How three of the party’s most senior figures campaigned for a vile paedophile group now being probed by police for ‘abusing children on an industrial scale’
- Documents found by Mail show link between Left-wing and paedophiles
- Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and Patricia Hewitt held senior positions at National Council for Civil Liberties before rising to top of the Labour party
- The NCCL was an ‘affiliate’ of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), whose members may have abused children on an ‘industrial scale’
- Paperwork reveals NCCL helped lobby Parliament for the age of sexual consent to be cut to as low as ten and called for incest to be legalised
By Guy Adams
Appearing in the pages of a Left-wing magazine called Rights, it was, by any account, an extraordinary letter.
Written by one Mike Morten, who lived in London and described himself as ‘both a paedophile and gay’, the letter complained that laws forbidding him from having sex with children ‘interfere with my life and civil liberties’.
‘Consensual sex between adults and children is simply people of different age groups being nice to each other,’ it argued.
Morten then criticised recent newspaper articles which had described perpetrators of child sex offences as ‘molesters’.
‘This is a loaded and pejorative term,’ he declared. ‘It’s a totally inaccurate description of us, and a put-down, in much the same way that “pansy” is a put-down of gays and “n*****” a put-down of blacks.’
The letter was dated October 1982, and today his words seem so bizarre, so appalling, that a casual reader could be forgiven for wondering if they are a grotesque spoof.
No magazine, of any political persuasion, would dare to carry material that attempted to portray paedophiles as some sort of oppressed minority.
Neither would the oxygen of publicity be given to a self-confessed sexual predator who, like Morten, wanted to convince readers that small children might somehow ‘enjoy’ being abused by adults.
The publisher of a printed title which advanced such morally repugnant views, apparently in the name of political correctness, would surely be committing career suicide.
Yet Rights was no knockabout spoof. And the people behind its publication certainly didn’t sink without trace.
Quite the reverse, in fact.
The now dog-eared 1982 magazine, which I have unearthed in archives, was the quarterly journal of the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL), the well-known lobby group which is now called Liberty.
Known as a radical campaigning organisation, the NCCL was that year being run by three tub-thumping young Left-wingers who would rise to extremely senior positions in the Labour Party.
One was Patricia Hewitt, who as general secretary of the NCCL from 1974 to 1983 was at the helm of the organisation. She went on to become Tony Blair’s Health Secretary, and nowadays has a lucrative seat as a non-executive director on the board of BT earning £160,000 a year for a part-time job.
Another was Harriet Harman, the current Labour Deputy Leader. She served as its legal officer from 1978 until October 28, 1982, when she won a by-election and entered Parliament as the MP for Camberwell and Peckham.
A third was Jack Dromey, Harman’s husband, who sat on the NCCL’s executive committee for more than a decade.
He would go on to serve as Labour’s party treasurer under Tony Blair, and after standing for Parliament in 2010, now is one of Ed Miliband’s shadow ministers, with responsibility for communities and local government.
The trio cut their political teeth in the NCCL, forging lifelong alliances with liberal activists that have stayed with them to the present day.
Yet as suggested by Mike Morten’s deeply troubling letter — which graced the NCCL’s in-house magazine — some of these alliances are today starting to look very murky indeed.
The reason is the NCCL’s formal relationship — throughout their reign — with the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), a lobby group which was formed in 1975 to advance the ‘human rights’ of predatory paedophiles.
At its height, PIE boasted almost 1,000 members and publicly campaigned for child sex to be legalised, and for the age of consent to be lowered to four.
Its literature, which quoted cod scientists and psychologists, was often sent to Parliamentary committees.
One such document — a copy of which I have obtained — argued that sexual relationships between adults and children tend to be ‘actually beneficial to the child’.
It made the revolting claim that ‘girls as young as four months can achieve orgasm’, and that four-year-old children ‘can communicate verbally’ their consent to sex.
A leaflet PIE sent to MPs, entitled ‘Paedophilia: some questions and answers’, claimed: ‘Paedophiles are ordinary, decent, sensible human beings, no more sexually depraved than yourself, and with a capacity for loving and helping children which is at present being repressed.’
Over the years, amid widespread controversy, several similarly controversial books were published by PIE.
It wasn’t until 1984, after the organisation’s leaders had been convicted of a string of appalling crimes, that it was eventually disbanded.
‘Where one partner is aged 10 or over, but under 14, the law should presume that consent was not present, unless it is demonstrated that it was genuinely given and the child understood the nature of the act’
– National Council for Civil Liberties’ submission to Parliament on the 1976 Sexual Offences Act
Amazingly, during almost all of this morally bankrupt existence, the Paedophile Information Exchange had enjoyed a formal working relationship with the National Council for Civil Liberties.
Their cosy collaboration began in 1975, when PIE was granted official ‘affiliate’ status with the NCCL — then led by Hewitt, with Dromey on its executive — after arguing they shared common goals regarding sexual liberation.
At the time, the gay rights movement was hugely fashionable in liberal circles. PIE successfully aligned itself to that cause, claiming that paedophiles were as much an oppressed minority as homosexuals.
The NCCL took this bait. Indeed, over ensuing years, despite the disgusting nature of PIE’s publications and public pronouncements, it worked tirelessly to legitimise many of its political aims.
In 1976, for example, Hewitt’s organisation lobbied Parliament for the age of sexual consent to be lowered to ten (if the child consented and ‘understood the nature of the act’), and, I have discovered, for incest to be legalised.
With Harman as its legal officer, the NCCL in 1978 also attempted to water down child porn laws.
A string of motions were passed at NCCL annual general meetings supporting the ‘human rights’ of paedophiles. The organisation’s staff also provided PIE activists with endless legal support in their battles with police and the Press.
All of which might have been long forgotten, were it not for a rumbling scandal that recently returned PIE to the headlines.
A couple of months ago, the Home Office announced that it had launched a ‘thorough, independent investigation’ into claims that PIE had secretly received public funding while Labour prime minister James Callaghan was in Downing Street.
The inquiry will attempt to establish whether payments to the pro-paedophilia group totalling tens of thousands of pounds were signed off by a civil servant who worked under Labour’s then Home Secretary, Merlyn Rees.
It will also focus attention on the question of how an organisation so obviously malign achieved sufficient respectability in Left-wing circles to be deemed a worthy recipient of public funds.
The NCCL, and its relationship with PIE, lies at the heart of this question.
All of which perhaps explains why, when this newspaper first reported the NCCL’s now very embarrassing links to PIE in December, neither Harman, nor Hewitt, nor Dromey was eager to elaborate on the issue.
Hewitt did not comment at all. A spokesman for Harman claimed: ‘The very suggestion that Harriet was in any way supportive of PIE or its aims is untrue and misleading.’
Dromey, meanwhile, told reporters that he had always been an ‘implacable opponent’ of the paedophile organisation.
We must, of course, take them at their word. But quite what Hewitt, Dromey or Harman ever actually did actively (or ‘implacably’) to oppose PIE is, however, open to question.
I have explored the archives of internal NCCL documents held at both the University of Hull and the London School of Economics, seeking to trace the real history of its relationship with the paedophile lobby of the Seventies.
These papers suggest that the two organisations and their leaders were far, far closer than previously thought.
Take, for example, the first mention of the Paedophile Information Exchange in NCCL literature — in Patricia Hewitt’s annual report to her members for 1975, published in April 1976.
There, she describes PIE in glowing terms as ‘a campaigning/counselling group for adults sexually attracted to children’.
Hewitt then complains that PIE had recently been the subject of a ‘hysterical and highly inaccurate’ article in the Sunday People newspaper headlined ‘the vilest men in Britain’, which was ‘designed to foster misunderstanding and hatred’.
The NCCL’s legal department made a complaint to the Press Council — the media regulator of the day — over the article, ‘and also acted for some of the men when there were police inquiries as a result of the article’.
All of which means that, with Hewitt as general secretary, and Dromey on its executive, NCCL staff worked directly for the Paedophile Information Exchange.
Later in 1976, the NCCL made a submission to Parliament’s Criminal Law Revision Committee suggesting that the age of consent be lowered to 14.
This document, held in full in archives, makes for sobering reading. It goes on to say that sex with children aged ten or over should also become legal if ‘it is demonstrated that [consent] was genuinely given and the child understood the nature of the act’.
It further advocates the legalisation of incest thus: ‘In our view, no benefit accrues to anyone by making incest a crime when committed between mutually consenting persons over the age of consent.’
One MP dubbed the submission a ‘Lolita’s charter’.
The NCCL’s magazine then carried an obscene cartoon portraying its critics as prudes.
In the summer of 1976, the NCCL held its annual general meeting in London.
One motion, filed by Keith Hose — a self-confessed paedophile and co-founder of PIE — and Nettie Pollard, a lesbian activist who worked at the NCCL, ‘notes with disapproval the continued harassment’ of the Paedophile Information Exchange, which is ‘working for the rights of adults who are sexually interested in children’.
For reasons which remain unclear, it does not appear to have been voted on.
A year later, the NCCL’s management compiled a response to any journalists who might start asking awkward questions about its PIE affiliation.
It revealed that the NCCL had quietly adopted another item of PIE propaganda as policy: that prosecution of paedophiles can ‘harm’ the children they abuse.
‘We support any organisation that seeks to campaign for anything it wants within the law,’ read the statement.
‘We have had plenty of contact with PIE, but the NCCL has no policy on their aims — other than the evidence that children are harmed if , after a mutual relationship with an adult, they are exposed to the attentions of the police, Press and the courts.’
In 1978, the NCCL submitted a briefing paper to Parliament on the upcoming Protection of Children Bill, which sought among other things to outlaw child pornography.
Written by Harriet Harman, the briefing advanced an extraordinary argument: that images of naked children should only be considered pornographic if it could be proven that the subject had suffered.
Her letter claimed that such a law would ‘increase censorship’ and should therefore be watered down.
‘Our amendment [to the proposed law] places the onus of proof on the prosecution to show that the child was actually harmed,’ Harman wrote.
Her submission also advised that an image of children seized by police in an abuse investigation should be returned to its owner (rather than destroyed) following a trial unless ‘it formed part of the evidence which led to the conviction’.
Again, such arguments duplicated those of the Paedophile Information Exchange.
A year later, the NCCL — with Hewitt as its leader, and Harman as legal officer — drafted a response to a government working paper on sexual legislation.
It again called for the legalisation of incest, and described the age of consent as an ‘inhumanity’.
With regard to paedophilia, it added that ‘research has consistently shown that a high proportion of the young people concerned are, in the ordinary sense, consenting or even the initiators of the sexual acts involved’.
It remains unclear whether that response was ever actually submitted.
In 1980, the self-confessed paedophile Roger Moody published a memoir titled Indecent Assault.
In his foreword, Moody directly thanked the NCCL and its employee Nettie Pollard for help reading his manuscripts.
Ms Pollard appears to have had links to several paedophiles.
In addition to jointly filing a motion at the annual general meeting of the NCCL with PIE founder Keith Hose, as detailed earlier, she was in 1980 also thanked in the foreword of PIE leader Tom O’Carroll’s book Paedophilia: The Radical Case.
Despite the dubious nature of these associates, she was allowed to remain on the NCCL’s staff into the 1990s.
In 1981, O’Carroll ended up in court charged with conspiring to corrupt public morals.
Police investigating the case seized more than a quarter of a ton of indecent images, from a variety of addresses. Some showed images of a man abusing a one-year-old boy.
The NCCL was nonetheless outraged by the charges, which it felt were politically motivated.
It kept a file on the case, filled with briefing papers critical of the prosecution.
O’Carroll was, however, convicted and sentenced to two years in prison.
A detective who had worked on the prosecution told reporters: ‘I’ve been dealing with hard pornography for ten years now, but what I saw in this case made me go outside for a walk. It was awful. Awful.’
Even then, the NCCL was convinced that O’Carroll had been dealt an injustice.
In her 1982 book, The Abuse Of Power, Patricia Hewitt wrote: ‘The considerable controversy aroused by the case overshadowed the deplorable nature of the conspiracy charge used by the prosecution. Conspiring to corrupt public morals is an offence incapable of definition or precise proof.’
By now, PIE was starting to unravel.
In the coming years, a string of its most prominent members would find themselves in court charged with appalling sex offences.
They included David Joy, a member of its governing committee, prosecuted for indecent assault, child rape and possession of 1,129 indecent images of children.
They also included Andrew Sadler, a prep school teacher and PIE organiser jailed in Romania for sexual corruption and sex with a minor; Steven Smith, a former chairman, who was jailed for possessing indecent images ; and Morris Fraser, a co-founder.
Police are now investigating the organisation as part of Operation Fernbridge, launched in the wake of the Jimmy Savile affair.
A senior source on the investigation says there is evidence that members of PIE were abusing children ‘on an industrial scale’.
How sad that Harriet Harman, Patricia Hewitt, Jack Dromey and their colleagues at the NCCL did so little to stop it.