In 1975, Scotland Yard carried out a high-profile child abuse investigation which centred on the Playland amusement arcade near Piccadilly Circus, and involved the sexual exploitation of homeless boys. The investigation led to five convictions in September 1975. Four of the men convicted were ‘nobodies’, but one – Charles Hornby – was a pillar of the Establishment. He was a wealthy socialite, a Lloyd’s underwriter, and an old Etonian, “who on occasion had Prince Charles among his dinner guests”.
The four ‘nobodies’ later had their sentences reduced in mysterious circumstances. One of them, David Archer, alleged that Hornby was far from being the only VIP involved in the Playland scandal.
Last night Archer said he would present the police with a dossier naming the ‘millionaires and titled and influential people’ involved in the Playland affair. He added: ‘I believe there was a tremendous cover-up to protect these people.’
A clue as to the identity of one of these ‘titled and influential people’ appeared nearly a decade later with the publication of Philip Ziegler’s biography of Lord Moutbatten.
In 1975, Mountbatten was told that gossip had linked him to a homosexual scandal. He recorded in his diary: “I might have been accused of many things but hardly the act of homosexuality.”