Apologists for paedophiles: How Labour Deputy Harriet Harman, her shadow minister husband and former Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt were all linked to a group lobbying for the right to have sex with children
- Magpie magazine distributed in the late Seventies to members of PIE
- PIE is Paedophile Information Exchange – the name of a far-Left lobby group
- Called for legalisation of child sex and age of consent to be lowered to four
- Emerged this week Labour government of the time may helped finance the organisation and The Magpie
- Home Office now ordered a ‘thorough, independent investigation’ into claims
- Hewitt, Harman and husband Dromey encountered the PIE as young officials in the National Council for Civil Liberties
PUBLISHED: 00:27, 14 December 2013 | UPDATED: 14:34, 14 December 2013
Past: Labour’s Harriet Harman, pictured in 1982, when she was cutting her political teeth
At first sight, it might be a harmless parish magazine or the newsletter of a respectable society of bird-watching enthusiasts.
Called The Magpie, the now-yellowing A5-size pamphlet was distributed in the late Seventies to members of an organisation called the PIE. The inside cover carries a workmanlike ‘editor’s letter’ highlighting ‘our third annual AGM, which is to be held in London in the summer’, and inviting readers to seek election to ‘our Executive Committee’.
Page three advertises a memorial service for recently deceased PIE member Alan Doggett, who worked as the conductor of the London Boys’ Choir, and was apparently to be remembered for his ‘friendliness, integrity and loyalty’. There follows a selection of short news stories, a letters page and several long feature articles, which are scholarly in tone and peppered with academic jargon.
But it doesn’t take long for any right-minded person who flicks through The Magpie — dispatched quarterly in plain brown envelopes to up to 1,000 members — to realise that behind its matter-of-fact tone and appearance, something is terribly, terribly, amiss.
For the initials PIE stand for Paedophile Information Exchange. This turns out to be the name of a far-Left lobby group which spent much of the Seventies and early Eighties publicly calling for the legalisation of child sex — and the age of consent to be lowered to four.
Today, PIE has been widely forgotten. But at the time, it achieved prominence for circulating articles by tame psychologists and cod scientists promoting the ‘rights’ of paedophiles.
Take, for example, a long article by Dr Edward Brongersma, a Dutch politician and academic who was renowned for his ultra-liberal views on sexual morality.
‘A sexual relationship between a child and an adult does not harm the child and may be even beneficial,’ he argues, ‘providing that the adult partner is considerate, loving and affectionate.’
Take also an article in which a PIE member called Keith Spence, who had recently moved to Stockholm, writes of his (unsuccessful) efforts to abuse ‘heart-shatteringly beautiful’ children at the local swimming pool.
‘If you think England is frustrating for paedophiles, you should try living in Sweden for a bit,’ he complains.
Towards the back of the journal are adverts for a book called Towards A Better Perspective For Boy-Lovers, and admiring reviews of magazines with names such as Male International, Kim, and Boys Express.
Today, almost 35 years later, the contents of The Magpie seem so vile and amoral, and the activities of a lobby group dedicated to advancing the human rights of predatory paedophiles so disgusting, that it’s incredible either was allowed legally to exist at all.
However, it now seems that the Paedophile Information Exchange wasn’t just tolerated by the liberal authorities of the time. There is growing evidence that the era’s Left-wing establishment saw it as a socially acceptable pressure group and actively encouraged its ugly campaigns and sinister public meetings.
Claims: Patricia Hewitt, former health secretary and former member of the National Council for Civil Liberties
Indeed, it emerged this week that the Labour government of the Seventies may even have helped finance the organisation and its morally bankrupt publication The Magpie.
On Sunday, the Home Office announced that it had ordered a ‘thorough, independent investigation’ into shocking allegations that the Paedophile Information Exchange received public funds while James Callaghan was in Downing Street.
It will examine whether tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money was funnelled to it via the Voluntary Services Unit [VSU], a department of the Home Office that gave annual grants to charities and non-profit-making lobby groups.
The probe comes after a whistle-blower had claimed the payments were signed off, over several years, by a senior civil servant who worked under Labour’s then Home Secretary, Merlyn Rees.
Dig beneath the surface of this ugly scandal, however, and you will soon discover that Lord Rees — who died in 2006 — is a long way from being the only prominent Labourite whose good name may be tarnished by it.
For it also raises tricky questions for three of the most senior Labour figures of recent times: deputy leader Harriet Harman, former Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt, and shadow housing minister Jack Dromey, a former party treasurer and Harman’s husband.
Turn the clock back to the Seventies and this trio had strangely close links to the Paedophile Information Exchange. And the long-defunct organisation’s sudden return to the news pages may very well bring those links back to haunt them.
Disturbing: Labour Deputy Harriet Harman with her shadow minister husband Jack Dromey
Harman, Hewitt and Dromey first encountered the PIE when they were cutting their political teeth as young officials in the National Council for Civil Liberties [NCCL].
This tub-thumping human rights organisation — these days known as Liberty — was far more radical than its modern equivalent, and was actively forging alliances with a host of ultra-liberal pressure groups.
One such group was the PIE. In 1975, it somehow succeeded in convincing the NCCL to grant it official ‘affiliate’ status.
The move was a signal victory for radical Left-wing activists, who had for years lobbied for more ‘enlightened’ attitudes towards sex between adults and children.
It was also, of course, a PR coup for those who sought to promote paedophilia.
‘The PIE somehow managed to convince feminists and the gay rights lobby that they had shared values and that we all belonged in the same club,’ recalls one feminist writer whose magazine was lobbied for support by the PIE after the Exchange won NCCL affiliation.
‘Anyone who spoke out against them feared being called a “homophobe”, which in Left-wing circles at the time was about the biggest insult anyone could throw at you. So they were invited into the liberal establishment.’
A PIE ‘information’ leaflet published at the time, called Paedophilia: Some Questions And Answers, shows how the organisation had managed to ally its cause to the gay rights movement.
‘Homosexuals are now widely regarded as ordinary, healthy people — a minority, but no more “ill” than the minority who are left-handed,’ it read. ‘There is no reason why paedophilia should not win similar acceptance.’
The NCCL — then under the chairmanship of Henry Hodge, the Left-wing solicitor who would go on to marry Labour MP Margaret Hodge — appears to have bought this argument hook, line and sinker.
‘The PIE was also being picketed by the National Front, so a lot of people also supported them on the basis that our enemy’s enemy had to be our friend,’ says the writer. ‘It seems terrifyingly simplistic now, obviously, but that was the political context.’
Over the ensuing years, the NCCL — which had Hewitt as its General Secretary from 1974-83 — provided valuable support to the paedophile lobby as it pursued a string of legal and political campaigns designed to advance its twisted agenda.
In 1975, for example, the NCCL conference was addressed by the PIE chairman, Keith Hose. Delegates passed a motion declaring that ‘awareness and acceptance of the sexuality of children is an essential part of the liberation of the young homosexual’.
In 1976, with Jack Dromey on its executive (he served from 1970-79), the NCCL filed a submission to a parliamentary committee claiming that a proposed Bill to protect children from sex abusers would lead to ‘damaging and absurd prosecutions’.
‘Childhood sexual experiences, willingly engaged in, with an adult result in no identifiable damage,’ it read. ‘The real need is a change in the attitude which assumes that all cases of paedophilia result in lasting damage.’
Political: Harriet Harman (centre) and Patricia Hewitt (to her right), at a press conference held by the National Council for Civil Liberties in 1990
The statement might have been cut-and-pasted from the propaganda book of the Paedophile Information Exchange.
Two years later, in 1978, Harriet Harman, then a newly qualified solicitor, became the NCCL’s legal officer. She promptly wrote its official response to Parliament’s Protection of Children Bill, which sought to ban child pornography.
Her letter claimed that such a law would ‘increase censorship’, and argued that a pornographic picture of a naked child should not be considered indecent unless it could be proven that the subject had suffered.
‘Our amendment [to the proposed law] places the onus of proof on the prosecution to show that the child was actually harmed,’ she wrote.
Such statements, from officials in what was (and is) a respected human rights organisation, may go some way towards explaining how the Labour-run Home Office of the era might have allowed public grants to be directed towards the PIE.
The NCCL presided over by Harman, Hewitt, Hodge and Dromey had, after all, helped foster an environment where woolly liberalism trumped child protection.
To many on the Left, promoting the ‘rights’ of paedophiles came to be regarded as a legitimate act of political subversion.
Sources close to the Home Office investigation, which was announced this week, say the whistle-blower who sparked it first came forward in the late Seventies. However, his concerns were ignored by officials working for Labour Home Secretary Merlyn Rees.
Previous roles: Harriet Harman pictured aged 32 with the shadow home Secretary, Mr Roy Hattersley, when she was a solicitor for the National Council for Civil Liberties
I understand that the civil servant suspected of approving the Voluntary Services Unit grants to the Paedophile Information Exchange in the Seventies died in 2006.
Officials are now trying to establish the nature of this man’s relationship with the late Steven Adrian Smith, a former chairman of the Paedophile Information Exchange who was employed as a security guard in the basement of the Home Office during the same era.
If the two men were working in cahoots, it will surely fuel suspicions that an establishment paedophile ring had been allowed to take root in the department.
After all, it emerged earlier this year that Geoffrey Dickens, a Tory MP who campaigned against paedophilia, had approached the then-Home Secretary Leon Brittan in 1983 with allegations concerning widespread abuse of children, some of it by prominent individuals, in children’s care homes.
Nothing appears ever to have come of Dickens’s claims.
As for the Paedophile Information Exchange, its fortunes began to wane in 1981 when secretary Tom O’Carroll — a press officer for the Open University — was jailed for conspiring to corrupt public morals by publishing ‘contact’ advertisements (which put readers in touch with vendors of child porn) in an edition of The Magpie.
Apology: Leader of Liberty – formerly the NCCL – Shami Chakrabarti has offered a public apology for the scandal
Even after O’Carroll’s fall from grace, Patricia Hewitt was willing to stick up for the organisation. In a 1982 essay entitled The Police And Civil Liberties, she offered a thundering critique of his trial.
‘Conspiring to corrupt public morals is an offence incapable of definition or precise proof,’ she wrote, arguing that O’Carroll’s involvement in distributing child porn had ‘overshadowed the deplorable nature of the conspiracy charge used by the prosecution’.
But sympathy in the National Council for Civil Liberties for the PIE’s aims was fading. In 1983, its affiliation was formally withdrawn. And the PIE disbanded in 1984.
The ensuing years saw its reputation permanently sunk, following the convictions of dozens of prominent members for child sex offences.
Among them was Charles Napier, its treasurer, who was jailed in 1995 for indecently assaulting a 14-year-old boy.
Also disgraced was Peter Righton, a key government adviser on children’s homes, and a PIE founder, who was fined in 1992 for possessing child porn. He died in 2006, never prosecuted for abusing boys in his care — though he openly admitted doing so.
As for Harman, Hewitt and Dromey, they went on to climb successfully the greasy ladder of politics.
Despite the public revulsion against paedophilia, none of the trio would ever properly apologise for the NCCL’s historic links to the Paedophile Information Exchange.
Indeed, a spokesman for Harman said yesterday that despite her employment by the NCCL during its formal affiliation, ‘the very suggestion that Harriet was in any way supportive of the PIE or its aims is untrue and misleading’.
It has been left to Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty — who, born in 1969, had nothing to do with the affair — to offer the only public apology.
‘It is a source of continuing disgust and horror that even the NCCL had to expel paedophiles from its ranks in 1983 after infiltration at some point in the Seventies,’ she told me yesterday.
‘The most important lesson learned by Liberty over the subsequent 30 years was to become a well-governed modern human rights movement in which protecting the vulnerable, especially children, will always come first.’
With fresh light about to be shed on this dark passage in history, it’s a message that other — perhaps more guilty — parties would be well advised to heed.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2523526/How-Labour-Deputy-Harriet-Harman-shadow-minister-husband-Health-Secretary-Patricia-Hewitt-linked-group-lobbying-right-sex-children.html#ixzz2nSuENYNh
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