Skip to main content

0800 917 1000   Open weekdays 9am-5pm

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Allegations of child sexual abuse linked to Westminster Investigation Report

Contents

G.3: Allegation that the Home Office funded PIE

41. Tim Hulbert, a retired public servant and former consultant to the Home Office VSU who is a core participant in this investigation, alleges that PIE was funded by the Home Office. Mr Hulbert was a consultant at the VSU from 1977 until 1981, when he became the Deputy Director of Social Services for Hereford and Worcester County Council.[1]

42. The VSU was an inter-departmental unit attached to the Home Office which was responsible for coordinating government policy in relation to the voluntary sector, providing grants to organisations which fell between or crossed over the responsibilities of other departments, and contributing to the development of the relationship between statutory and voluntary organisations.[2] A consultant was equivalent to the civil service grade of ‘principal’. Mr Hulbert explained that his duties included providing expert advice at all levels, both administratively and politically, to ministers, other advisers and the unit itself on matters that related to the voluntary sector and to local government.[3] Mr Hulbert assessed organisations that had made applications for grants and reviewed grants that had been made.[4] He told us that he had free rein to speak to numerous people across all the hierarchies of the Home Office.[5]

43. Key personnel in the VSU in the late 1970s to early 1980s included Dennis Peach (the deputy secretary or undersecretary), Geoffrey de Deney (the undersecretary), Clifford Hindley (now deceased, the head of the unit and Mr Hulbert’s line manager)[6] and Alan Davies (later Reverend Davies, also deceased, a principal with responsibility for some grants).[7]

44. Mr Hulbert recalls that he saw a spreadsheet listing grants for renewal, of the type that was circulated around the VSU on a quarterly basis,[8] which included an entry which stated ‘WRVS (P.I.E.)’.[9] He has given various accounts of that allegation in 2013 and 2014, and to this Inquiry in 2016 and 2019.[10]

45. In his evidence, Mr Hulbert said that the entry was pointed out to him by Reverend Davies. Mr Hulbert thought that the amount of the grant renewal might have been about £30,000, but he could not be sure.[11] He recalled that when his statement was taken in 2013, the police asked how much the figure was, and he said that he thought it was a five-figure sum. The police asked whether it was “about £30,000”. Mr Hulbert said that he thought at the time, and still thinks, that it “may well have been” that amount, “because, if it was a repeat grant for three years over a three-year period, then most of the VSU grants were not below £10,000 a year”. He said that £30,000 was therefore “not an unreasonable figure to estimate”.[12]

46. The letters ‘WRVS’ stood for Women’s Royal Voluntary Service (now Royal Voluntary Service or RVS). The WRVS received three substantial grants-in-aid from the VSU, the sum of which in 1978/79 was £2,650,000.[13] Mr Hulbert told us he and Reverend Davies both knew a lot about the WRVS.[14] Reverend Davies was responsible for reviewing the WRVS grant application and preparing the draft submission for approval.[15] Mr Hulbert said that it was clear to him and to Reverend Davies that the letters ‘P.I.E.’ referred to the Paedophile Information Exchange.[16] Mr Hulbert said that this was because there was no other organisation which received grants and had the acronym PIE,[17] and both he and Reverend Davies knew about PIE from commentary in the press.[18] He said that both he and Reverend Davies were horrified upon seeing the reference to PIE,[19] and that both were puzzled by the juxtaposition of the WRVS and PIE, because they were very different organisations.[20]

47. It makes little sense for the letters ‘WRVS (PIE)’ to have been openly referred to on a spreadsheet which was circulated around the VSU if the channelling of money from the Home Office to PIE through the WRVS was being done covertly. If funding to PIE was being openly referred to, it also seems curious that there was any need to channel it through, or label it as pertaining to, an unrelated organisation. Mr Hulbert speculated that the reference to ‘WRVS (PIE)’ was included on the spreadsheet by mistake.[21]

48. We considered whether there could be another explanation for an entry on a grant renewal spreadsheet marked ‘WRVS (P.I.E.)’ or ‘WRVS (PIE)’. We saw evidence that during the Second World War, the WRVS administered a national ‘Pie Scheme’ (a scheme for the manufacture and distribution of pies and snacks to agricultural workers in rural areas), which had a Pie Fund or Funds maintained after the Second World War. We saw at least one example from the 1940s–1950s of a WRVS Pie Fund that was administered by a Pie Committee, which managed investments and expenditure and had a constitution.[22] In his 2019 statement, Mr Hulbert said that he and Reverend Davies had joked about whether the WRVS was having a “national bake-up” because of the reference to PIE.[23] Mr Hulbert denied that this could have explained what he saw, both because RVS records suggest that the Pie Scheme had concluded by the early 1950s[24] and because he was not aware of the Pie Scheme when he saw the entry on the spreadsheet.[25] Whether Mr Hulbert was aware of the WRVS Pie Scheme is not relevant to the question of whether it could have provided an alternative explanation for the entry. However, there is insufficient evidence to conclude whether there was any alternative explanation for what Mr Hulbert saw, although we are not able to rule out the possibility that there may have been one. Also, we are not able to rule out that the word or acronym ‘PIE’ or ‘P.I.E.’ may have signified something other than the Paedophile Information Exchange.

49. Having seen the entry, Mr Hulbert says he told Reverend Davies that he would take the matter up with Mr Hindley.[26] Although Reverend Davies was responsible for reviewing the WRVS grant, Mr Hulbert recalls that Reverend Davies was content for him to take up the matter with Mr Hindley.[27] Mr Hulbert later went to Mr Hindley’s office and asked him why the VSU was funding PIE. Mr Hulbert recalls that Mr Hindley stated that PIE was a bona fide campaigning organisation even if its objectives appeared objectionable; that it was funded at the request of either the Security Services or Special Branch, who found it useful to identify people with paedophile inclinations; and that it was a grant being extended for a further period and therefore did not require a consultant’s input.[28] Mr Hulbert did not take the matter further.

50. Mr Hulbert says that some time later he was in the general office of the VSU when Brian Chaplin, another principal, was present. Also present was David Scagell, senior principal, and the registry clerk, Irene Cole.[29] Mr Hulbert asked to see the WRVS file, which Mr Chaplin had in his hand. Mr Scagell said he could not have it as it was nothing to do with a consultant. That was the only time Mr Hulbert was ever refused access to any file while he worked at the VSU.[30] Mr Hulbert also said that he saw a copy of Magpie, the PIE magazine, at the VSU after he saw the entry ‘WRVS (PIE)’ and that it may have been in Mr Hindley’s office.[31]

51. There were some inconsistencies in the detail of Mr Hulbert’s accounts. He gave much more detail in his later accounts than in his 2013 account to police. He gave different descriptions of what he saw. In 2013, he said “at the tip of the spreadsheet near to a line referring to the WRVS was a column or line that had PIE on it”.[32] He believed this was some time in 1980. In 2014, he described “a hazy recollection of seeing a spreadsheet listing grants for renewal which included PIE and which I think may have shown an entry as ‘WRVS (PIE)’”.[33] He dated this “around 1978”. In 2019, he provided a detailed description of a spreadsheet containing “an entry which read ‘WRVS (P.I.E.)’ which was shown as a grant for renewal and the amount was at least a five figure sum”.[34] He estimated the date as being “in the early summer of approximately 1979 ”.

52. In relation to Mr Hindley’s response, in his 2013 statement Mr Hulbert said:

Clifford responded by saying that it was nothing to do with me, and I was to have nothing to do with it. The impression Clifford gave was that the funding was in fact at the request of Security Services in order to give them some sort of access to PIE.[35]

In 2019, he described a three-part response, but by reference to Special Branch rather than to the Security Services:

My recollection is that Clifford Hindley’s response was, firstly, that PIE was a bona fide campaigning organisation even if its objectives appeared objectionable; secondly, that it was funded at the request of Special Branch who he said found it useful to identify people with paedophile inclinations; and thirdly, that it was a grant being extended for a further period and therefore did not require a consultant’s input … I left the meeting with Clifford Hindley with a clear understanding that he wished me to ‘back off’. I believe Clifford Hindley’s reference to Special Branch interest was sufficient for me to accept this without further challenge.[36]

53. In oral evidence, Mr Hulbert strongly rejected any suggestion that these inconsistencies might undermine his core allegation. He explained this by saying that his 2013 police statement was not satisfactory, the police did not ask the “right questions”, it was the first time he had given a police statement, he had read over it quickly, and he may not have realised the significance of signing that statement at the time.[37] On the question of the increasing level of detail in his accounts from 2013 to 2019, Mr Hulbert said that he has tried to avoid speculating, but that as he has examined this matter over time, there are things that he remembers now that he did not remember at the time.[38] He said that every time he has looked at the matter, his recollection has become clearer because his memory is stirred.[39] Mr Hulbert also said that because the allegations are now 40 years old, it is natural that there are some changes and discrepancies in his statements.[40]

54. Mr Hulbert made the allegation that PIE had been funded by the Home Office in a telephone call to the BBC in 1994 after he had watched the television documentary ‘The Secret Life of a Paedophile’.[41] In 2013, a note of the call was discovered by Peter McKelvie, who put Mr Hulbert in touch with Tom Watson MP and the police.[42] The note reads:

PIE was funded by Home Office, says Tim Hulbert, now Bed CC director  Clifford Hindley  head of Vol. Service Unit + Home Office, was involved”.[43]

Mr Hulbert had worked with Mr McKelvie at Hereford and Worcester Social Services Department.[44]

55. We saw evidence that, in 1980, Mr Hulbert was asked by Clifford Hindley[45] to prepare a report putting forward grounds on which the VSU might consider a “Review of WRVS” in order to satisfy itself that the high level of the WRVS grant was justified, to address accountability expectations and to assist WRVS in its own assessment of its role in a developing voluntary sector.[46] While Mr Peach and other senior VSU staff were against the idea,[47] Clifford Hindley wrote a note to Mr Peach dated 15 January 1981 arguing in favour of a “large-scale review” because of the VSU’s “ignorance of how WRVS operates”. He continued:

None of this makes a review imperative. Still less is there any suggestion of impropriety or wastefulness. There is however a great ignorance of how the money is spent.[48]

The proposed review did not appear to take place.

56. Mr Hulbert said that he was not surprised that Mr Hindley was agitating for a large-scale review of the WRVS account and grant level in 1980 and 1981.[49] Mr Hulbert said that the issue of PIE funding and the proposed WRVS review were separate,[50] that the three-year grant renewal he saw some time between 1978 and 1980 would have been “almost extinct” by the time of a review,[51] and that Mr Hindley would have been under “extreme pressure from the Treasury to have some accountability” given the size of the WRVS grant.[52] Alternatively, he contemplated that Mr Hindley’s agitation in favour of a large-scale review could have been a double-bluff on Mr Hindley’s part.[53]

57. The final written submissions made to the Inquiry on Mr Hulbert’s behalf stated:

It is crucial to the understanding of this evidence that this review was of the accounting practices of the WRVS and not the internal accounting with the Home Office VSU. This misunderstanding reveals the conflation of two separate issues: the accounts kept by the WRVS and the accounts of funding records kept by the Home Office/VSU. Mr Hulbert saw the reference to the funding of PIE on the internal records within the Home Office/VSU of accounting for various grants to various organisations. This would never have been a record available to the WRVS as it was an internal Home Office document.[54]

58. From the documents we have seen, it is not entirely clear that a “Review of WRVS” would refer only to records held and activities conducted by the WRVS externally to the VSU. The terms of the proposed review were not precisely defined; Mr Peach referred to “some kind of review of WRVS activities and funding”.[55] It is not inconceivable that VSU records of the level of grants allocated to the WRVS may have been provided to a reviewer as part of such a review. This may have included a ‘WRVS (PIE)’ spreadsheet entry.

59. Mr Hulbert’s explanations of Mr Hindley’s position are necessarily hypothetical. However, Mr Hindley could easily have sided with his more senior colleagues had he wished to avoid independent scrutiny of WRVS funding, and especially any possible questions of “impropriety”.[56] It would be illogical for a person who was attempting to cover up the funding of a controversial organisation by channelling funds through the account of another organisation to advocate for a large-scale review of the activities and funding of the cover organisation. The review was proposed little more than a year after the covert grant was said to have been renewed. By ceding control of the review question, first to Mr Hulbert in asking him to prepare the initial note, then to his superiors and then to an external reviewer, Mr Hindley would have risked exposing the arrangement and his role in it. The attitude conveyed in Mr Hindley’s note of 15 January 1981 is not consistent with that of someone who wished to suppress such an arrangement. There is a mismatch between the language in the note and the language Mr Hulbert described from their conversation in Mr Hindley’s office.

60. The Home Office commissioned an independent review into the claim that the VSU had provided funds to PIE in the 1970s.[57] The review concluded, on the balance of probabilities, that the funding of PIE by the Home Office did not take place.[58]

61. This independent review was itself reviewed by Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC.[59] Mr Wanless and Mr Whittam considered that the conclusion that the alleged funding of PIE did not take place “is not a fully satisfactory answer to whether the Home Office ever directly or indirectly funded PIE” and that they could not “offer categorical assurance one way or the other”.[60] They concluded that it would be “odd but not impossible[61] that Special Branch funded PIE via a Home Office budget to somehow keep track of its members and their activity:

the official records offer no direct evidence to suggest it did, and no other civil servant we have had contact with has corroborated Mr Hulbert’s memory, but the records are insufficiently complete to rule it out entirely”.[62]

62. The final submissions made to the Inquiry on Mr Hulbert’s behalf by his Counsel, Sam Stein QC, revealed a subtle but significant change of position. In oral closing submissions, Mr Stein submitted “you should find, and should report, that Mr Hulbert told the truth; and find that he did see evidence that the Home Office, or persons working within the Home Office, had provided, or had intended to provide, substantial funding to the Paedophile Information Exchange[63] (although he conceded that there was no corroboration or evidence of a “money trail[64]). In written closing submissions, Mr Stein repeatedly asserted that the Home Office “or persons working within the Home Office, did fund, or intended to fund the Paedophile Information Exchange”.[65] This extends the allegation from the Home Office itself to include the alternative of “persons working within the Home Office” and from actual provision of funding to possibly only an intention to fund PIE.

63. Until this point, Mr Hulbert had alleged that PIE was funded by the Home Office, at the request of either the Security Services or Special Branch, not that it was merely intended to be funded by persons working within the Home Office. Mr Hulbert’s allegation was that he saw a grant renewal spreadsheet entry indicating that the Home Office was funding PIE, and that Mr Hindley then confirmed, first, that the entry did refer to PIE and, second, that the VSU was funding PIE at the request of the Security Services or Special Branch. This is the allegation that was investigated by the Home Office, the findings of which were considered by the Wanless and Whittam review. While Mr Wanless and Mr Whittam did briefly consider whether “money might have been passed through to PIE without Government sanction, but instead by an individual exceeding their authority knowing that there was no real audit”,[66] they expressly noted that this was not Mr Hulbert’s allegation:

The only material that directly supports the existence of such a payment currently comes from Mr Hulbert who recollects that may only have been done on behalf of those investigating PIE, not as a way of the HO, or someone within the HO exceeding their authority, providing financial assistance for PIE because either supported it[s] aims.[67]

64. Before this Inquiry, Mr Hulbert stated in oral evidence that he cannot prove that the funds did in fact go through the WRVS.[68] In his written closing submissions after the hearing, he stated that he is “entirely unaware of whether the grant renewal was ever transferred to the Paedophile Information Exchange, or what Mr Hindley did subsequently”.[69] The change in emphasis matters because it is more serious to allege that the Home Office provided funding to PIE at the request of the Security Services or Special Branch than to suggest, as Mr Hulbert’s counsel now has, that an individual employee of the Home Office planned to channel VSU funding to PIE but the plan was ultimately not carried out.

65. Reverend Davies died in 2018. He worked in the VSU from 1977 to 1979.[70] The Wanless and Whittam review did not contact him, apparently because they understood that Mr Hulbert had been in touch with him in 2014 and so he was considered to be a less satisfactory source of information than others.[71] Mr Hulbert had drawn Mr Wanless and Mr Whittam’s attention to the potential importance of Reverend Davies’ evidence as the person who he thought had first drawn his attention to the funding of PIE.[72] Mr Hulbert’s suggestion was not followed up. We are not satisfied that sufficient steps have yet been taken by the Home Office to contact other relevant individuals, including Brian Chaplin. We were told that enquiries are still ongoing. It appears that they have been significantly delayed given no substantive steps appear to have been made to locate Brian Chaplin since May 2015.[73]

66. In February 2014, Reverend Davies told police that he could not recall any funding or any paperwork in relation to PIE funding while he worked at the VSU. He also could not recall ever showing Mr Hulbert a spreadsheet, ledger or any document about PIE funding or grants.[74] In 2017, Reverend Davies told the Inquiry that he had a vague recollection, possibly from early 1979, when the general conversation was about WRVS funding and someone used the expression ‘PIE’. He could not be sure but thought it was Mr Hulbert. He did not recognise the expression ‘PIE’ and never gave it another thought because it was not something on his radar. He did not see any documents to the best of his recollection with ‘PIE’ marked on them. He had no thoughts about money being diverted. If he had, he would have raised it with Mr Hindley.[75]

67. Reverend Davies referred to an email exchange with Mr Hulbert on 30 June 2016 following a phone call with Mr Hulbert.[76] Mr Hulbert subsequently sent an email to Reverend Davies referring to his memory of seeing ‘WRVS (P.I.E.)’ and asking him to put in writing what he had said on the phone. In response, Reverend Davies stated that he did “recall very clearly the questions raised on the WRVS renewal” and assured Mr Hulbert that his memory was “still very accurate”, but did not mention or confirm the allegation concerning PIE. Mr Hulbert submitted that he was “unable to say why Mr Davies’ evidence has been equivocal”, and “because of his personal regard for Mr Davies” Mr Hulbert was “very reluctant to speculate as to the reasons for Mr Davies’ apparent failure to more clearly corroborate” his account.[77] Reverend Davies’ evidence was inconclusive and inconsistent with the accounts Mr Hulbert has given. Reverend Davies did not, in his email, provide any clear confirmation of Mr Hulbert’s allegation, but it also appears to be inconsistent with his 2014 and 2017 statements where he said that he could not recall any paperwork in relation to PIE funding and that he did not recognise the expression ‘PIE’ at the time.

68. Tom O’Carroll joined PIE in 1974 and eventually became its chair, before being convicted in 1981 of conspiracy to corrupt public morals and in 2006 of distributing indecent photographs of children. O’Carroll provided a written statement to the Inquiry, the relevant part of which was adduced in evidence.[78] O’Carroll said he found any suggestion that PIE received up to £70,000 in funding to be “preposterous”. He said that PIE operated on very limited funds and relied largely on membership fees, and that he was not aware of any large donations to PIE of any sort, including personal donations.[79] He said that PIE’s financial report for 1977/78 appears to make it clear that PIE did not receive large grants from any source and was running at a loss.[80] O’Carroll further stated:

With a membership that never exceeded about 250 people at any one time, and members paying probably around £5 each, that would have given us an annual income of about £1250, plus the sales etc. The overall total would have been no more than £2000 or so, which would just about have funded the production, by the cheapest methods possible, of future publications. To appreciate that we were running on a shoestring, you only need to look at the production quality of the magazines etc. that we produced. You would not have mistaken Magpie for Vogue.[81]

However, he said that PIE was associated with organisations that did receive public funds and in that sense may have benefited from that funding.[82]

69. Tom O’Carroll is an unashamed advocate and apologist for paedophilia, as well as having convictions for corruption of public morals and distributing indecent photographs of children. Despite this, on this issue, his account is in keeping with other evidence tending to suggest that PIE was not supported financially in the way and to the extent suggested by Mr Hulbert.

70. O’Carroll’s account on this issue is supported by contemporaneous documents. PIE’s magazine Magpie dated October–December 1979 (a few months after Mr Hulbert alleges he saw the spreadsheet entry, according to his 2019 statement) contains a section entitled ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears Department: The Continuing Crisis’ which states, insofar as relevant:

Many thanks to those who have sent in money and offers of help in the present crisis … PIE’s general financial state is now looking grim, thanks to the soaring cost of producing Magpie … in the meantime funds are desperately needed … the EC recently decided … (i) to bring out this issue of Magpie in unchanged format – later issues, unless money is forthcoming, will have to be much less lavishly produced, (ii) to forego an a.g.m. this year.[83]

These remarks do not suggest an organisation which had received a grant (or multiple grants, as the grant was said to be a renewal) of £30,000 in government funding, or was due to receive the renewal of such a grant.

71. The Inquiry’s legal team conducted searches at MI5 for documents that might indicate that PIE was funded by the Home Office. An internal MI5 note dated 1983 positively suggested to the contrary:

A Treasurer’s Report which was compiled in October 1982 showed that there was £460.48½ in the P.I.E.’s account. Recently, P.I.E.’s finances are thought to be in a parlous state. There is no evidence of any other source of funds except from the membership.[84]

72. Searches were also conducted of Metropolitan Police Special Branch (MPSB) records, and the records of Special Branch offices throughout the country. None of these searches has revealed any documents which suggest that PIE may have been funded by the VSU. However, there was a Special Branch file opened on PIE in July 1978 that was destroyed in 1999 in accordance with standard destruction criteria.[85] The Commander of the Counterterrorism Command confirmed by letter to the Wanless and Whittam Review in 2014 that a search of records produced no information that suggests that the MPSB had any role in investigating PIE, or that the MPSB would have wanted or encouraged any financial support from the Home Office in order to continue any MPSB investigations into PIE.[86]

73. Accounts for the relevant period are not available from the WRVS.[87] The Inquiry has seen a Home Office document dated 11 October 1978 which includes amounts for three VSU grants-in-aid to the WRVS for each of the seven financial years from 1971/72 to 1977/78, and estimates of overall amounts to be granted to the WRVS in the years 1978/79 and 1979/80.[88] It was argued for Mr Hulbert in opening that records for both the Home Office and WRVS are missing “for, and only for, the very three years in which Mr Hulbert says that a grant was made from the Home Office VSU to PIE via WRVS”.[89] It is not correct that both sets of records are missing “only for” those years; records for the WRVS, at least, are not available for any year until 1991/92.[90] Grants made to the WRVS were approved by ministers and put before Parliament by way of a global sum that was not broken down.[91] There is nothing suspicious in the fact that the WRVS did not keep accounts from that time. We have received evidence that the Home Office had no specific document retention and disposal policies prior to 1982.[92] It would have been preferable if the Home Office had kept records of grants made.

74. Counsel on Mr Hulbert’s behalf insisted that there could be no doubt that his evidence was factually correct. He submitted that nothing explains Mr Hulbert’s evidence “other than the fact that it is true”,[93] and that Mr Hulbert’s account of his meeting with Mr Hindley confirmed “in a manner incapable of any misinterpretation[94] that the grant renewal was intended for PIE:

“There clearly could not have been a mistake on the part of Mr Hulbert … ”.[95]

“There is no room for mistake, for confusion or for any misunderstanding of Mr Hulbert’s evidence regarding this crucial meeting [with Mr Hindley]. The funding was for the Paedophile Information Exchange”.[96]

There is a possibility of misinterpretation, given the lesser degree of certainty in Mr Hulbert’s original 2013 account which referred to an “impression[97] as to Mr Hindley’s response and not the detailed three points that Mr Hulbert later recalled. Moreover, even if taken at its height, this does not mean that the Home Office did in fact fund PIE, only that Mr Hulbert took from what Mr Hindley said that the Home Office did fund PIE. Mr Hulbert appears to accept that there may be an explanation for what he heard and saw that is consistent with the Home Office not providing funds to PIE, or that his account does not inevitably mean that funds were provided to PIE.

75. Mr Hulbert’s counsel submitted that he “has previously been found, by two separate Home Office Reviews, to have been a credible and a truthful witness in relation to his account”.[98] That is not right; his account was found credible by one review, that of the first independent reviewer.[99] However, that review also concluded that on the balance of probabilities the alleged funding of PIE by the VSU did not take place.[100] The Wanless and Whittam review did not specifically find Mr Hulbert to be credible, but appeared to accept that he was honest.

76. On the basis of this finding of credibility by the Home Office-commissioned review, it was suggested that “the Inquiry will have to approach, treat and find that Mr Hulbert’s testimony is very likely to be true”,[101]that the core elements of Mr Hulbert’s evidence are true and that the events he described occurred[102] and that “the Inquiry must find that Mr Hulbert’s account is true”.[103] This does not follow. First, this Inquiry is independent of what has gone before and is not bound by what any previous review has found in the past, not least because we have heard Mr Hulbert’s evidence on oath which the first independent reviewer and Mr Wanless and Mr Whittam did not. Second, there may be some distance between an account given honestly and it being wholly factually accurate. A witness may give an honest and intelligent account of their own experience, and genuinely believe that what they are saying is true, but also be susceptible to the fallibility of memory, the memory playing tricks,[104] mistake, misinterpretation, misrepresentation on the part of another, or an incomplete understanding of what they heard or saw.

77. Mr Hulbert gave his account honestly, and candidly conceded its limitations. At least some of the inconsistencies among his accounts can be explained by the passage of several decades since the time of the events in question. However, we were not convinced by Mr Hulbert’s assertion that his memory has improved over time. It is clear that, following a conversation with Mr Hindley, Mr Hulbert left Mr Hindley’s office under the impression that the Home Office had provided (and was continuing to provide) funding to PIE at the request of the Security Services or Special Branch. We do not consider that Mr Hulbert has done other than his honest best to assist the Inquiry, but it does not follow that PIE was in fact funded in the way he has alleged (as Mr Hulbert himself accepts).[105] In all the evidence we have seen and heard, there is no independent support for Mr Hulbert’s allegation that PIE was funded in this way, and there is some evidence which undermines it.

78. We were referred by Mr Hulbert’s counsel to a number of academic articles authored by Clifford Hindley during the 1990s and published in journals such as The Musical Quarterly and The Classical Quarterly, focussing for example on the works of Benjamin Britten. In his oral closing submissions on behalf of Mr Hulbert, Mr Stein submitted that these writings demonstrate that Mr Hindley was, as he put it, “sympathetic to pederasty”.[106] We do not consider that these writings assist us. They do not go to the issue of whether the Home Office provided funding to PIE; in particular, they do not lend support to the assertion that it did.

79. There is no available evidence to suggest that PIE as an organisation actually received a grant or grants of Home Office funding. This should go some way towards assuaging the central public concern that taxpayers’ money was used to fund PIE. We have not heard or seen any evidence apart from Mr Hulbert’s account that the Home Office provided funding to PIE. The available contemporaneous documents and witness evidence suggest that the alleged funding was not provided.

References

Back to top