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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Allegations of child sexual abuse linked to Westminster Investigation Report

Contents

G.2: PIE’s links with other organisations

The Albany Trust

17. The Albany Trust was set up in 1958 as the sister charity to the Homosexual Law Reform Society (HLRS). While the HLRS campaigned and lobbied to persuade the government to implement the recommendations of the Wolfenden Report and decriminalise same-sex sexual activity, the focus of the Albany Trust was to provide support for gay, lesbian and bisexual people (as well as other sexual minorities) who needed counselling or advice.[1] After homosexual acts between adults over 21 years of age were decriminalised in 1967, the Albany Trust worked to build a network of expertise within London and then the rest of the UK with two main aims. First, to tackle the stigma surrounding homosexuality and educate mainstream counselling and healthcare services about the needs of sexual minorities. Second, to provide specialist expertise, train counsellors and meet the counselling needs of individuals.[2]

18. The Albany Trust still exists today. It does not engage in campaigning, but primarily provides counselling to those seeking help with relationships, sexuality or gender identity issues, with a continued focus on the LGBT community given its history.[3]

Meetings with PIE and joint production of a pamphlet

19. The first contact between the Albany Trust and PIE took place in around September 1975, when Antony Grey, then secretary of the Albany Trust and a key figure in the early years of its work and the gay rights movement more broadly, wrote to Mr Hose. The Albany Trust was already involved in providing counselling to people who experience sexual attraction towards children with the aim of reducing such feelings. Mr Grey had seen Mr Hose speak at the Mind conference on the needs of sexual minorities and suggested, having “greatly admired” Mr Hose’s courage, that they organise a meeting to discuss what could be done to meet the needs of ‘paedophiles’.[4]

20. A series of meetings did then take place between January and November 1976, convened by the Albany Trust and involving representatives from PIE, psychiatrists and other professionals known to the Albany Trust who had an interest in the subject of ‘paedophilia’. These meetings led to two projects. The first was to explore setting up some kind of support group or counselling for people who experienced sexual attraction towards children. The second was to produce a pamphlet which would try to educate the public about paedophilia, dispel some myths about it, describe the social pressures and difficulties that paedophiles experienced, and improve the general public’s attitude towards paedophiles.[5] Neither of the two projects was ever fully developed.[6]

21. The pamphlet project did progress quite far before it was stopped. Some of the language used in the minutes of the meetings was unattractive:

  • The legal position relating to consent, while ostensibly protective, was felt to make potential victims not only of adult paedophiles, but also of nearly all children when they engaged in sexual experimentation and were found out in doing so … It needed to be emphasised that there were more positive ways of protecting children in their period of sexual development than through the criminal law.[7]
  • The pamphlet “should be framed so that the public could identify with it in terms of their own growth experience. Case histories of positive relations and also of those which had been destroyed by legal and social interference should be included”.[8]
  • In a suggested list of topics to be covered: “some interviews with older and younger partners in paedophile relationships, confusion of paedophilia with child molesting, primitive attitudes to sex offenders”.[9]

22. This language strongly suggests that at least some of the other participants in the meetings (not only the PIE representatives) had sympathy for the position that adults engaging in sexual activity with children could be valid or positive. One aim of the pamphlet was to excuse or justify such sexual activity. Jeremy Clarke, a current trustee from whom we heard evidence, tried diligently to explain or downplay this feature of the documents,[10] no doubt out of an understandable concern for the reputation of the Albany Trust. However, he had to admit that at times the aims of the pamphlet were “something that starts to sound like propaganda for the campaign of the Paedophile Information Exchange”.[11] It is clear that the Albany Trust did a considerable amount of work with PIE on a pamphlet which would have gone some way towards promoting PIE’s views about sex with children, and which if jointly published as initially discussed would have had a respectability and gravitas because of the Albany Trust’s name being attached to it.

23. Mr Clarke thought that the pamphlet project was stopped because the PIE representatives were starting to make its contents sound like propaganda or advocacy for PIE’s views, and the Albany Trust trustees were “simply not willing to go along” with that.[12] That may have been part of the reason, but the archive documents tell a more complicated story. It seems that the initial concern from the Albany Trust employees and volunteers who were involved in the meetings with PIE was that “it was not felt that the document would advance the understanding and acceptance of paedophiles, and it might adversely affect the Albany Trust”.[13] It appears the primary objection was not that the views expressed by PIE and included in the draft pamphlet were likely to harm children or were morally wrong, rather that it would not further the acceptance of paedophiles and may harm the reputation of the Albany Trust.

24. When the Albany Trust trustees discussed the pamphlet project in November 1976 and January 1977,[14] its connection with PIE had been in the newspapers because Mary Whitehouse, the General Secretary of the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association, had made an allegation that PIE was receiving support via the Albany Trust. The trustees came to the view the project was simply too controversial, and so it was put on hold in November 1976 and then stopped completely at the start of the following year. By October and November 1977, the Albany Trust was concerned about being connected to PIE in any way and decided no longer to work with them, although “help, advice and information” would still be provided.[15] The VSU also expressed disquiet about the way the Albany Trust had been linked to PIE.[16]

Referral of inquiries to PIE

25. Despite the difficult experience with the pamphlet project, the Albany Trust continued to refer people to PIE. In February 1977, the Albany Trust’s standard information sheet of suggested organisations to contact for help included details for PIE.[17] We saw from the archives further evidence of an individual being assisted in corresponding with PIE in late 1978 and early 1979 after he wrote to the Albany Trust from prison, having been convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy.[18]

26. Finally, there is warm correspondence between Antony Grey and Tom O’Carroll dated 17 April 1978, which refers to support being given by Mr Grey to PIE at the NCCL annual general meeting and in relation to NUPE, a trade union.[19] Mr Grey had formally left the Albany Trust by that time due to concerns expressed by some about the project with PIE.[20] However, he was seen by others as having ongoing ties to the Albany Trust; for example he publicly defended it from criticism by Sir Bernard Braine in late 1977. It is of concern that such links were continuing in any way so long after the termination of the pamphlet project. This project should have alerted the Albany Trust, and Mr Grey, to how dangerous an organisation PIE really was.

Mary Whitehouse and questions about funding PIE

27. The Home Office VSU provided £10,000 of funding each year to the Albany Trust between 1974 and 1977, and then increased its grant to £15,000 between 1978 and 1979. The VSU was aware throughout this period that the Albany Trust’s work included work with and about paedophiles; it is referred to openly in the Albany Trust’s reports to the VSU at the time. This stream of funding constituted a significant proportion of its income at that time.[21]

28. As noted above, on 24 November 1976 Mary Whitehouse made a speech in which she alleged that:

“the support given by [the Albany Trust] to paedophile groups means that we are all subsidising and supporting, at least indirectly, a cause which seeks to normalise sexual attraction and activity between adult males and little girls”.[22]

29. This caused a media furore, and elicited a strong denial from Antony Grey that “the Albany Trust does not give support (financial or otherwise) to paedophile groups”.[23] It is not clear whether this was an entirely accurate response, despite Mr Clarke’s attempts to persuade us of its validity.[24] While it may have been correct that the Trust had never endorsed PIE’s aims or publicly supported them, and it was certainly true that the Trust never made any direct financial contribution to PIE, it was misleading to deny there had been any form of support. The meetings to discuss both a counselling service and the pamphlet, and the work on the pamphlet itself, both constituted a type of support on any view.

30. The controversy reignited on 15 December 1977, when Sir Bernard Braine asked a Parliamentary question to the Home Office:

“Is the Minister aware that there is evidence … that both these trusts [the Princedale Trust and the Albany Trust] have given encouragement and publicity to the Paedophile Information Exchange, an organisation which exists as openly dedicated to the sexual corruption of children? Before paying any balance of grants, or before renewing any such grants, will the minister obtain assurances that public money is not being used to help a disgusting organisation which most people would regard as having criminal objectives?”[25]

31. A careful answer was given that did not quite answer the question asked, stating “no public money is being used for any propaganda purposes on behalf of such an organisation”.[26] The Inquiry considers this was reflective of the reality that there were some fairly extensive links between the Trust and PIE which the Home Office was aware of, but not links actually furthering the objectives or aims of PIE.[27] Despite a further full explanation of the links in a letter from Antony Grey to Sir Bernard Braine, Clifford Hindley (the head of the VSU) contacted the chair of the Albany Trust at that time, Rodney Bennett-England, to ask further clarificatory questions.[28]

Effects on the Albany Trust of associating with PIE

32. There was an immediate impact on the Albany Trust as a result of all these events. Mr Clarke said he believed all the trustees of the Albany Trust resigned at the end of 1977 as a result of the PIE controversy and the resulting damage to the Trust’s reputation. Antony Grey, the secretary, also resigned.[29]

33. There was also longer-lasting damage. Mr Clarke told us that he started volunteering with the Albany Trust in 1987, and so knew many of the individuals who were around at the time of the links with PIE.[30] When he first started volunteering he described how the PIE scandal still affected the organisation:

I arrived as a volunteer with this kind of shadow, even ten years later, that was hanging over the counselling team. They were quite traumatised, I think, by the events of the late 1970s and felt very bruised, I think, by what had happened. So there wasn’t much communication between the counselling team … and Antony Grey, who it was felt had sort of got the trust into all this trouble … [31]

34. Mr Clarke and his fellow trustee, Keith Mitchell, expressed their regret that the Albany Trust had not been more careful in how it responded to PIE, and acknowledged the involvement with PIE was a mistake.[32]

The National Council for Civil Liberties

35. PIE was an affiliate organisation to the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL, now known as Liberty) from the late 1970s until the early 1980s.[33] Patricia Hewitt held the most senior staff position in the NCCL, General Secretary, between 1974 and 1983. She has more recently held senior positions in the Labour Party. She has expressed regret for PIE’s affiliation with the NCCL and has said she personally never supported PIE’s aims or its members.[34] Leaders and office-bearers of the NCCL at the time must accept responsibility for PIE’s affiliation with the NCCL. The fact that PIE was allowed to remain connected to the NCCL for several years had the effect of giving spurious legitimacy to an organisation that promoted sex with children.

36. We received a comprehensive and candid witness statement from the Acting Director of Liberty, Ms Corey Stoughton, which set out carefully all of the available information from the Liberty archives about PIE. It appears that there was a substantive relationship between the NCCL and PIE. For instance, the NCCL advertised in PIE’s publication Understanding Paedophilia in 1977 and in PIE’s magazine Magpie in April 1979, and in 1979 PIE asked to advertise in the NCCL’s magazine Rights!, although after some internal debate within the NCCL the advertisement was not placed.[35]

37. The main link between PIE and the NCCL seems to have been the Gay Rights Committee (GRC), which was operated by the NCCL from the mid-1970s until some time in the 1980s.[36] It was primarily made up of volunteers rather than NCCL staff, and had around 25 members, who did not necessarily have to be members of the NCCL and who could not speak for the NCCL without prior permission.[37]

37.1. Nettie Pollard was a key figure on the GRC and a member of NCCL staff. She was the NCCL’s receptionist from at least 1977, and described herself in correspondence as Gay Rights Organiser.[38] Numerous documents from the time suggest that Ms Pollard was sympathetic to PIE’s aims and objectives.[39]

37.2. Keith Hose, PIE’s one-time Chair, was a member of the GRC. Significantly, Mr Hose successfully pushed for the NCCL evidence to the Home Office in 1976 to incorporate some of PIE’s ideas.[40] In March 1976, the NCCL proposed a reduction of the age of consent to 14, and in some cases 10.

NCCL proposes that the age of consent should be lowered to 14, with special provision for situations where the partners are close in age, or where consent of a child over ten can be proved.[41]

A version of this policy was then adopted as a recommendation by Home Office advisers in a later 1979 paper.

37.3. In May 1977 the NCCL held a conference on gay rights, which included presentations from PIE members such as Tom O’Carroll that were apparently “well-received”.[42] O’Carroll was a member of the GRC for a period in 1977–1978 (at the same time, notably, as Antony Grey), and the GRC minutes from March to November 1978 show that support was expressed for O’Carroll when he lost his job as Open University press officer because of his association with PIE.[43]

It is fair to say that the relationship between the GRC and the NCCL’s core executive and leadership was not particularly close and at times somewhat strained.[44] However, Ms Pollard in particular was a significant link between the NCCL and PIE for a number of years, and it is clear that key PIE members such as Hose and O’Carroll had an active presence on the GRC.

38. In 1981, when O’Carroll was convicted, the NCCL was asked to intervene in his favour. Ms Hewitt refused the request. Although the NCCL did generally oppose the law on conspiracy as it then stood, and in particular the offence of conspiracy to corrupt public morals, of which O’Carroll was convicted, there does not appear to have been an appetite to campaign on his particular case.[45]

39. Following the 1981 prosecution, the relationship between the NCCL and PIE appears to have become more tense, and by 1984 steps were underway to remove PIE’s affiliation. PIE was disbanded before this happened.[46]

40. As with the Albany Trust, links with PIE have had a negative effect on the NCCL’s reputation. In 2014, the then-director Shami Chakrabarti made a statement expressing “disgust and horror” that PIE had managed to infiltrate the NCCL so successfully. Liberty repeated this in its evidence to us, and also set out a clear explanation of how the institutional failures and blindspots which led to the relationship with PIE in the 1970s and 1980s could not and would not be repeated today.[47]

References

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