenazy at her admirable Free-Range Kids website (“How to raise safe, self-reliant children”). Skenazy, as some heretics here will surely know, hit the headlines a while back after allowing her nine-year-old son to ride home alone on the New York City Subway, and has written a book on less paranoid parenting. In an article titled “Does Ice Cream Man = Pervert?” she notes the fusion of the two in popular culture, “like the twin sticks of a Popsicle”. She objects vigorously in this piece to a proposal for state and federal fingerprint-based criminal history checks on people applying for ice cream van vending licences.

Some of her readers backed her up, pointing out that ice-cream vending is a very public business, and anyone selling from a van is firmly separated from his customers. The traditional department store Santa Claus has a much greater chance of a grope in his grotto. As for teachers, scout leaders and sports coaches, they all enjoy a long-term lust licence, while the opportunities for illicit intimacy open to close relatives, including siblings and parents, are absolutely endless and not infrequently taken.

I was an ice-cream man myself, as it happens, so I can speak from some experience! It was just a brief student job before I went into teaching. It was nice to make the kiddies happy (only with the ice-cream!) but also a much tougher job than might be thought: you have to work hard at building up a profitable round and it isn’t always easy: there are turf wars; a good pitch will be fiercely contested. Yes, you can bribe kids with free ice-cream and invite them into your vehicle, but only at tremendous risk to yourself. Not that bribery would be necessary. Kids ask if they can come aboard and plead to be taken for a ride.

You wouldn’t think that, though, from the supposed victims’ tales of woe in a tabloid yarn earlier this year headlined “Jimmy Savile’s mayor pal ‘preyed on young lads.’ ” This was a Daily Star story about an alleged “paedophile ice-cream tycoon known as the King of the Cornets” who was mayor of the English seaside town of Scarborough. He was said to have employed boys part-time and molested them going home in his van at night after work – while actually driving, it seems. Clearly, a very dangerous man! Nothing was ever proved against him and conveniently for the paper he died in 1999 so is in no position to sue for libel. In fact, it’s a great tab story for three reasons: there’s a villain who is a major local employer and politician, hence too big to prosecute; the guy is a pal of super villain Savile and appeared on his TV show; and last but not least, he panders to the ice-cream man stereotype. Tasty!

Whatever the realities, it seems the Boy Chat thread was quite accurate: people do think ice-cream guys are paedophiles, or might well be. So it is indeed a cliché. At least, it has become so in recent times, as expressed in jokes and comedy sketches if not necessarily in cinema (though I may be wrong, in which case please tell me). There was a 1995 horror film called Ice Cream Man which sounds great fun judging by the IMDB synopsis:

Poor Gregory. After being released from the Wishing Well Sanatorium, all he wants to do is make the children happy. So Gregory reopens the old ice cream factory, and all the unappreciative brats are reprocessed into the flavor of the day.

More Winy Wonka than paedophilia, methinks.

As for novels, there is the very recent The Ice Cream Man by Katri Lipson (the original Finnish title is a wonderfully exotic single word: Jäätelökauppias), which won the 2013 European Union Prize for Literature as a “playful and charming story”. I’m guessing there’s not much paedophilia then.

So what about my claim that paedophilia was more popular than icecream in 2007? What’s that all about?

Books, actually. For the first part of my cliché quest, I thought I’d try the quantification route via references to ice-cream in books. If I could search millions of volumes and see a tight correlation between increasing appearances of the word paedophilia (and pedophilia for American books) and increasing appearances of the word ice-cream, then Heretic TOC could reasonably hypothesise the rise of an ice-cream man cliché as the cause. OK, so a third variable could be the cause of both phenomena, which might require some investigation, but I thought I might be onto something all the same. I probably have junior genius James to thank for this thought. New readers: search recent comments for Bayes (of Bayes’ theorem fame) and consequentialism, which are just two of the knotty notions James is into.

It was a fun exercise, but in terms of useful information I think I came a bit unstuck. So here’s a warning: Never take ideas from a Strange Boy (or Girl or Non-Binary Person) unless you are prepared to be amused 🙂 by your own inadequacy :-(.

And also perhaps by the data. So let’s come to that (or those, for any pedantic grammarians here: Heretic TOC wants to keep everyone happy, even if they are virtuous). So, where was I? Ah, yes, the data.

Google n-grams, that’s the tool. The demonstration graph when you go to the link shows the percentage of books published from 1800-2000 in which particular words occurred, the demo ones being Frankenstein, Albert Einstein and Sherlock Holmes.

What I did was create my own n-gram for paedophilia, pedophilia and icecream. This was a bit limiting because the system does not accept ice-cream with a hyphen although it will take ice – cream when a hyphen or dash is separated from the words by spaces. Weird! But n-grams are also wonderful, as I hope will be agreed.

I have put one of my creations on the blog (see below).

Paedophilia and its American variant derive, as is well known, from Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s first use of the term “paedophilia erotica” in his book Psychopathia Sexualis. The book’s first edition appeared in 1886 but it was not until the 12th and final one in 1903 that his new term is to be found. Richard Fridolin Joseph Freiherr Krafft von Festenberg auf Frohnberg, genannt von Ebing, to give his glorious full appellation, included it in the “Psychopathological Cases” section of Chapter Five, on sexual crimes.

It will be seen that the n-gram dutifully records this first appearance of “paedophilia” in 1903, with the American variant hot on its heels. Both terms remained in medical obscurity, though, until the 1970s, since when the graph has shot upwards for both spellings. Unsurprisingly, pedophilia has raced ahead, reflecting the greater number of American publications in general and medical, legal and scientific ones in particular. Fiction probably lags well behind, thanks to imaginative alternatives such as “monster, “scumbag”, and “lowlife”, as deployed by the likes of popular novelist Andrew Vachss.

Pedophilia, but not paedophilia, leapt ahead of icecream just before 1980.

If you go to this n-gram for the period 2000-2008, the latter date being as recent as the tool goes at the moment, you will see my headline point about paedophilia just above a very steady-looking (with zero “smoothing”) icecream.

What, then, may we conclude about icecream as a literary cliché in connection with paedophilia? Bugger all, perhaps. But if the paedophilic ice-cream man ever became a cliché, wouldn’t we expect to see icecream rising in the graph along with the P words? There are similar n-gram results also for “molester” with “icecream”.

Perhaps this is what has happened: in popular culture the ice-cream man as paedophile is such a strongly entrenched figure that seriously creative people, such as film-script writers and novelists, try to avoid what they fear may be seen as a cliché. As a result, it never actually becomes one.

Anyway, I hope everyone is relaxing and enjoying this little ice-cream break after some rather intensive discussions here. 🙂

 

Icecream n-gram 1800-2000

Can you tell who he is yet?

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Rolf Harris you are 84 years old. You have no previous criminal convictions or cautions recorded against you. You are no longer in the best of health. For well over 50 years you have been a popular entertainer and television personality of international standing – with a speciality in children’s entertainment. You are also an artist of renown. You have been the recipient of a number of honours and awards over the years. You have done many good and charitable works and numerous people have attested to your positive good character.

So began the sentencing remarks by Mr Justice Sweeney at Southwark Crown Court, London, before handing down a prison term of five years and nine months on Harris last week. Unfortunately for the star, who was massive in Britain and his native Australia, the rest of the judge’s 3,000-word speech was to be no encomium. Instead, he rebuked the man in the dock as a serial sex attacker of girls and young women who had abused the trust placed in him as a famous children’s entertainer.

Those who remember the TV shows of his heyday, as I do, will recall a man who was brilliant at his job. A speciality was rapid painting, so his young viewers could see a picture emerging before their very eyes in a matter of moments. “Can you tell what it is yet?” he would ask. It became a catchphrase. In his later years he was taken seriously as an artist, with an exhibition of his work at the National Gallery. In 2006 he was even commissioned to paint a portrait of the Queen on her 80th birthday.

The question for us now is somewhat different. Unlike Jimmy Savile, who was never put on trial, Harris has been found guilty by a jury. But is he really the monster painted by the media in their own post-verdict instant artistry? Can we see who he is yet? There are plenty of reasons to suppose the genre of painting going on here is one of optical illusion, like the famously impossible Escher staircase.

We can look at the Rolph Harris case, just like the staircase, and be struck immediately by an impossible disparity: the offences, even if the jury made correct decisions on the facts, bear no relation to the spin being put upon them.

The main facts are that Harris was convicted of 12 counts of indecent assault committed decades ago, between 1969 and 1986, against four females. These ranged from one-off incidents of groping in public to a long involvement in the life of his daughter Bindi’s best friend (Victim C). The youngest was an eight-year-old girl (Victim A) who asked for his autograph at a public event. He twice put his hand up her skirt and felt her vagina over her underwear.

In a Victim Impact Statement, Victim A said this incident had caused her “physical and mental pain” and that “in the space of a few minutes my childhood innocence was gone”. She said, “I became an angry child unable to express myself and unable to trust men. I took this with me into my teens and did not like to be touched. It made having normal relationships difficult….I have carried what Rolf Harris did to me for most of my life. It took away most of my childhood.”

Victim C and her family were friends with Harris and his family in the mid 1960s. In 1978 when C was aged 13 and Harris was 48 he was allowed by C’s parents to take her on holiday abroad with his wife and Bindi. That is when he started touching her sexually. After the holiday, and while she was still under the age of consent (not that she ever did consent, by her own account) there were further incidents at C’s own home. While his wife and C’s parents were downstairs he went to C’s bedroom upstairs, where he inserted his finger into her vagina, in the words of the judge, “for about a minute until she managed to get away”. Several further such incidents, the last when she was 19, were specified in the indictment, including ones in which he licked her vagina. The judge said to Harris “Whilst I do not sentence you in relation to what you did to C in the decade that followed that offence, I am sure that offences against her continued until 1994.”

Harris also faced four charges of possessing indecent images of children on his computer following a police raid on his home in 2012. This case was dropped following his conviction on the other charges.

So, in summary, we have groping incidents including one against an eight-year-old over her clothing which robbed her of her childhood and has been a cross she has had to bear for the rest of her life. And we have a series of assaults over a period of 16 years against one victim, several of them while her parents were in another room of the same house at the time, until she was 29 years old. And a porn case that was dropped.

Does anything begin to seem a bit unlikely, or even impossible about this, like the Escher staircase? Can you tell what it is yet? I’m guessing you can. But let’s go on. Let’s paint the final brush strokes of the picture.

In her Victim Impact Statement, Bindi’s friend Victim C said, “The attacks…made me feel dirty, grubby and disgusting. The whole sordid saga has traumatised me. I have panic attacks and suffer from anxiety. The effects of the abuse have been with me for many years. I started drinking at the age of 14 to 15 years old. This was to block out the effects of what he was doing to me. This had an effect on my relationship with my parents and people close to me. The slightest thing would upset me, I would get so angry, my reaction would be so disproportionate and over the top. As a young girl I had aspirations to have a career, settle down and have a family. However, as a direct result of his actions, this has never materialised. I have never had a meaningful relationship whilst sober. I have also never been able to hold down a job. This was down to the need to block out what he had done to me through drink. Rolf Harris had a hold over me that made me a quivering wreck….He made me feel like a sexual object. He used and abused me to such an extent that it made me feel worthless…”

So there we have it. Can you see the full pattern and paradox now? The pattern is one of relatively mild sexual impropriety, or even consensual sex with a mature adult: what else can we seriously suppose it to have been when the “assaults” on C continued until she was 29? The paradox is the huge, life-wrecking consequences that are said to have resulted from these acts.

Don’t get me wrong. Sexual harassment should not be tolerated. Heretic TOC is not calling for a groper’s charter. As we have discussed extensively here recently, mutual consent is a basic requirement of legitimate sex at any age. Where the courts and the abuse lobbyists, the politicians and the media are going wrong, however, is in giving too much credence to those who seek to put everything that has gone wrong in their lives down to child sexual abuse (CSA). It is an easy cop out from personal responsibility. One thing often overlooked by those who assume a direct CSA = Lifelong Trauma equation is that lurking in the background of these damaged people’s lives there is often a history of significant trauma and mental instability arising even before the CSA took place. Rind et al., in their famous 1998 meta-analysis showed that chaotic and dysfunctional family background was nine times more predictive of psychological damage in later life than CSA, to which such damage is usually attributed.

The public are also deceived by the utterly false dogma that victims always “courageously” come forward to tell the unvarnished truth, without exaggeration. It is hard to be sure from a short public description, but Victim A in this case said she suffered physical as well as mental pain. Really? From being touched over her underwear in a crowded public place where any cry of pain would surely have attracted attention? One has to wonder. Those who think victims are always honest should catch up on the Somaly Mam scandal, as reported last month in “Victims Can Lie as Much as Other People”.

Back to Rolph. Like Jimmy Savile, he was clearly no saint. A particular grouse of mine would be his hypocrisy. Whereas Savile was astonishingly open about his attraction to young girls, Harris shored up his respectability by presenting a 1985 anti-CSA video for the NSPCC, called Kids Can Say No!

Nor was he great at loyalty: apparently unbeknown to his wife, for several years in the 1990s he kept a mistress at the bottom of his garden!

That wasn’t as uncomfortable for her as it might sound: the lady was installed in a converted boathouse in the grounds of his mansion by the River Thames, and was supposed to be his housekeeper and chauffeur.

So, can we tell who he was yet? Was he the monster the media have painted?

What he was not is a paedophile if we use that term to mean someone preferentially attracted to prepubescent children. His offences point to a degree of hebephilic interest in teenage girls; but with a wife and a long-term adult mistress, his sexuality appears actually to have been rather normal in its direction. It’s just that its expression was a little over-exuberant. Not that this is any excuse: arguably his lapses were worse than those of someone, attracted exclusively to kids, who has no viable alternative outlet for his feelings.

What concerns us more urgently, though, is not whether one particular man meets with our moral approval here at Heretic TOC. It’s the societal response to these big, high-profile cases that counts. For the most part, that response has been really bad news, and we must brace ourselves for much more of the same in the coming weeks and months as the post-Savile cultural revolution cranks itself up to some sort of crescendo.

So much for the big picture. I’ll conclude with a few brief sketches:

 

‘LOVELY TOUCHY-FEELY ROLF’

Amanda Platell, a high-profile journalist, who used to be press secretary to William Hague when he was leader of the Conservative Party, said she had been among Harris’s fans and had invited him to her fortieth birthday party many years ago. Cheekily, she said she was so thrilled to see her childhood hero in the flesh that “I took him upstairs away from my other guests to keep him to myself for a while.” We are left to guess was happened, but she wasn’t complaining! On the other hand, that’s before she knew what a bad boy he could be. But now, she says, “I can deny it no longer: the man I adored betrayed me. More than that, I’ve had to accept that Rolf Harris groomed me, just as meticulously as he did his victims.” How did he do it? By being nice. “Lovely touchy-feely Rolf had this ability to make you feel as though you were the most important person in the world.” The swine!

 

A GRIM LONDON PRISON

Eric Allison, the excellent prisons correspondent of the Guardian and an ex-convict himself, reported that in the big van that would take Harris and other prisoners from the court to prison (HMP Wandsworth), Harris would be “insulted mercilessly by the other occupants of the sweatbox. At the grim south London jail, he will be segregated during the reception process although he will still hear torrents of abuse for his indecent assault of young girls.” As an old man, he would be put in the hospital wing, where patients “tend to be medicated during the day when they can present control problems, but left drug-free to scream and shout throughout the long nights.” This sounds bleak, and the scenario may have unfolded just as Allison says. But Harris should be OK if he can get out of healthcare and into the Vulnerable Prisoners Unit (VPU) which is the usual destination for anyone in need of protection from the hostility of other inmates – which these days means mainly sex offenders, quite a lot of them almost as old as Harris. I know, because I was there myself. In fact I was tried at Southwark Crown Court like Harris too. Ah, happy memories – not!

 

NEXT SCANDAL: THE PAEDO POLITICIANS

News of fresh craziness in the cultural revolution keeps coming in so thick and fast that my last item here would be my lead story if this were a daily newspaper: a big scandal broke in the Sunday papers yesterday, when they reported that the British Home Office has confessed to losing or destroying 114 “potentially relevant” files relating to “the paedophile scandal engulfing Westminster” i.e. allegations that “paedophilia on an industrial scale” was rife among top politicians in the 1970s and 80s. This story is certain to get even bigger in the coming week and beyond. I got wind of it last week when the main broadcasting outfits (BBC’s Today programme and ITN) plus the Daily Mail contacted me to ask if I could tell them anything about naughty deeds in high places back in the day. Sadly, being more familiar with low places I had to disappoint them!

 

STOP PRESS

The very latest, Daily Telegraph this morning:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/10948796/Paedophilia-is-natural-and-normal-for-males.html

Heretic TOC is quoted. Looks like I’m adding to the problem, rather than solving it. Should I stop writing this blog?

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