To wonder why no one seems bothered by links to labour MPs + paedophile rights organisation?

(955 Posts)
starlady Thu 20-Feb-14 22:54:27

The Mail has published new claims about Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and Patricia Hewitt supporting The paedophile information exchange. Thought it was a rehash of an old story, but I've looked at the evidence published, and it looks as if harriet etc do have some explaining to do. I won't link to the Mail, but the Guardian gives a more nuanced point of view here
What I'm finding puzzling is twitter is not bothered! And I haven't seen anything on mumsnet. Isn't anyone bothered? No wonder jimmy Saville et al got away with their actions. I am a labour voter myself, so I'm not trying to be partisan and stir up trouble, but the silence on this disturbs me.

VulvaBeaker Thu 20-Feb-14 23:02:13

I could be wrong but ISTR some suggestions a gay rights organisation and a high profile gay rights campaigner may have been loosely associated with them too (I had assumed that, and the harman link were total bollocks), if any of it is true at all, that might explain it largely being on the media down low. I mean how would you approach reporting that? :/

emotionsecho Thu 20-Feb-14 23:03:46

You are not alone OP, I find the whole thing including the deafening silence very disturbing too.

MyPrettyToes Thu 20-Feb-14 23:05:50

YANBU. I am bothered, really bothered by this.

VulvaBeaker Thu 20-Feb-14 23:09:06

Well if it is true (and I assumed it was shit to slur people at the time tbh) the whole story had harman, tatchell, stonewall and many of the gay marriage types on a bif list of people associated with and/or lobbying for the paedophile information exchange.

If the Harman bit is true, there's no reason why the rest can't be, and it's fairly easy to understand how some the media and the government might feel pretty bloody unenthusiastic about posting that on every billboard.

Oneglassandpuzzled Thu 20-Feb-14 23:09:29

. It has been mentioned on MN before, last year, I think.

I do not know why it arouses so little interest.

starlady Thu 20-Feb-14 23:15:47

I was talking to a pal who's a seasoned news reporter, and she's flummoxed too by the silence. We were wondering if it's a legal thing that I have missed? The only people talking about it are fascist nutters. The bit about the pornography being returned to paedophiles to stop censorship is particularly vile. At least shami from liberty has been completely clear in her condemnation

needtobediscreet Thu 20-Feb-14 23:16:25

I wasn't aware of it and agree it deserves more attention....

starlady Thu 20-Feb-14 23:22:39

Also I guess, it gives paedophiles a defence. That may be something to do with the silence.

Paedophiles believed they could get away with it as others, respectable MPs and campaigners, around them thought it was ok. There was shocking stuff going on in kids homes at the time.

I do think its a bit worrying that people don't want to question this more, presumably because they are afraid of being seen as right wing, or reactionary. We need to question our law makers attitudes, I don't want someone representing me who is so cynical they will 'get into bed' with people who have such reprehensible aims.

Alisvolatpropiis Thu 20-Feb-14 23:32:15

I have been wondering this since it first surfaced last year.



TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 20-Feb-14 23:39:01

Two of the three of them have clarified (via spokespeople) that they were opposed to the PIE back in the 70s.

I don't know enough about how powerful they were on the NCCL then, would be interested if anyone else did.

KissesBreakingWave Thu 20-Feb-14 23:42:19

They were senior figures in the National Council for Civil Liberties at the time: PIE was allowed (What where they thinking? I can only speculate that as the gay age of consent was 21 at the time there was some notion that there was an equality agenda to it, as PIE was part of the Gay Liberation Front at the time) to join as an affiliate organisation. This is non-news: the story has been out for decades. A couple of Harman's cases as a lawyer for the NCCL were part of my studies for my law finals twenty years ago, and the NCCL - called Liberty these days - took and takes on cases for all kinds of unsavoury characters. Convicts, mostly.

KarenBrockman Thu 20-Feb-14 23:42:35

I am not shocked by this as I read it when all the JS came out. There was a thread on here linking to a David Icke thread at the time. I read all sorts on there that made my hair curl and a lot of it has been published in the normal press since.

KissesBreakingWave Thu 20-Feb-14 23:46:28

Eh, I read most of it in - memory may play me false here - Scallywag twenty years ago. And, of course, around the same time Saville was getting regular invites to Chequers and Downing St.

starlady Thu 20-Feb-14 23:49:29

Yes doctrines but it would be good to see some evidence of these 3 s opposition. Or failing that, an apology or a more detailed explanation of why they appeared to support pie. Or if it's complete daily mail lies, they should sue.

Wantsunshine Thu 20-Feb-14 23:49:43

I don't know why there isn't more interest these are clearly sick minded people who are trying to bury this.
Very disturbing

starlady Thu 20-Feb-14 23:51:04

kisses perhaps it shows how much attitudes have changed in 20 years

BumPotato Thu 20-Feb-14 23:53:59

I'm struggling to understand this. Can someone explain/summarise in simple terms, please?

YANBU - isn't there a link to Islington care home abuse too?

starlady Thu 20-Feb-14 23:57:25

Harrier harman Patricia Hewitt and Jack Dromey supported a civil right group for paedophiles bumpotato, there's new evidence this week of their support. Read the link

rosesareredvioletsarepurple Thu 20-Feb-14 23:58:52


DonnaDishwater Thu 20-Feb-14 23:59:37

Too much the left's ideology is simply to back whatever goes against established morality, tradition etc. Even when it's completely evil as this is. HArman and Hewitt have always been despicable people as far saks

KissesBreakingWave Fri 21-Feb-14 00:04:39

The actual facts are that a splinter of the Gay Liberation Front, the Paedophile Information Exchange, applied for and received affiliate status with the National Council for Civil Liberties, of which the three named individuals were employees. What that status entailed, I've no idea. It didn't last long: PIE was disaffiliated in the early 80s.

Two that I know of were lawyers for the organisation, pushing civil liberties cases through the courts (Harriet Harman's biggest contributions were on prisoners' rights and the use of Contempt of Court laws to suppress publication of information about abusive practises by the government: that was the context in which I had to study her work).

Haven't read the Mail piece, unlikely to, but I doubt that anything beyond the basic facts of 'these people, who would later go on to be senior Labour figures, were employees of an organisation that did something incredibly stupid thirty years ago' is more than cherry-picked out-of-context quotes and innuendo just this side of libel.

Curious that it comes out as a front page piece (saw it on a newsstand, as it happens) just as we're coming up to the one year mark before there has to be a general election: it's very old news, after all.

KissesBreakingWave Fri 21-Feb-14 00:05:37

SauceForTheGander, that was Margaret Hodge, whose conduct was utterly fucking indefensible. She was a councillor at Islington at the time.

starlady Fri 21-Feb-14 00:29:59

kisses this is why it's been rehashed according to Greenslade

"More sensationally, it (the mail) also reproduced a document purportedly showing that the NCCL lobbied for the age of sexual consent to be reduced to 10 and urged that incest be legalised."

Harman was the lawyer who lobbied for this wasn't she? You may be right they are trying to skewer labour. I will still vote labour. But if any of these 3 were my MPs, I think I would have to rethink. Anyway I'm off to bed. Might bump in the morn to see if anyone else cam shed any light on the almost deafening silence on this one

NigellasDealer Fri 21-Feb-14 00:40:24

well i will link to the mail

wouldbemedic Fri 21-Feb-14 00:54:40

I COMPLETELY AGREE!! Why is this not front page news??

Shouldhavedoneitsooner Fri 21-Feb-14 01:47:54

It's not just a labour problem. It's a cross party problem. Thatcher's cabinet was involved in massive cover ups. We should be standing up and saying it doesn't matter what party you are the widespread abuse of children is abhorrent. Read up about it here :

It certainly seems the press are too scared to stand up to the powers that be !

Terrortree Fri 21-Feb-14 02:09:22

Who was the woman MP that was in charge of Children's Services back in the day - a body which ran children's homes (amongst other things). Child sexual abuse was widespread but she put a lid on it.

Was it HH or another woman? This has been bugging me for a while. I think the scandal was published circa 90s but related to a period of time possibly in the 70s but could be the 80s.

Please tell me it wasn't HH.

I detest the woman, but I would hate to think it is the same woman.

Terrortree Fri 21-Feb-14 02:13:47

Apologies, I've just found it via Google - it was Margaret Hodge.

Another sub-woman.

NigellasDealer Fri 21-Feb-14 02:14:55

link here terrortree

Terrortree Fri 21-Feb-14 02:17:35

Thanks Nigella - I'd just found it.

Both of them are dispicable.

pamish Fri 21-Feb-14 02:36:47

I remember it well. 1978? I wrote a long piece for Spare Rib about the CAPM trial which meant a fair bit of digging and reading all their stuff. But using this now to smear Harman is a pretty big stretch. The libertarian grouping was and is anti-censorship and they would have been hard pressed to resist going along with the PIE arguments about censorship. IIRC PIE maintained that they only wanted to talk about it, not actually do it, so NCCL would have been obliged to support them. The very existence of paedophiles was a novel concept.

Surely this is not the promised revelation about a senior politician tied up with Savile that has been known about and is about to hit the fan? Is this really it?

My main point was that the PIE lot had very cleverly turned things around by saying it was about children's rights not theirs, which is how the libertarians and gay rights people got dragged in. We were still making stuff up as we went along, remember - re for example our right to a self defined sexuality. NCCL daily bread was a lot about censorship and anti-state. Disentangling the contradictions about conflicts of rights was too sophisticated for Harman et al. Expecting bourgeois het couples to engage with the minutiae of feminist politics, is a bit optimistic, as long as they were seen to be doing the 'radical' thing. Even supporting gays was dangerous in those days to the mainstream, and they wanted to locate NCCL outside the mainstream but in it too.

meditrina Fri 21-Feb-14 03:48:33

I am amazed that their role in supporting the reduction (leading to abolition) of age of consent is not better remembered.

I am old enough to remember the days when PIE existed. It did not have widespread support, nor was it an organisation generally considered acceptable. They weren't following general public opinion in supporting this. It was deliberate choice, and one I think relevant to their judgement.

Thatcher did not support sex with children or PIE. And I cannot think of any Tories who supported it publicly either.

This isn't "smear" btw. It's a straightforward explanation of how particular individuals exercised their judgement and the level of support they chose to give the paedophiles in PIE and their campaign for easier access to children. There was no "clever" argumentation by PIE, and nothing that convinced the public. The sophistry only comes now, when people seek to distance themselves from their earlier moral choices in their public actions.

Shouldhavedoneitsooner Fri 21-Feb-14 04:18:23

The Tories might not have supported publically but they were complicit. John whittingdale's half brother Charles Napier, a convicted paedophile, was secretary of the PIE and boasted he could get child pornography sent in diplomatic bags.

Leon Brittan was presented witha dossier of evidence but refused to ban the PIE.

Perhaps because he was involved in his own scandals.
His name comes up repeatedly in the elm guest house enquiry. Google them together to see.

It seems like all political parties have a lot to be ashamed of.

meditrina Fri 21-Feb-14 04:40:30

Not banning PIE (and I agree it would have been better if it had been) is far from campaigning in its support.

PIE withered and closed because of public revulsion. Another factor to remember when considering the stance of its active and campaigning supporters. The argument wasn't complicated. Nor compelling. Nor morally sound. That is why the judgement of age of consent abolitionists will never be rated favourably.

Then as well as now.

meditrina Fri 21-Feb-14 04:48:57

BTW, are actions of siblings of politicians always held as reliable indicators of the stance of the party of that MP? Or indeed are siblings ever responsible for the actions of crimes of the others in their family (just read an interesting bit of Iycke which holds that they are, and would indeed make an interesting though very confused picture of what political parties are about if universally applied).

Charles Napier might have had access to diplomatic bags because of his own employment at the British Council. Nothing to do with any of his family.

FloraFox Fri 21-Feb-14 06:42:07

I think there are important questions to be answered by the people involved and they will come out of this better if they honestly explain what their motivations were. If they seem to be prevaricating, all you can do is think the worst.

There are a couple of important lessons from this disclosure, which has been bubbling under for a long time.

Firstly, I think we can't assume that all liberalisations are a good thing. Most people agree that society is more progressive for sexism, racism and homophobia than 20 years ago but we are clearly less accepting of paedophilia. That's a good thing but "progressive liberalisation" is not a good thing in and of itself.

Secondly, I think this demonstrates that liberalism / libertarianism mostly benefits people who have power. This is framed around civil liberties and rights but really it is a false equality between people with power (adult men) and people with no power (children).

We should strive for equality but we need to be very wary of any politics that are based on assumption that we are all currently equal. There are a few issues where this is currently relevant including focussing on the autonomy of the most vulnerable women in society and their "right" to be in prostitution. It's a deeply regressive and power focused dynamic. Not progressive in any way.

bluedays Fri 21-Feb-14 07:25:45

I'm going to have to choose my words carefully here:

Disclaimer: I don't think that homosexual men are any more likely to be child abusers then heterosexual men. Not at all.

But, having learnt that PIE was an offshoot of the gay liberation front, I can no longer knee-jerk call somebody who makes the connection, 'homophobe'.

To be truthful, I can't blame them for making that connection if this is the stuff that was doing the rounds 40-odd years ago.

A lesson for us all in trying to see where an old person's coming from and not automatically shout, 'bigot'.

Yes, they the connection may be false, but I can't altogether blame them for making the connection, either.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 21-Feb-14 07:25:45

Good post, Flora.

VulvaBeaker Fri 21-Feb-14 08:39:23

@bluedays - and I think there's an element of that to why people don't report things, there is far too much to this that could hit gay rights hard. I doubt it could do much good for it to arise that the government's most recent moral crusade was at the bidding of a bunch of monsters, because some will confuse those few with homosexuals more generally - so it becomes a matter of editorial responsibility.

Further the personal involvement of MPs in child sex abuse seems to have approached commonplace over the last few decades, plenty of vested interests there I suspect.

I also think it's a good example of treating right and wrong as equal, that even here doing things which are actually evil becomes doing something "stupid".

bluedays Fri 21-Feb-14 08:54:30

VulvaBeaker, You've hit the nail on the head. It would be embarrassing for the government. My thoughts are the same as yours.

It's almost as if homosexuality is now seen as an untouchable religion for some, when the truth is that some (please note emphasis) homosexual men are paedophiles-just as some heterosexual men are.

Why are human beings so keen too embrace homosexual men as being ALL good these days? Is it guilt from the mistreatment from the past? Is it that homosexual relationships are carrying the torch for romance now that marriage is failing amongst heterosexuals? It it because when people stop believing in god they'll believe in anything? Is it simply cool for a fuddy-duddy old tory party to be seen as a rainbow-flying flag bearer?

I don't want homosexuality being seen as an evil in itself ever again, but I don't want to be in the position where homosexual men can never be seen as doing no wrong, either. At the moment, I think society is veering towards the latter.

starlady Fri 21-Feb-14 09:07:04

Shouldhave and others who argued that Tories have dirt on them and some have abused children - that would hardly surprise me.

But this is about three people who AREN'T paedophiles (despite what some right wing nutters are implying), but they jumped on a bandwagon to advance their own careers. That's what I am uncomfortable with. This is the same kind of attitude which allowed the Rochdale rapes continue. People who wanted to be seen as liberal and openminded, but were happy to let vulnerable people suffer.

Children's rights FFS. What about the right to develop without being molested?

Onesleeptillwembley Fri 21-Feb-14 09:11:38

This hands been in the public domain for a few years. The only people railing against it that I could see were on the David Icke forum. Scary how it's even now being downplayed it makes me wonder why and by whom.

hackmum Fri 21-Feb-14 09:20:24

I think there's something interesting going on here. I assume the reason the Tories aren't making capital out of this is, as others have pointed out, they have their own skeletons in the cupboard. I also assume this is why massive media attention has been paid to the wrongdoings of the BBC in protecting Savile et al, but very little to the fact that Savile was allowed into children's homes, hospitals, Broadmoor etc - to the extent that he was appointed to a taskforce overseeing Broadmoor. Why has there been no public inquiry into why this was allowed to happen?

So my view is that there's a grand cover-up going on in which neither of the major political parties wants to expose the wrongdoings of the other, because they know that they're not untarnished themselves. It's a shame our fearless press haven't pursued this further but I guess they've been busy attacking the BBC.

An odd piece in the Mail today in which Quentin Letts castigates the BBC for ignoring the Harman/Hewitt revelations and says they'd have been all over them if Tory MPs had been involved - but surely he must know that Tory MPs were involved?

VulvaBeaker Fri 21-Feb-14 10:07:54

Personally, I think anyone who would support, even tacitly, others lobbying for their right to have sex with children to "advance their career" is actually worse in some ways.

I mean that's selling your soul to the devil, there isn't even any perverse compulsion driving you, it's a conscious and cold decision for your personal power.

I cannot see any earthly use for such a human being.

hackmum that's a very interesting post.

When you consider what governments have apologised for retrospectively it's very odd that the Currie / Thatcher decision to give Savile run of Broadmoor hasn't been officially investigated.

After Blair's comment "a Hutton style inquiry" - have we lost faith in inquiries now anyway?

Elderberri Fri 21-Feb-14 10:20:14

Is not Harriet harman a guest blogger on this site?

VulvaBeaker Fri 21-Feb-14 10:25:08

Well an extremely high ranking MP used to visit one of Saville's abuse homes for no reason anyone has been able to explain, then go off and take part in a sailing competition for a few days around the local sea.

At the same time, children from the home used to go missing who are now believed to have been murdered and never found.

The same MP was described as having "certain tastes" by Christine Keeler in one of her books.

On a basis that is less well documented fact so feel free to ignore what I can't prove (but which may prove a coincidence of interest), I am led to believe that he was one of numerous MPs at the time who visited care homes where abuse was ongoing in unofficial, private visits around the UK and Ireland with the kind of frequency some people visit fast food chains.

There are also other questions, like why the justice system is so very lenient towards child abusers so often, why various government agencies are so keen to sweep under the carpet active child rape rings that abuse thousands of children, and how very keen the CPS et al are to publicly prosecute high profile persons outside politics, in cases where no physical crime can be proven and no conviction can be secured given remotely competent legal representation.

nennypops Fri 21-Feb-14 10:31:32

I agree the Conservatives are keeping quiet because of their own skeletons. After all, Thatcher regularly invited Savile to Chequers and insisted on him being given a knighthood against the advice of her civil servants, who must have told her precisely why they were advising against it.

The MP who took children out on his boat to abuse was Tory wasn't he? Another who has been implicated was Lib dem. I think this crosses all parties.

CFSKate Fri 21-Feb-14 10:55:59
CFSKate Fri 21-Feb-14 11:25:36
NigellasDealer Fri 21-Feb-14 12:02:17

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

I didn't think we'd be allowed to name people on this thread but that was who I was thinking of.

NigellasDealer Fri 21-Feb-14 12:13:50

he is dead so i think it is ok

I haven't a clue about the facts if any, but someone said "The only people railing against it that I could see were on the David Icke forum" which might be a clue as to how reliable it is.

David Icke forum + The Daily Mail?

I can't say it's not true since I don't think there are any limits to the depths politicians would stoop to, but this sounds like a smear campaign rather than a news story.

Martorana Fri 21-Feb-14 12:48:01

I was around and politically active at the them the PIE was active. I remember a lot of very anxious conversations around them- we were all tying ourselves into knots to be fair and open minded- I think that we felt that it was better if they were in a position to express their views openly so that people could make their own minds up about them.

VulvaBeaker Fri 21-Feb-14 12:51:53

You know you're part of a moral collapse when someone wants to advocate legally fucking children and you don't whether to punch them in the face and spit on them or not.

Martorana Fri 21-Feb-14 13:19:26

VB- it isn't quite as simple as that. Well, it is now, obviously. But back then you have to remember that the way many- maybe even most-people regarded gay people wasn't far off the way we regard paedophiles now. Many people had fought so hard for gay rights, and had finally started to see society changing. So when the PIE came forward saying that it wanted the right to put it's case. it seemed at the time that it would have been wrong to deny them that right. I remember they made a television programme- it was awful.

starlady Fri 21-Feb-14 13:32:10

Sorry Backonbriefly, but I think your comment is a bit off. The point I was making by starting this thread was to point out that good people are sitting back, and doing and saying nothing, when as the evidence has been presented seems solid (unless of course, it's forged).

The Daily Mail has MANY faults as we all know, but at times, such as in The Stephen Lawrence case, it can act for the good.

It bother me that no-one seems prepared to robustly get the facts, and is apathetic. The subtext being, nice left wing people who have views similar to me can't be wrong. This is exactly the attitude which has let abuse fester.

It may well be smear. But let them explain why it is. This is important. Asking these questions is speaking up for people who were not given a voice thirty years ago.

bluedays Fri 21-Feb-14 13:44:42

Well gay rights is about advocating the right for consenting adults to have sex with one another, paedophillia is about adults having sex with children. Even back then, people made a distinction.

I'm sure a lot of people were homophobic back then but I don't think that gay men would be viewed in the same way as paedophiles even back then. No doubt the former would have been viewed as icky and an excuse for bullies to punch them, but not beyond the pale.

We had John Inman's character in 'Are you being served' (OK he was camp and to be laughed at which is not good); I don't recall anybody thinking paedophillia was the subject of humour on prime time TV.

What I'm trying to say is that those who gave them (paedophiles) the time of day back then are just making excuses.

Sometimes people's minds can be so open their brains fall out.

Martorana Fri 21-Feb-14 13:51:35

"What I'm trying to say is that those who gave them (paedophiles) the time of day back then are just making excuses.

Sometimes people's minds can be so open their brains fall out."

I'm not making excuses. I'm trying to explain. And it wasn't about "giving them the time of day". It was about giving them an opportunity to speak.

I m not saying it was right. I am trying to explain how it happened.

brooncoo Fri 21-Feb-14 13:57:59

I only saw it mentioned in the DM which means I'm very dubious about the claims just by the fact it's the DM. I also hate to jump the gun so I'm waiting to see what actually comes out without it being sensationalist reporting.

Mignonette Fri 21-Feb-14 13:58:51

This transcends party politics. MPs and other powerful people from all political persuasions are implicated.

Using this to campaign against one particular party debases the whole issue.

And I will ask again - when we have seen a parade of 70's has beens from the celebrity world paraded through our courts via Yewtree do they really expect us to believe that NOT ONE single man (for they are mostly men) from the judiciary, politics, health & social care, the gentry and finance is involved?

Yeah right.

brooncoo Fri 21-Feb-14 14:01:06

Practicing homosexuality was illegal once and folk jailed - so it was beyond the pale. Folk are still jailed tortured and executed in other countries.

Martorana Fri 21-Feb-14 14:06:47

Well, I can say categorically that it was entirely possible to have been on the side of the PIE being given a platform without being a paedophile or supporting paedophiles.

I am not, of course saying that many of the PIE fellow travellers were not paedophiles. Just that you could have supported their right to freedom of speech without being one.

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Fri 21-Feb-14 14:10:25

I was a child in the 60s and a teenager in the 70s. I suspect a lot of you are younger than that. Back in the 70s there was a feeling that up to the 60s there were clearly understood rules and laws which had often been oppressive to women and young people. There was immense hypocrisy, as it was openly understood that lots of these rules/laws were broken with impunity by the rich and powerful.

For example, a young unmarried woman from a wealthy family who became pregnant and couldn't marry the father (or where the family were desperate for her not to marry the father) would be pressured into having an abortion. Abortion was illegal, but there would be no risk of prosecution as the family would know which strings to pull to ensure that the authorities turned a blind eye. Poor women and those who carried out their illegal abortions were at far higher risk of prosecution.

In the 60s and early 70s there was massive social change and one consequence of that was a fairly widespread feeling that there were no longer any rules and that everybody would find their own way through. There was a feeling in some quarters that children were an oppressed minority who should be free to do what they liked. For these people, the age of consent was not seen as a protection for young people but as one of the archaic rules that had always been widely broken and therefore ought to be scrapped.

There was also very little grasp that giving one group of people freedom to do whatever they liked might be problematic to other groups. Many men were absolutely delighted that it was so easy to find women for sex outside marriage but there was far less talk about the social pressure on women to comply with men's demands or be written off as frigid. Date rape and was not taken seriously, as we all know. Groping of women was so commonplace as to be completely unremarkable.

It's against the background of the complete confusion of the times that I recall there was some tentative public discussion about whether children had a right to engage in sexual activity. I remember vividly hearing a representative of the PIE on a mainstream BBC radio news programme (Today?) putting this forward as a libertarian stance. That was probably in the early 80s. It wasn't for a few more years that it started to become commonplace to hear news reports about sexual abuse of children. I remember how shocking it was to hear this talked about at first, and how hard to believe for those of us who'd been lucky enough to know nothing about this firsthand growing up. From that point on, the PIE was persona non grata on the news and there was no more talk about children's rights to sexual freedom. It was finally understood that this was actually about giving a free pass to people who were sexually aroused by children and young teenagers, regardless of the damage it might do to them.

I haven't read the Mail report this week, but this is not news. I think I read about it in Private Eye decades ago. No political parties come out of this kind of thing well, because judged by current standards they were all lacking.

Oneglassandpuzzled Fri 21-Feb-14 14:10:56

This transcends party politics.

That is true, but I suppose what sticks in the craw is that the likes of Harman, Hodge, Becket, etc, have been so condescending in a way that only New Labour's finest could, so keen to point out that they know what is best for us.

LurcioLovesFrankie Fri 21-Feb-14 14:15:03

I can see what people are saying about the whole idea of fighting for rights being such a contentious issue at the time (background - I was 13 at the time) that defending people's free speech seemed more important than other considerations... But it's not as if the discourse around rights was a new one. The classic articulation of liberalism arguably dates back to John Stuart Mill, who was careful to articulate a distinction between positive and negative freedoms - basically, liberalism (in most of its incarnations) holds that people should be free to do as they wish provide that their choices do not impinge on those of other people. When it is transformed into a theory of human rights, typically there will be caveats round the situations in which people have rights - thus, a right to life, but not to compulsorily take someone else's kidney for transplant to save the life of someone with kidney disease.

I find it impossible to believe that Harman (studied politics at York) and Hodge (studied economics at the LSE) would have been incapable of a nuanced understanding of rights. Saying "we were all new to this stuff" isn't a defence, even taking into account the climate of the times (when I studied moral philosophy at university in the mid 80s, many of the texts I read were from the 60s and 70s and they had very nuanced and sophisticated discussions of this sort of thing).

Having said that, I think it is clear that PIE cynically stressed the "freedom of speech" angle and managed to obfusticate the issue of children's rights and also of exactly what "speech" was being defended - namely photographic evidence of child abuse. (And it's also worth noting that probably the idea of children having rights was somewhat radical at the time: one of the major blindspots of liberalism is an insistence on a distinction between the public sphere where we all have to reach consensus on what is acceptable and a private sphere where anything between consenting adults is OK - the problem being that children were placed in this private sphere and seen as property of adults - an attitude we still see lingering traces of when people defend corporal punishment, for instance). And it's undoubtedly true that talk of rights often ignores power imbalances (witness the way recent threads on prostitution have posters focussing entirely on men's rights to buy sex, women's "right" to sell - conveniently ignoring that it's more of an economic necessity than the exercise of a human right).

Martorana Fri 21-Feb-14 14:16:13

Thank you, mimsey- you have expressed a lot of things I wanted to say. I think it's hard to realize how different things were then. The idea of people- all sorts of people -having rights was intoxicating.

Martorana Fri 21-Feb-14 14:19:12

I think it was just that idea of a nuanced discussion that made this happen actually. The idea that people who had hideous views could still have a right to be heard. That we were a mature society that didn't need to be protected from the dark side of human nature and which could make up it's own mind....

Mignonette Fri 21-Feb-14 14:26:49


I am a child of the early sixties and recall the Libertarian debate into sexual activity of and with children. I recall my Father saying in disgust 'they see children as old enough to consent to sex with older people but not old enough to marry/vote/become an MP/own a dog licence even.

And who recalls the brooha about this?

crispycronut Fri 21-Feb-14 14:31:57

I cant believe not one of the three has commented publicly.

I hope the mail has forced their hand by publishing the documents to back the story up.

ithaka Fri 21-Feb-14 14:32:33

I remember the PIE television programme - I was a young teenager at the time and I watched it.

It was a very different time -it is unimaginable that there would be mainstream television programme attempting to defend sex with children now. However, the programme presented it as sex with consenting children and part of defending childrens' rights to be sexual beings. Obviously we now know about grooming/power imbalances etc but those issues had not been fully explored back then and it was seen as part of a new libertarianism.

This is not to defend it, but to attempt to explain how it is that people that went on to be politicians could have been part of a broader organisation that included people who advocated a discussion about legalising sex with children. The past is, indeed, another country.

ManifestoMT Fri 21-Feb-14 14:57:59

Has anyone looked at csikates link.

Hodge was in power in islington and apprently slowed and frustrated the social workers. It's horrifying

starlady Fri 21-Feb-14 14:59:07

Mantorna I don't believe Harman, Dromey and Hewitt were paedophiles. I think they were careerists. And that to me makes it worse. And yes Mimsy, I get the context of how this might have happened, I was born in the 70s, so slightly different experience to you, but yes, I accept this. But we do need to hear from the three of the. If we're making C-list TV stars accountable, surely elected MPs should be too. Have an enquiry -- pref not of the Hutton variety

crispycronut Fri 21-Feb-14 15:02:21

manifest i read Eileen Fairweathers (journalist) and Liz davies (social worker) accounts of what went on in Islington when all this with Savile first brokesad

Martorana Fri 21-Feb-14 15:04:08

They might well have been careerists- they are politicians after all. But many of us at the time thought that allowing freedom of speech to anyone, however loathesome, was the right thing to do. Many people still do..........

Shouldhavedoneitsooner Fri 21-Feb-14 15:23:23

I think that people should be held accountable for views they have held. However, the comments that having shared in this movement being WORSE than paedophilia itself is shocking. Yes these three perhaps should explain their choices but their behaviour was not direct abuse of children. They did not cover up or conspire to hide information. To make this about party politics completely misses the point. Yes liberalism might have brought things into the open but right wing mps have been implicated in the abuse too. Saville himself moved in their circles. As long as the public can be divided into political camps suspicious of each other, they won't unite and ask the leaders of all parties why they have covered for so many of the elite regardless of their political leanings. These attacks on individuals and the bbc are a smoke screen in my opinion.

FloraFox Fri 21-Feb-14 15:30:10

Great post Lurcio. Your point about the distinction between public and private sphere is a good one.

starlady Fri 21-Feb-14 16:42:29

Shouldhave didn't mean that paedophiliic acts aren't worse, but what I mean is, if people have those urges you can understand why they would want to justify them. By the same token, there are some pornographers who don't have sexual urges towards children, but happily sell images of children being abused.

Just want to clarify that.

Elderberri Fri 21-Feb-14 17:08:44

It's sick, and there is no justification for it, whatsoever.

They should be locked up.

hackmum Fri 21-Feb-14 17:21:53

Like mimsy and Martorana, I remember the 70s, and remember that the prevailing atmosphere was very different then. The idea that children should be able to express their sexuality was considered reasonable in some progressive circles. The huge wave of public feeling against paedophilia didn't really get going until the 1980s.

Elderberri Fri 21-Feb-14 17:28:19

No not progressive circles....perverted circles.

starlady Fri 21-Feb-14 17:33:25

by the way, thanks for the link ManifestoMT. And reading this piece from almost 20 years ago from Eileen Fairweather gives a greater understanding of the atmosphere about the Hodge/ Islington affair.

Frankly, if she got off scott free, these 3 have got zero to worry about

ManifestoMT Fri 21-Feb-14 17:48:33

There prevailing thoughts in the 70's were not that Paedophilia was progressive as someone who grew up in the 60's and 70's. I found a link for a Mary whitehouse article campaigning about UNICEF and research money was going to child abuse. I can't find it now

I also think it's a type of grooming when people put forward that it was different in the past. It was not. It never was and never been ok to abuse children.

The only difference is that a kiddy fiddler would have been beaten up and the police would have turned a blind eye or probably given him a kicking on the way to the cells.

ManifestoMT Fri 21-Feb-14 17:54:45

They were csfkate's links not mine.

They are really eye opening

ManifestoMT Fri 21-Feb-14 17:59:03

When the children's harrowing stories first appeared, Margaret Hodge, then leader of Islington council, sought refuge in killing the messenger. The London Evening Standard's month-long investigation was clearly sourced by scores of staff, children, police officers and documents. But because the newspaper is considered in right-on N1 to be "right wing", Hodge airily dismissed it as "politically motivated ... a sensationalist bit of gutter journalism". A month later she took up a top City job.

FloraFox Fri 21-Feb-14 18:13:41

ManifestoMT It was not. It never was and never been ok to abuse children.

I agree with this. I grew up in the 70s in a political lefty environment and paedophilia was not okay at all. This may have been fashionable chat among a small but influential section of liberal lefties and men who had been at boarding schools but it was definitely not broadly acceptable.

The sex abuse scandals of the 80s were scandals because no-one could believe the scale of what had been going on, not because there was a sudden change of attitude towards abusing children. I think people may have known of one or two incidents but thought it was their private problem, not that it was so widespread.

bigboobsbertha Fri 21-Feb-14 18:22:27

The bbc won't mention it because of legal issues they reckon hmmm

even the lefty guardian is querying what's going on. Ive seen transcripts where harriet harman is campaigning for the law on incest to be repealed and she was the legal bod at the time. Very unsavoury. You can bet your bottom dollar if it was anyone except labour, bbc would be all over it like a rash

TiggyCBE Fri 21-Feb-14 18:33:14

I ignored it because it was in the Daily Heil. They've spent years exaggerating, misrepresenting, and downright lying that I can't trust anything they say. If it comes from a proper news source, I'll listen.

falaaalaaa Fri 21-Feb-14 18:47:25

FloraFox, you're overlooking that fact that entering local politics was a very successful way of getting free access to the children in local council children's homes. Remember the very very fat Lib Dem? It was a free-for-all.

TiggyCBE I heard about some of this stuff years ago, and NOT in the DM.

At the very least, it deserves proper investigation.

VulvaBeaker Fri 21-Feb-14 19:17:42

While I have some insight into how people without an independent moral compass can lull themselves into such tacitly supporting grave evil and depravity, I have not been convinced with a Jedi-like handwave that it was all sort of alright and intoxicating and stuff.

FloraFox Fri 21-Feb-14 20:03:31

falaaa yes that may be so but I think unless you were involved in the abuse, I don't think it was acceptable. Party politics then were very tribal and I'm not surprised that there would be what the Independent called a "Stalinist" response to what might be perceived as an attack on the left or the labour party. How much has changed? Look at the Rennard situation, that's still very much a Party first attitude.

FloraFox Fri 21-Feb-14 20:07:17

Btw, I don't think this can be brushed off because it's in the Daily Mail. They may hate the Labour party but that doesn't make everything they print about it to be untrue. These allegations have been made for years now and Harriet Harman and the rest have not denied them nor explained them - which I think they should. If people brush this off because it came from the Mail, that's repeating the behaviour in Islington when the allegations were dismissed as a right wind plot.

Devora Fri 21-Feb-14 20:40:00

Another one here who can remember it happening at the time. Pamish and Meditrina's posts are really interesting. It's important to know that in the 70s (for lefties) and the 80s (for Tories) there were lots of skirmishes over libertarianism. The NCCL sat firmly in the libertarian left camp and often drew approbation for it - I seem to remember some brouhaha about them supporting a National Front member against dismissal, or something - just as Liberty is now getting into hot water over legalisation of prostitution.

We were all really feeling our way, emerging from a much more socially repressive society, blinking in the daylight as we debated the limits around personal freedom and responsibility. That does not mean that I think the NCCL stance was ok. I didn't think so at the time, and I was far from being alone - PIE was considered a disgusting organisation, then and now.

I was a young lesbian feminist in the early 80s and I do remember paedophilia as one of the issues that divided (some) gay men and lesbians at the time. I wasn't aware of any lesbian activist who thought paedophilia was ok - we were outraged that anyone would try to excuse sexual abuse. But I did know some gay men who were genuinely torn about the issue, who wondered if paedophilia was another orientation that should not be persecuted - provided the children consented. Some of those gay men are still my friends, and I know they would never ever hold that position now. But there was a particular context for those debates, one that needs to be understood to make sense of this.

I think Harman et al will have changed their position too. I think they will feel ashamed of what happened back then. I think they should say so.

But I must just add, there are some really out of order posts on here that need to be picked up.

VulvaBeaker suggests that "stonewall and many of the gay marriage types" were involved. Stonewall didn't even exist then. And what the heck are 'gay marriage types'? Gay people, perhaps?

As for:

"Disclaimer: I don't think that homosexual men are any more likely to be child abusers then heterosexual men. Not at all.

But, having learnt that PIE was an offshoot of the gay liberation front, I can no longer knee-jerk call somebody who makes the connection, 'homophobe'."


"Why are human beings so keen too embrace homosexual men as being ALL good these days?"


"I don't want homosexuality being seen as an evil in itself ever again, but I don't want to be in the position where homosexual men can never be seen as doing no wrong, either. At the moment, I think society is veering towards the latter."

is so offensive I don't know where to start. Funnily enough, I've never asked to be treated as a saint. Being treated as a person, to be judged on my actions rather than who I sleep with, is good enough, and it's something I and my gay allies had to fight for during some really tough times. I've never actually noticed this phenomena of society believing gay people can do no wrong, but I'll be sure to enjoy it when i encounter it. But how would you respond to me, VulvaBeaker and Bluedays, if I told you that Jimmy Saville was making me a bit more sympathetic to those who say heterosexual men are evil bastards?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 21-Feb-14 20:48:35

Good post, Devora.

I think it's amnesty not Liberty who are changing their stance on prostitution.

I'm pretty sure the party politics is not the reason the BBC is staying out of it.

Devora Fri 21-Feb-14 20:53:15

Oh yes, of course! Thanks for the correction, DoS.

I'm sorry if I ranted. It just feels like we worked so hard for a more tolerant, accepting world; it's really beginning to feel like that's paid off. And then suddenly you get these messages not to get too comfortable, that the tolerance is conditional and can be withdrawn at any time.

If people feel the only choice is to think a certain minority group is all wonderful, or all terrible, and that it's ok to proscribe them a collective morality, then they need to take a long hard look at themselves.

FloraFox Fri 21-Feb-14 20:59:22

I agree Devora. It is homophobic to make a connection between homosexuality and paedophilia which is not the same as saying all gay men are good. Maybe there was a view among allies that no gay man should be criticised because homosexuals were an oppressed group. I wouldn't be surprised, it's still going on with some allies of oppressed groups. I don't think there has ever been a time that society at large has come close to this view though.

VulvaBeaker Fri 21-Feb-14 21:05:45

devora I know stonewall did not exist back then - its history is rooted in this firmly not by vague association or suggestion, I suggest you read the available material on this (which I as others had thought was crap when it was wheeled out in the past).

I don't know whether the other bit about heterosexual males was aimed at me, but if so, I was suggesting that hiding this stuff may be seen as socially responsible by editors to prevent such perceptions, not drawing such conclusions myself.

VulvaBeaker Fri 21-Feb-14 21:08:55

Quick note, paedophiles are not an oppressed group, they are people who rape children or wish to. Let's not start confusing evildoers with victims as has apparently been done in the past.

Martorana Fri 21-Feb-14 21:20:27

"Quick note, paedophiles are not an oppressed group, they are people who rape children or wish to. Let's not start confusing evildoers with victims as has apparently been done in the past."

This is a difficult and complex issue. Is is possible that we could discuss it without simplistic accusations?

FloraFox Fri 21-Feb-14 21:30:45

Did anyone say paedophiles were an oppressed group?

Mignonette Fri 21-Feb-14 21:41:37

Defending a murderer/rapist/child abuser through the legal system doesn't make you an advocate or supporter of it.

falaaalaaa Fri 21-Feb-14 21:49:00

AFAIK the raison d'etre of PIE was that paedophiles were an oppressed group, hence their demand for solidarity from other oppressed groups.

starlady Fri 21-Feb-14 21:53:06

This is why this issue is so tough to discuss. Devora I can see why you're upset. I don't think this issue is about gay people.

It's about people being open-eyed that anyone* can be an abuser. I think that's what VulvaBeaker was trying to express, probably not quite as well as she could have done.

* OK, probably a bit more likely men than women.

Devora Fri 21-Feb-14 22:03:39

Of course this issue is not about gay people, but some posters were making it so. Don't think I saw anybody describing paedophiles as an oppressed group, though.

falaaalaaa Fri 21-Feb-14 22:08:26

No, the "oppressed group" thing was a historic claim by PIE, and referred to on here. That claim caused a huge amount of confusion. It's what it was all about back then. No-one is saying it on MN.

Devora Fri 21-Feb-14 22:12:41

Exactly, falaaa. It's important for people (especially younger people, who weren't there)to understand the context for this, which included the historic (and wrong, even if well-intentioned) debate about whether paedophilia could be considered an alternative and legitimate sexual orientation.

But I don't think we need be told not to start confusing evildoers with victims. I see no risk of that, on this thread or elsewhere.

Mintyy Fri 21-Feb-14 22:21:33

I know very little about it, but understood that Harman et als involvement was to do with getting homosexual age of consent lowered to be the same as heterosexual age of consent (16) because prior to that gay people having sex below the age of 21 were considered criminal. Or maybe I am just imagining that.

falaaalaaa Sat 22-Feb-14 16:05:13
falaaalaaa Sat 22-Feb-14 16:08:36

And Eileen Fairweather here:

I apologise in advance for any "comments" following the articles in these links - I haven't read the comments, but I expect some are appalling. Nonetheless I think the articles themselves are worth reading.

Devora Sat 22-Feb-14 18:20:10

Both good pieces. I've already said I think they should apologise, and I think the Islington scandal is well due some revival - those responsible got away with it far too lightly.

It's an interesting question, though, about how much we should hold people responsible for stupid things they did when young, and for how long. John Bercow seems to have shaken the dust of the Monday Club off his heels, and its frequent calls for Nelson Mandela to be hung. So far as I remember, pretty much every Tory MP in power at the time supported Clause 28. And what about the Daily Mail's deep comfort with fascism?

I'm not tit for tatting here, just genuinely interested.

GeorginaWorsley Sat 22-Feb-14 21:00:02

I find the silence over this bewildering and wonder why tbh.
I agree with posters saying if this was in Osborne's or Cameron's past the BBC would be all over it.
Very strange.
And these people,at least 2 of them,are still MPs and always pretty vocal on every issue.

crispycronut Sat 22-Feb-14 21:22:59

Does anyone know what happened to the list with the names of the 1000 PIE members?

Has it been archived away or lost like many of the other relevant documents detailing the horrific abuse by those in power like the dossier Leon Brittan managed to lose hmm

starlady Sat 22-Feb-14 22:10:17

devora I guess it's because the people who were made vulnerable by Tories' narrow minded views were adults, not children. Most of us are hard wired to find sexual violence against children particularly repulsive.

Oneglassandpuzzled Sun 23-Feb-14 09:11:17

pretty much every Tory MP in power at the time supported Clause 28... Not exactly the same thing as supporting paedophilia, is it!

Martorana Sun 23-Feb-14 09:36:09

"pretty much every Tory MP in power at the time supported Clause 28... Not exactly the same thing as supporting paedophilia, is it!"


However, being part of a group that believed that the PIE should have a right to express it's views, however repellent, publicly, is not the same as supporting paedophilia either.

bluedays Sun 23-Feb-14 10:41:04


I'm sorry if you found my post offensive, however, I was careful to mention homosexual men not lesbians.

I don't honestly think lesbian women would form an organisation like PIE to campaign for it to be legal for sexual relations with very young girls.

Otherwise, I stand by what I said.

bluedays Sun 23-Feb-14 10:43:44

Women- regardless of their sexuality are much much less likely to abuse children then men regardless of their (that's men's) sexuality.

bluedays Sun 23-Feb-14 10:55:01

Third post in a row-sorry- Devora,

I'll try to explain myself better: if you were a person in the 1970s who was very ignorant about homosexual men (women weren't supposed to be sexual creatures- be they gay or straight, remember) and knew very little about them, and there was a group attached to them that was very dodgy, you could be forgiven for associating gay men with dodgy behaviour.

Yes, we know better now, but I'm only trying to see the point of view of people at the time.

hackmum Sun 23-Feb-14 12:49:08

Barbara Ellen has a piece in The Observer today.

I think the issue probably is going to carry on bubbling under for a while. I suspect that the BBC, having had its fingers burnt over Lord McAlpine, isn't going to touch a story like this until they have absolutely watertight evidence.

Devora Sun 23-Feb-14 16:36:21

I did not in any way say paedophilia is morally equivalent to Clause 28, or to anything else. i was merely trying to move the conversation on to a more general space. I could, though, have raised Nazi camp guards, or those who enthusiastically supported Hitler while never directly hurting anyone - indeed, there were enthusiastic supporters of Hitler who were horrified by Auschwitz. Is that morally equivalent enough for you?

i'm not going to reiterate any more on this thread that I am not an apologist for paedophilia. Unlike most of you young 'uns, I was there, an activist against sexual violence, and this issue upset me hugely at the time. I don't need lectures now about how most right-thinking people detest paedophilia.

Starlady, you're absolutely wrong about Clause 28: it DID make children vulnerable.

Bluedays - the fact that you were talking about gay men rather than lesbians does not make it less homophobic or more ok. And you were not just talking in the past tense. I don't know why you can't see that stereotyping is precisely part of the problem here: a group of paedophiles sought shelter under the wing of the GLF. SOME gay men were confused about whether that was ok. A group of heterosexual left activists made common cause with PIE because they were too ignorant to challenge the argument that sexual liberation should be for all sexual minorities. This was everything to do with the way that identity politics played out across the wider political landscape in the 1970s and 80s.

Here's an analogy you'll hate: Rochdale, and the other grooming scandals involving Asian men. Do we think it's ok to be a little more racist in the wake of Rochdale? Of course we don't. But we equally have to come down hard on those who shirked their responsibilities to deal with it, because of fear of being called racist.

The fact that Dromey, Hewitt and Harman are heterosexual - as were Margaret Hodge and Wendy Thomson in Islington - should surely make clear that it is idiotic to start musing about, "Is it time we stopped thinking gay men are all luvverly and started agreeing that maybe there is, indeed, Something of the Night about them?" FGS, if you think you get to choose whether a group numbering hundreds of thousands of people are basically ok or not, then are you approaching this all wrong.

Devora Sun 23-Feb-14 16:40:53

I think Barbara Ellen's piece is spot on. Reading it reminded me that my mum gave me something called 'The Little Red Schoolbook', which was basically a Maoist tract for children's liberation. I took it into school. The headteacher sent it home in a brown paper envelope with a stiff note.

It basically called on schoolchildren to overthrow adults as the class enemy. It certainly called for the abolition of the age of consent.

My mum worked for years in children's charities. She was certainly no apologist for paedophilia, then or now. But this is the kind of nonsense that was going on at the time. Doesn't excuse it, but it is really important to understand that context.

sallymanda Sun 23-Feb-14 16:56:14


Homosexuality amongst men (sorry, I do not include homosexuality amongst women here because I believe that men -regardless of sexuality- have the upper hand in most spheres of life above women regardless of women's sexuality) was not discussed widely and brushed under the carpet.

So people who were largely ignorant about it when hearing that PIE was conflated with gay liberation could be forgiven that the two were somehow connected.

They were wrong, of course, and they would be wrong to think it given the knowledge of homosexuality that is available today.

I can acknowledge they were wrong without agreeing with them.

We don't rail against people for thinking that the world was flat, do we? We just think they went with what people told them to be true at the time.

All I'm saying is that some understanding is required

starlady Sun 23-Feb-14 17:57:39

devora I don't think I said anything that defended section 28. Perhaps my post sounded sarcastic. It actually wasn't meant to be.

Of course you could argue that section 28 made children vulnerable. Yes, because young gay people were left vulnerable without access to info and role models, but also because it made people who frankly should have known better collude with paedophiles under the misapprehension that they were an 'oppressed minority'.

Did I hear it right on radio 4 news that Harman has said this is a right wing smear campaign?

Martorana Mon 24-Feb-14 19:27:12

She said it was a smear campaign orchestrated by the Daily Mail. Which it is.

starlady Mon 24-Feb-14 19:49:53 she's spoken out at last, that's good. Now we can look at the evidence, and make up our minds. But Mantorna just because the Daily Mail has published something and we don't like its general stance of policies, doesn't mean it should automatically be ignored. Especially if they offer documented evidence.

That's what happened Hodge/ Islington affair, and we know what happened there.

FloraFox Mon 24-Feb-14 20:46:54

Does anyone know if there is a source of her point by point rebuttal of the claims? I read this from the Guardian:

I'd like to see her detailed rebuttals. For example, it says:

On the allegation that she was seeking to water down a proposed ban on child pornography, Harman said the document she signed makes it clear that the NCCL "deplores the exploitation of children whether in the form of use in commercial pornography or as victims of sexual assaults".

I'm wary of this language. What about non-commercial pornography that does not involve sexual assault?

It simply argued for amendments to stop parents being criminalised for taking pictures of their children on the beach or in the bath, the use of pictures in sex education being criminalised and the use of the word "obscene" instead of "indecent" as that could be considered too broad, including page 3 of the Sun.

The timing here isn't quite right. In the 70s everyone took photos of their kids in the bath and on the beach. It wasn't until the 80s that became questionable or unacceptable. Is she really saying her defence is that she was just trying to stop page 3 from being criminalised?

Patricia Hewitt hasn't responded yet, I don't think.

It's not enough to dismiss these claims as smears, even if it does come from the Mail.

Florafox I think Harriet's answers are very evasive, and as you say, don't seem to match the history I remember.

I don't recall campaigns against photos in the 70s. I do recall them in the 80s, Jan Leeming being an early example of a celeb being caught out regarding kids-in-baths photos.

I have heard about some of these allegations before, and not from the Daily Mail. I was also aware at a very early stage that the PIE were something nasty. Certainly by the early 80s they were being vilified.

Catkinsthecatinthehat Mon 24-Feb-14 21:28:31

Harman's full statement is on her website here

Catkinsthecatinthehat Mon 24-Feb-14 21:30:03

The full text is as follows

^In recent days I have been the subject of a politically-motivated smear campaign by the Daily Mail.

They have accused me of being an apologist for child sex abuse, of supporting a vile paedophile organisation, of having a relaxed attitude to paedophilia and of watering down child pornography laws. These are horrific allegations and I strongly deny them all of them.

This is not the first time the Daily Mail has made this horrible and untrue allegation. And, this is not the first time the Daily Mail has attacked me. The editor and proprietor of the Daily Mail are entitled to their political views and they are of course entitled to oppose what I stand for but they are not entitled to use their newspaper to smear me with innuendo because they disagree with me politically and hate my values.

I sincerely hope people won't believe these smears - I suspect even the Daily Mail doesn't believe them to be true. But given the seriousness and the aggression with which the Daily Mail are pursuing me, I feel that I need to put the facts in the public domain.

1. Allegation that I supported the lowering of the age of consent to 10

This is not true. I supported the equalisation of the age of consent (as set out in NCCL document “priorities and strategy for the executive committee June 1981") by making the age of consent the same for homosexual as well as for heterosexual sex.

2. Allegation that I opposed the law on incest

This is not true. The document they refer to was written by NCCL in 1976 before I started to work there.

3. Allegation that I was seeking to water down a proposed ban on child pornography.

This is not true. I supported the Protection of Children Bill 1978. At the start of the document it makes clear that “The NCCL deplores the exploitation of children whether in the form of use in commercial pornography or as victims of sexual assaults"

The submission argued for some amendments to guard against unintended consequences including:

- Parents being criminalised for taking pictures of their children on the beach or in the bath

- The use of pictures in sex education being criminalised

- We also proposed that the definition of indecent was too wide and instead proposed "obscene" as indecent was very broadly defined and could include Page 3 of the Sun.

The Mail have tried to make me guilty by way guilt by association.

NCCL was an organisation which anyone could apply to join and indeed any organisation could apply to be "an affiliate" on payment of a fee. When I was at NCCL there were around 6,000 members and nearly 1,000 affiliated organisations of which PIE was one.

Members and affiliates decided the organisation's policy at the AGM from year to year.

I was aware that because NCCL opposed censorship and supported gay rights, paedophiles had sought to exploit that and use NCCL as a vehicle to make their arguments. But by the time I came to work for NCCL this vile organisation had already been vigorously challenged within the organisation. Jack Dromey was instrumental in that challenge when he took over the chair of NCCL in 1976

The reason I decided to go to work for NCCL was because I actively supported the work they had done and in particular the work of their women's rights committee on the Equal Pay Act, on the introduction of the Sex Discrimination Act and for greater protection of victims of domestic violence and against race discrimination.

Since being elected to the House of Commons in 1982 and during my times in Ministerial Office I have always championed the rights of those subjected to sexual abuse - especially women and children.

I hope The Daily Mail will stop this campaign of smear and innuendo against me. I have done nothing wrong and am guilty of none of their grotesque allegations.^

DonnaDishwater Mon 24-Feb-14 21:32:35

She really is a piece of shit. She doesn't give a toss about anything but her career and family wealth.

crispycronut Mon 24-Feb-14 21:39:11

I wonder if she's going to sue the DM hmm

It should be very easy for her legal team to pick apart every last piece of old documentation the DM published if she's blameless and it was before her time.

DonnaDishwater Mon 24-Feb-14 21:41:13

If I was the DM I'd state the facts on the front page then invite her to sue if she thinks anything they are saying is untrie.

Martorana Mon 24-Feb-14 21:58:21

"If I was the DM I'd state the facts on the front page then invite her to sue if she thinks anything they are saying is untrie."

The facts, hmm? I wonder which side you're on............

DonnaDishwater Mon 24-Feb-14 22:05:17

Not Harriet Harmans side, that's for sure.

Martorana Mon 24-Feb-14 22:10:14

What has convinced you?

DonnaDishwater Mon 24-Feb-14 22:11:50

I just don't like the woman, never have. She's a fake. She doesn't give a shit about any of the people she is paid to represent. Look at how she felt the need to wear a bullet proof vest while walking round her own constituency!

Martorana Mon 24-Feb-14 22:15:35

Ah. Well thought out, measured political opinion. Thought so.

Catkinsthecatinthehat Mon 24-Feb-14 22:16:58

She really is a piece of shit.

Or she's being smeared as a paedophile-lite for political reasons in the run-up to an election?

I've been a member of NCCL/Liberty for many years. I can quite believe that paedophile interest groups tried to ride on the gay rights slipstream in the late 70s as there have been identical attempts in recent years by Islamist groups to do the same with honourable human rights and civil liberties campaigns by both Liberty and Amnesty. It's always a risk when you are operating on the unpopular political fringe, and bodies need to be aware of this. A lot of the Mail accusations look like guilt-by-association innuendos.

DonnaDishwater Mon 24-Feb-14 22:21:44

The story has been known about for years, I've no doubt whatsoever that the mail is printing it now due to the election coming up. But that doesn't make it untrue. Many on the left have aligned themselves with some pretty dodgy people over the years under the reasoning that the enemies enemy is my friend.

Martorana Mon 24-Feb-14 22:23:19

Tell me what you think Harriet Harman has done wrong, Donna.

FloraFox Mon 24-Feb-14 22:35:54

The Mail article states that Harriet Harman wrote a letter in response to the 1978 Act:

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.

I think that needs more explanation than that she was trying to protect parents taking photos of their children in the bath or on the beach. There were other organisations who were promoting the idea that there could be some images that were not "harmful", including drawn images. Someone obviously has the letter and it would be helpful if it could be printed in full, rather than having to rely on the DM or HH's version of it.

CrotchMaven Mon 24-Feb-14 22:40:14

The DM, and the right in general, have always had it in for HH because she's firmly on the side of women. I never quite understand why other women don't get that. Is it the equalism nonsense gawn mad?

Her rebuttal seems fair enough.

CrotchMaven Mon 24-Feb-14 22:42:47

That said, the Islington Children's Home stuff needs blowing open to the fresh air. Hodge needs to be seriously called to account on that one.

Martorana Mon 24-Feb-14 22:47:20

" Many on the left have aligned themselves with some pretty dodgy people over the years under the reasoning that the enemies enemy is my friend."

Hmmm. Pinochet, Ghadaffi, Saddam Hussein, white Afrikaaners..........not sure the a Left had a monopoly in dodgy friends.......

Blu Mon 24-Feb-14 22:59:41

Who has read Joe Orton's diaries?

I can remember debates - fierce ones - in the early 80s - with some very intelligent, kind, liberal, political men talking about children's 'right' to express their sexuality. It was always men. And women arguing against them. I am very sure that some of those men would not argue the same thing now, and would admit they had been wrong.

The context in those days was that sex was a Good Thing. That 'repression' was always a Bad Thing. Rape within marriage was not recognised as such, legally or morally. I can remember a stall at Pride in Brockwell Park openly selling racks of photographs of naked boys. People complained (me amongst them) and the stall was not there the next day. There were cries of censorship and oppression.

I do remember debates about the PIE and the NCCL - but it was one of those challenges - as people have mentioned. A deliberate attempt to 'play' the liberal left.

J Orton's diaries (from the 1960s) are stuffed with references to sex with young teen boys, appraisals of his colleagues young sons as potential sexual prey, accounts of 'pederasts' of their acquaintance having sex with very young boys in Tangier, with no particular horror.

Bands were notorious for having sex with young 'groupies'. The current wave of celebs going through the courts must be scaring hundreds f bands silly. Or maybe not. They probably all think it was 'normal' for then and that the girls 'threw themselves' at them.

I daresay some people got carried away with libertarian arguments.
People need to be honest where they were involved in this stuff, explain, recant and apologise where appropriate.

Devora Mon 24-Feb-14 23:07:35

Exactly, Blu.

Martorana Mon 24-Feb-14 23:12:26

I find it quite shocking to realise that my life experience is "history" for other people, and to see it being analysed in the way that people analyse history....

Naive of me to be shocked, obviously- but still.....

CrotchMaven Mon 24-Feb-14 23:15:41

Libertarianism is the bit around the back where the far left and and the far right meet each other coming the other way, isn't it? The self-indulgent's parlour. Where they both think they'll come out on top in their own vision of righteousness.

Interesting times. Particularly as it resulted in a wholesale disengagement with mainstream politics by the young. And they don't even have the kind of grass roots stuff as explained on these threads to turn to anymore. Libertarianism begat individualism. How beautiful.

Blu Mon 24-Feb-14 23:32:02

Really interesting post CrotchMaven.

I think there is a lot in what Mantorana said earlier in the thread: that people were tying themselves in knots having to believe in the right of people to make a case for themselves and to speak about what they believed / wanted, without actually supporting their beliefs, and / or while finding them repellent. It's possible that NCCL members held this position rather than actually supporting PIE.

Free speech was all the rage and easy when it was defended for the right for the publication of Lady Chatterley, homosexuals, civil liberties campaigners, Oz Magazine etc. Nowadays we have 'hate speech' to make it easier for us to support free speech for all, beyond our old friends and encompassing the least liberal, most pernicious would-be moral dictators.

claig Mon 24-Feb-14 23:34:41

'I COMPLETELY AGREE!! Why is this not front page news??'

It has been front page news for several days' running in the Mail and is tomorrow again.

I think the reason there has been such a silence is because it involves Labour people.

The Mail put it on the front page and there was silence. I think the Mail knew there would be silence, so it put it on the front page again, and still there was silence. So it put it on the front page again and eventually other papers were forced to discuss it and Harriett Harman spoke about it to Newsnight.

Martorana Mon 24-Feb-14 23:39:28

"It's possible that NCCL members held this position rather than actually supporting PIE."

Yes- that's how it was. Like giving the BNP a platform at the last election.

Blu Mon 24-Feb-14 23:39:50

Hey Claig! What kept you? This thread is 4 days old....
Ah well, you're here now. smile

DonnaDishwater Mon 24-Feb-14 23:39:54

Did anyone see Harman's interview on Newsnight tonight?

claig Mon 24-Feb-14 23:40:58

Another important question to ask is why is it only the Daily Mail that did it, since it is an old story that all the other journalists and newspapers have known about for years?

claig Mon 24-Feb-14 23:45:11

'Hey Claig! What kept you? This thread is 4 days old....'

I have been looking on "In the News" section, but there is nothing there. Silence.

So I just saw it now on "Am I Being Unreasonable".
I am surprised that it is even on here. I expected silence.

But the Mail knew there would be silence so it kept printing it on the front page until the silence would become deafening.

Haven't read whole thread yet. Will read it. But glad to see that lots of posters are disturbed by this silence.

CrotchMaven Mon 24-Feb-14 23:46:22

I do actually think that HH et al would have thought very hard about this stuff, even if they weren't aware of the detail of the PIE stuff at the time. But the free speech stuff was not backed on a whim. Actually, I have read some PIE stuff (it's out there on the net) and, whilst with a 2014 eye, it is abhorrent, it is actually quite well argued, if truth be told. These paedophiles really belive what they are saying, you know? This isn't (always) a baser instinct thing practiced by half-wits who can't string a sentence together.

But just as I support abortion on demand to term because it is a logical (and uncomfortable) extension of my belief in bodily autonomy for women, I can imagine (whilst not necessarily agreeing with) a belief in free speech resulting in reluctant acceptance of PIE.

And, yes, there was a back of the free love thing that did result in expanding sexual boundaries and autonomy. And, yes, largely espoused by men. Is that for another thread?

Martorana Mon 24-Feb-14 23:51:10

It is worth bearing in mind that the "silence" is because the other papers know it's bullshit.....

claig Mon 24-Feb-14 23:54:11

Paedophiles are sick. What they believe is sick and no one should give them a figleaf of respectability.

Harman said

"When I was at NCCL there were around 6,000 members and nearly 1,000 affiliated organisations of which PIE was one."

Allowing affiliation in any sense is giving them a figleaf of respectability in my opinion.

Can you imagine if an organisation like that was affiliated to a political party or to a trade union? What would the public think?

claig Mon 24-Feb-14 23:56:53

'It is worth bearing in mind that the "silence" is because the other papers know it's bullshit.....'

Why silence? Why not state that it is bullshit immediately? Why let it run on the front page of one of the highest selling newspapers in the country to be seen by millions of people, with silence about it everywhere else, and not state immediately that it is bullshit?

CrotchMaven Mon 24-Feb-14 23:58:49

I agree, Claig. Like UKIP and their attitude towards immigrants and those with disabilities, perhaps?

When I said ^^, I didn't mean I agreed. I meant I could see how the situation came about. f you believe in free speech, then it should be free speech for all, yes? Funny how it all ended up.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 00:03:19

This organisation was affiliated in some way to the NCCL. That has nothing to do with free speech.

'Like UKIP and their attitude towards immigrants and those with disabilities, perhaps?'

But if the Mail publishes anything like that, there is no silence
Other newspapers will say that the Mail is publishing bullshit.

longfingernails Tue 25-Feb-14 00:05:24

Well done Laura Kuennsbeurg.

She must have asked Harman about 5 times just to say "with the benefit of hindsight, it was wrong".

Harriet Harman couldn't say bring herself to condemn the association. 5 times she was asked, 5 times she refused. Absolutely disgusting.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 00:08:49

Yes, I was very impressed with Laura Kuensberg. It was a very good interview. Impressed with the BBC and Newsnight.

caruthers Tue 25-Feb-14 00:09:03

The public need to know just how much of a stance she allegedly took on turning a blind eye to pedophiles.

DonnaDishwater Tue 25-Feb-14 00:11:40

It won't matter that much to her. She's in just about the safest Labour seat imaginable. But it will reflect poorly on Labour as a whole. They have too many skeletons in their closet and I imagine a lot more will come out between now and next May.

Caitlin17 Tue 25-Feb-14 01:07:35

I was 16 in 1975 and would agree with those who are posting about the weirdly awful sexual politics of the time.

The swinging 60s didn't really swing for the majority. The sexual revolution happened in the 70s. A lot of babies got thrown out with the bathwater; yes there may have been openess and the pill but there were also expectations of being sexually available, being up for it, groping was normal. Restraints on behaviour which applied in earlier decades had gone-good riddance to many of them I suppose but some good things too were lost.

I had heard of the PIE in the 70s.I remember them being mentioned in the press. I'm a fairly worldly , fairly sophisticated 50 plus now. In the 70s I was not part of any liberal,metripolitan elite but I definitely recall them being credible enough to have filtered through to the conciousness of a teenager in rural Scotland. I suspect probably via a mixed bag of things like Cosmopolitan,NME,Private Eye ,The Observer and New Statesman.

The argument I recall hearing was there could be consenting relationships between intelligent children and sensitive, intelligent adults. It's a warped combination of Lolita and "Socratic" love as the PIE saw it. It's an argument that still occasionally gets trotted out today.

ManifestoMT Tue 25-Feb-14 08:06:13

Why in earth didn't Harriet condemn pie in those interview.
It's bizarre.

What on earth was she thinking, protecting ???

fromparistoberlin Tue 25-Feb-14 08:21:11


and I dont care if it was a long time ago either

but, I almost cant beleive its true IFSWIM???

hackmum Tue 25-Feb-14 09:06:59

blu - yes, I was thinking of Joe Orton's diaries as I was reading this thread. Today I think he may well have been regarded as a paedophile though I doubt if he saw himself that way. (How old were the boys? Early teens, iirc.)

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Tue 25-Feb-14 09:15:40

John Peel has been condemned in some quarters because his first wife was 15 when they got married and he was 26. This was perfectly legal in Texas where he was at the time. How far do we go when reviewing the events of the past by present day standards? [genuine question]

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 09:24:50

'How far do we go when reviewing the events of the past by present day standards?'

Standards of the majority of society have always been the same. It is only a tiny percentage of the population who went against these standards, and the public today have a right to ask questions about why some people were allowed to go against these standards.

This is what John Peel said once and my impression of it is that he thought it was funny.

"Peel, awarded the OBE in 1998, is perhaps best remembered for his Saturday morning programme Home Truths on Radio 4 in which he talked about family life to Middle England.

But as a young man, he worked in Texas as a local radio station DJ and self-appointed ‘Beatles expert’.

When he was older, he recalled some of the ‘perks’ of the job in several newspaper interviews in the Seventies and Eighties.

Girls, some as young as 13, he said, used to queue up outside his studio to offer him sexual favours. ‘Well, of course, I didn’t ask for ID,’ he said.

‘All they wanted me to do was to abuse them sexually which, of course I was only too happy to do.

‘It was the glamour of the job . . . but frustratingly, American girls of that period — as they do now, actually — had this strange notion of virginity as a tangible thing which you surrendered to your husband on your wedding night.

‘So they would do anything but s* you. They’d give you a b* * before they’d s* you.’

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 09:35:38

And the problem is that people like John Peel were accorded almost saintly status by many of the great and the good and he was given an OBE.

How on earth could PIE be affiliated to the NCCL?

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 09:38:16

Did any politicians ask any questions about how PIE could be affiliated to the NCCL?

Why has there been such silence about this? Why aren't senior politicians asking questions about it? Why is it left to a newspaper to place it on the front page every day for 3 or 4 days running and even then why was there such silence?

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Tue 25-Feb-14 09:38:37

Claig, I find that disturbing, yes. He must have been well up in his 20s at the time he's describing there. What gives me pause, though, is that I don't think his attitude was all that unusual at the time.

sallymanda Tue 25-Feb-14 09:42:16

claig, Yes fashion definitely plays a part. Dave Lee Travis is under fire for the comparably 'lesser' offence- that's NOT to say it is ever acceptable, just not as bad- for groping for what I believe to be adult women.

Yet the 'cool' who have had sexual activity with 13-year-old girls get away with it.

Why no lambasting of John Peel or, for that matter, Bill Wyman. A man who had sex with a girl of 13? Because they are 'cool' people amongst those that set the agenda today while Travis is not.

DonnaDishwater Tue 25-Feb-14 09:42:48

At the end of the day, politicians (at least those from the big 3 parties) are in it together, and don't want to do anything that will bring politics in general into disrepute. Most of the conflict is just for show, at the end of the day they drink in the same bars, eat at the same restaurants, and send their kids to the same schools.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 09:45:31

'What gives me pause, though, is that I don't think his attitude was all that unusual at the time.'

But that is even more disturbing, because ordinary parents would have been disgusted by Peel even then and the parents of the young girls in Texas woud have been disgusted by Peel, and yet he could brazenly almost brag about it and he still had an OBE.

How could a climate have been allowed to develop by the great and the good where a paedophile supporting organisation like PIE could have been affiliated to the NCCL for a number of years ?

And why did no one ask any questions about how this could be and why has there been such silence and lack of inquiry about it and why is it only the Daily Mail that is capable of bringing it to the attention of the public so that eventually the silence can no longer be maintained?

Having finally caught up on newsnight and thinking HH and Ed Miliband are missing the mood on this story (because of the anti Mail vibe after the Ralph Miliband story possibly) - I was also amazed to hear that 1000 PIE members were affiliated to NCCL - did I hear that correctly? NCCL had 6000 members and 1000 of which were PIE supporters.

So a sizeable amount of fees paid to NCCl came from this group. HH put that figure at possibly just £10 a year - I can't imagine £10,000 a year was a small sum for a fringe political lobby group like NCCL in the 1970s. My parents bought their house for not much more than that in 1977.

So it might absolutely be the case that toleration of PIE was more about free speech than about defending what PIE stood for - but I wonder if it's also about the money? I'll scratch your back politics.

Any apology for this affiliation now looks like a Daily Mail scalp but this story was covered before by the Telegraph and could have and should have been dealt with then. Her comments post Savile make toleration of PIE seem even more bizarre.

And I'm most definitely no Tory / they have nothing to be smug about today!

I know Patricia Hewitt isn't in office but I wonder how she feels about HH saying this happened before her time at NCCL- because it happened when PH was there.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 09:48:24

Very good points sallymanda.

Who decides that these people are cool ?
Who determines our moral standards?
Why did no one speak up about this more forcefully? Why was it allowed to continue?

Why was their silence about it in high quarters and amongst the great and the good?

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 09:50:41

'I was also amazed to hear that 1000 PIE members were affiliated to NCCL'

No I think that is wrong.

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Tue 25-Feb-14 09:53:44

I don't think there has been silence, Claig. As I said upthread, and several other people have said it too, this NCCL/PIE connection has been mentioned in the media many times over the last 30-40 years. I've known about it for a long time and I'm pretty sure I first read about it in Private Eye back in the 80s or 90s.

Teenagers have always been sexually active, haven't they? When they get the chance, that is. Parents back in the 50s and early 60s were keen to restrict their teenagers' sexual activity because of the fear of pregnancy and reducing a girl's marriage prospects, to put it crudely. (Things were less clear cut later on.) However, what's changed in living memory is that it's finally been recognised that no matter how much a 13-year-old pushes for sexual contact, an adult has a responsibility to walk away, because there is a power imbalance which means it can't be a healthy relationship.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 09:54:05

Kevin Maguire was on the Sky Press Review programme last night and he mentioned that apparently Private Eye have been reporting on this for a while. He also said "if this was about Conservative cabinet ministers, would the Daily Mail report it? I think they would"

sallymanda Tue 25-Feb-14 09:54:55

Men, claig, not just men, though, the powerful men of the day.

Think of today's (usually white) middle-aged men, who are their idols? John Peel, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles. All men have idols and, for this generation, these are those idols. And idols can do no wrong, can they?

I'm even going to separate it into labour, conservative or liberal, all these men have the same idols.

Tony Blair and his guitar says it all.

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Tue 25-Feb-14 09:55:36

Completely wrong, Sauce, I think. I believe Harman said that 1000 organisations were affiliated to the NCCL and one of them was PIE. The 6000 members is a completely separate point. Those were individuals. The affiliates were organisations.

sallymanda Tue 25-Feb-14 09:55:36

I'm not even, that should read.

There were 6000 members and 1000 affiliates - some of those were PIE paying a fee to be affiliate

Apologies - my post above isn't accurate.

X post -

blush sorry everyone - terrible research on my part.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 09:57:18

'I don't think there has been silence'

You are right. Everyone knew about it, but no one discussed it.
People hoped it would go away.
The Mail brought it back up and put it on the front page.
People hoped the Mail would drop it and it would go away.
The Mail put it on the frontpage again.
Still silence.

Finally, silence could no longer be maintained and now it is discussed at the top of news bulletins on TV channels.

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Tue 25-Feb-14 09:57:21

Kudos for admitting that, though! smile

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 10:00:00

sallymanda, you are right that these idols are common idols for everyone in the country. They are portrayed as such and some are even given OBEs.

nauticant Tue 25-Feb-14 10:00:18

But that is even more disturbing, because ordinary parents would have been disgusted by Peel even then and the parents of the young girls in Texas woud have been disgusted by Peel

Most of the disgust would have been turned on the 13+ year old sexually abused girls.

Haha! There was no debate! I totally misheard!

<returns to lurking and leaves subject to those with brain cross still firing>


Brain cross???

Brain cells!!!

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Tue 25-Feb-14 10:01:47

I agree, sadly, nauticant. We saw that very recently with the Jeremy Forrest case, didn't we?

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 10:12:00

And there are now inquiries to see if PIE may have received public funds

Why only now? Someone must have known that it may have been receiving public funds

"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.

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."

Let's hope there is no more silence.

Mignonette Tue 25-Feb-14 10:13:54

What I have discovered is that this information was being saved for the election campaign-hard- and has been released early because of the damage caused to Cameron's acting prime ministership by the incompetent flood management.

The Daily Fail isn't that outraged. They've been sitting on this for ages.

Martorana Tue 25-Feb-14 10:17:34

I know I keep saying this- but it is incredibly important to distinguish between supporting PIE and allowing them a platform to speak. At the time, the whole idea of freedom to speak openly on sexual matters was incredibly new. And the idea of "I do not support what you say but I defend to the death your right to say it" was key. And the age of consent was a massively important topic for discussion and legislation. So it was perfectly possible, to be utterly opposed to paedophilia and to believe that PIE had a right to a platform. Just as it possible now to be utterly opposed to racism and believe that the BNP has a right to a platform.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 10:18:23

Given that everybody knew about this but no one mentioned it, then that is possible.

But is it the fact that

"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."

this is going on that has led to this story?

Mignonette Tue 25-Feb-14 10:20:46

Excellent point Martorana

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 10:22:13

Martorana, I think that allowing PIE to be affiliated0 to the NCCL goes far further than what you are saying?

Did the NCCL allow far right racist organisations to be affiliated to it?
I doubt it, but I don't know.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 10:25:04

I am sure that the NCCL would draw the line at some organisations being affiliated to them. I can't see left wing lawyers etc joining an organisation that allowed far right groups to be affiliated

And yet the NCCL did not draw the line at a paedophile supporting group. Why?

Viviennemary Tue 25-Feb-14 10:25:39

No boat rocking will be tolerated. And if this is investigated other things might come to light. That's my take on probablilities.

nauticant Tue 25-Feb-14 10:26:21

I wonder what was actually required to gain affiliaition to the NCCL 30-40 years ago. Was it a rubber stamp job or did it involve careful investigation into the aims and nature of an organisation seeking affiliation?

tryingreallytrying Tue 25-Feb-14 10:27:13

I agree with Martorama.

Harriet Harman et al weren't going around being paedophiles as the Mail implies, they were supporting the idea of open discussion about sexual mores. We might now know that actually paedophilia is one bit of the free love 60s message that didn't wash with ordinary people longer term, but I think in the 70s people were still questioning all boundaries and redefining them.

On this one boundary, we're now far LESS liberal then then. But I suspect that then sex with children seemed as open to rational debate as sex before marriage, cohabitation, gay sex, pornography etc.

Supporting open debate is not the same thing as supporting child sex.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 10:32:57

'No boat rocking will be tolerated.'

I think you are right unfortunately, Viviennemary.
But the Daily Mail was prepared to rock the boat for 3 or 4 days. It depends how much rocking of the boat the Mail will do as to whether it will all go away again.

Martorana Tue 25-Feb-14 10:47:17

Is anyone prepared to say openly and clearly what they think Harriet Harman did?

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 10:53:37
sallymanda Tue 25-Feb-14 10:57:18

I actually don't believe for one second that sex with children was open to rational debate in the way that sex before marriage, cohabitation, gay sex or pornography was.

The significant difference, of course, is that the above were at least between consenting adults.

Why are people making out that people in the 1970s were idiots or something? Idiots that didn't know the difference between the actions of consenting adults and children?

It's like saying that just because people then were 'meat and two veg'* kind of people they might be open to persuasion to eating a bowl of spag bol or mussels (spag bol=cohabitation).

What the PIE debate was doing was asking people to consider eating maggots.

I honestly think most people would have dismissed it out of hand without any second thought.

And I don't believe that a left-wing organisation would allow far-right groups to have their say, either. They're not the 'let everybody have their say' egalatarians people are making them out to be.

You criticise the Harriet Harman's of this world about stuff like gay marriage and you'll be soon shut down and called a 'bigot' . Sex with kids, though? Oh yeah, that sort of person will hear you out on that one. hmm

KatnipEvergreen Tue 25-Feb-14 11:04:33

I am very meh about the whole thing, TBH, and agree with tryingreallytrying's post.

It's the Daily Mail who are the paedophile enablers, and the other tabloid press, who regularly objectify girls who are only just 16. A quick search of their website and you can find reporting of Mandy Smith and Bill Wyman, who all the tabloids branded a 'Wild Child' at 13. Also pictures of her in a bikini as a 16 year old.

fromparistoberlin Tue 25-Feb-14 11:08:03

but it is incredibly important to distinguish between supporting PIE and allowing them a platform to speak

sorry but has the world gone fucking crazy? why on earth should these people have a voice or a platform??? Put another way even considering giving them a platform is reprehensible

Blu Tue 25-Feb-14 11:09:28

I can see a situation in which the PIE became affiliates because the NCCL was about a platform to discuss liberties and rights - and that affiliation did not imply any condining of the practices they wished to discuss.

But I don't know, I haven't seen the T&C of the NCCL at the time, nor a deed of affiliation.

I don't know why HH and co don't just say 'it was a discussion process of the time, the PIE were an abhorrent organisation and the interest of theier memebrs was abhorrent. Times were differnt, we have similiar issues now in defending the right to discuss practices and allegiances which many find abhorent and an affront to liberty. If there was any time that PIE discussions led to harm taking place or a support of their activities then we must apologise, and sincerely so'. Or something.

In those days it was routine to beat children with canes in schools. (legally, unlike paediphilia which of course was not legal) Michael Wishaw was in the paper talking about his regret for having beaten children with a cane and saying he now thinks it wrong, counter productive and ineffective.

People should engage the benefit of hindsight and be open "what the hell were we thinking?".

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Tue 25-Feb-14 11:11:44

Sallymanda, of course there was no debate about whether it was right to have sex with babies, toddlers and other pre-pubescent children. Where the water gets muddied in these debates is what to do about young teenagers, who are sexually mature and often sexually active but below the age of consent.

We've all known teenagers who can't be told about anything - they know they are right and adults are old fogeys who just want to stop them having fun. How far do we as a society stand back and let them make their own mistakes and when do we intervene and say 'Too bad, the law says no'? We're a lot clearer about that now than we were in the 70s, not least because from the 80s onwards sexual abuse of children was taken a lot more seriously by the police, social services and courts and got a great deal of publicity.

The problem back in the 70s was that a lot of libertarians had moved a long way towards believing that children and especially adolescents should do what they liked. Look at what was going on in schools - at its most extreme in William Tyndale primary school in Islington - where many teachers saw themselves as facilitators, not instructors, and children were left to work on their own projects without much actual teaching going on. We've drawn back from that a lot too in the last 30 years because the results were disastrous.

KatnipEvergreen Tue 25-Feb-14 11:12:58

What are the allegations against Harman? That she worked for an organisation who had a paedophile group as one of hundreds of affiliated groups?

How much do YOU look into what your employer does before you join them? How much would you have been able to find out in pre-internet days? I'm a solicitor and certainly don't know the names and dealings of all the clients of the firm I work for.

I'm no Harman fan, though I agree with the equality agenda. I just think this is tenuous, but all it takes is the press to bandy about the word 'paedophile' to create a huge shit-storm (largely in media circles in any event) and the DM hope that some shit will stick.

Mignonette Tue 25-Feb-14 11:16:35

Exactly Katnip

The Mail and its employees are engaged in the promulgation of misogyny and racism every day. They invite the male gaze and evaluation of young girls in an occult, less than overt manner staying just within the parameters of legality but not moral decency.

To pontificate on the rights or wrongs of what others do whilst promoting a paedophiliac gaze on young girls such as Mandy Smith is abhorrent.

I'd be fucking ashamed if my child worked there.

Mignonette Tue 25-Feb-14 11:16:51

As in adult child.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 11:19:21

Blu, the question is why did they join and remain in the NCCL when it was affiliated to PIE?

Read the Mail's replies to see what the PIE campaigned and lobbied for. How could any organisation allow such a group to be affiliated to it?

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 11:21:13

'I'm a solicitor and certainly don't know the names and dealings of all the clients of the firm I work for.'

They have not said that they didn't know that PIE was affiliated to the NCCL as far as I understand it.

KatnipEvergreen Tue 25-Feb-14 11:22:13

I wish someone would turn this on its head a publish a compilation of the worst examples of the DM's voyeuristic and misogynistic stories about girls and young women they have written over the years. Harman should get together with Mandy Smith and Charlotte Church, for starters.

KatnipEvergreen Tue 25-Feb-14 11:24:39

They have not said that they didn't know that PIE was affiliated to the NCCL as far as I understand it

AFAIC, unless Harman or Dromey did work to directly and knowingly promote the aims of the PIE then there is no case to answer.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 11:26:07

KatnipEvergreen , don't you understand that "the worst examples of the DM's voyeuristic and misogynistic stories about girls and young women they have written over the years" are nowhere near in the same league as what PIE openly lobbied for and yet this group was affiliated the NCCL?

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 11:28:41

Imagine if a political party was affiiated to an organisation like PIE. What do you think would happen? Would people want to represent that party?

KatnipEvergreen Tue 25-Feb-14 11:31:55

I think promoting a culture of misogyny for 40+ years is on a par with paedophila actually. It certainly helped create a culture where those men in Rochdale and other places thought they could get away with it because the girls were even seen by the authorities as "making a lifestyle choice".

WhamBamThankYouMam Tue 25-Feb-14 11:32:27

HH has made a statement;

KatnipEvergreen Tue 25-Feb-14 11:34:30

Political parties are affiliated to all manner of disreputable people, claig. Anyone who gives them a stack of cash can buy influence and a position in the House of Lords.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 11:37:07

'Political parties are affiliated to all manner of disreputable people'

Yes that is a good point, but I don't know of any who would be affiliated or connected in any sense to a paedophile campaigning group. They all draw the line at that.

Mignonette Tue 25-Feb-14 11:41:01

I fear that what some politicians draw the line at publicly and what they draw the line at privately are separated by a large hypocritical gap.

Interesting that not one Politician or senior member of the Judiciary, Law, Health& social care and Education has been prosecuted whereas a parade of has been celebrities have.

Amazing that.

specialsubject Tue 25-Feb-14 11:41:23

I ignored this until it came up on the news last night. Read her statement and you can see that it is all indeed a disgusting smear, the Mail don't like successful female politicians, especially not Labour ones.

the NCCL were idealistic and let anyone be their affiliates - HH said that, they didn't check, anyone who paid could be affiliated. PIE exploited this naivety. The NCCL noticed eventually, shed the student ideals and got real.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 11:41:49

Agree Mignonette

KatnipEvergreen Tue 25-Feb-14 11:42:25

If the DM care so much about paedophila, why didn't they report the affiliation of the NCCL sometime between 1978 and 2014? Because this is the run up to an election, that's why. It's going to be an extremely foul campaign.

KatnipEvergreen Tue 25-Feb-14 11:46:20

Interesting that not one Politician or senior member of the Judiciary, Law, Health & social care and Education has been prosecuted whereas a parade of has been celebrities have

Exactly. At some point there will be a major donor to a political party who is prosecuted, and politicians will have known about and covered up their activities. Only a matter of time.

nauticant Tue 25-Feb-14 11:46:26

Especially with the Leveson business still in the air.

nauticant Tue 25-Feb-14 11:47:08

My comment was responding to the prediction of the foul campaign.

Martorana Tue 25-Feb-14 11:49:34

If the DM cared so much about paedophilia, why didn't it do something about the well established rumours about Jimmy Saville that had been around for many years before his eventual disgrace?

Martorana Tue 25-Feb-14 11:51:27

Claig- please would you explain what you think "affiliated to the NCCL" means?

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 11:55:34

I don't know what the official definition of affiliated means. That is why I am reading the Daily Mail to find out what it means.

nauticant Tue 25-Feb-14 11:56:52

ha ha ha ha ha

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 11:58:08

Daily Poitics on BBC 2 now. They will be discussing this. I hope they have someone from the Daily Mail on because there seems to be no one else who even questions it all.

KissesBreakingWave Tue 25-Feb-14 11:58:39

You may all find this petition of some use in the whole child-protection scheme of things.

I knew the Mail was given to publishing COPINE Level 1 indecent images, I'd not been aware they were doing the salacious commentary on the kids - in one example, EIGHT YEARS OLD - as well.

FrenchJunebug Tue 25-Feb-14 12:01:56

If the Daily Mail worries so much about paedophilia why does it keep printing pictures of 14 year old girls and younger and commenting on their physique?!

winkywinkola Tue 25-Feb-14 12:02:25

Was there really such disgust for paedophilia in the '70's and '80's?

I remember being shocked about the Mandy Smith and Bill Wyman story in the 1980's. And yet nobody else seemed to bat an eyelid. They were all over the papers.

Martorana Tue 25-Feb-14 12:02:33

So if you don't know what it means, why are you suggesting that it means "supporting"?

KatnipEvergreen Tue 25-Feb-14 12:08:00

Well done Owen Jones. He's exactly the right person to take on the DM.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 12:09:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 12:10:47

Julie Bindel on Daily Politics now. Excellent. She is not mincing her words and she is speaking sense.

FudgefaceMcZ Tue 25-Feb-14 12:15:41

I don't think that it's no one being bothered, I think it's people seeing that it's really a random smear thing dreamed up by the Mail to be dickheads- it's pretty clear that Harman at least had no idea about this having happened and is blameless, and probably that the civil liberties group also didn't know what the organisation even was. I don't know what it was either, which no one seems to be explaining- if it was about providing counselling and treatment for paedophiles then I don't see the problem, or if it was for preventing harassment of people who were accused of paedophilia but it was unproven. It's a bt stupid to say paedophiles shouldn't have rights- everyone has rights, murderers, rapists etc still have the basic human right accorded to all humans, they can only have rights curtailed in accordance with the law and for protection of others (i.e. being prevented from taking jobs involving contact with children, or kept in prison if found to be a risk, etc).

I am actually just listening to something lowbrow on the radio about it and the mail are bitching that they wanted to lower the age of consent to 14. The same mail who printed pictures of Emma Watson etc with dodgy captions about their age and appearance. If making a legal argument for lowering the age of consent is a symptom of paedophilia, we'd be banning anyone who'd ever been to Holland, Spain etc from politics, as the ages of consent there are lower than in the UK.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 12:15:54

'I remember being shocked about the Mandy Smith and Bill Wyman story in the 1980's.'

I was a child then and all of us were shocked. Our parents and neighbours.

But the great and the good were not shocked. That is what created the climate where PIE could be affiliated to any organisation at all.

CFSKate Tue 25-Feb-14 12:16:05

This seems consistent with this, putting paedophiles in positions of power and then blackmailing them to do what you want.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 12:17:56

' it's pretty clear that Harman at least had no idea about this having happened'

'I was aware that because NCCL opposed censorship and supported gay rights, paedophiles had sought to exploit that and use NCCL as a vehicle to make their arguments.

But by the time I came to work for NCCL this vile organisation had already been vigorously challenged within the organisation'

Mignonette Tue 25-Feb-14 12:19:04

Yes and high profile people who claim to be unfairly accused of such heinous behaviour will turn out to have beennot so innocent after all.

caruthers Tue 25-Feb-14 12:37:28

"But she faces fresh criticism from Opposition MPs and campaign groups after The Daily Telegraph obtained documents showing that she called on ministers to make sexually explicit photographs or films of children legal unless there was evidence that the subject had been harmed."

Maybe she did have a view on this?

winkywinkola Tue 25-Feb-14 12:53:43

Oh god. It couldn't be worse then could it if that Telegraph article is accurate.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Tue 25-Feb-14 13:09:10

Not really. I'd expect a trained lawyer to be able to notice that the government was about to make it (technically) illegal to take photos of your own kids in the bath.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Tue 25-Feb-14 13:22:55

claig, you seem to be using the phrases, "the NCCL were affiliated to the PIE", and "the PIE were affiliated to the NCCL" interchangeably. They mean very different things.

Slippery thing, language, isn't it. hmm

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 13:24:47

I mean that PIE was affiliated to the NCCL, not the other way around.

nauticant Tue 25-Feb-14 13:28:21

That Telegraph piece seems to want readers to be left with the impression that HH was behind this:

In NCCL’s official response to the Government’s plans to reform sex laws, dubbed a “Lolita’s Charter”, it suggested reducing the age of consent and argued that “childhood sexual experiences, willingly engaged in, with an adult result in no identifiable damage”. It claimed that children can suffer more from having to retell their experiences in court or the press.

without stating that she was involved with that response.

Looking at that piece, HH's involvement seems to be along the lines of the post by BoulevardOfBrokenSleep.

nauticant Tue 25-Feb-14 13:35:25

Having had a look on the Internet (not using a work computer!), the identifiable damage response seems to date from two years before HH joined NCCL. That Telegraph piece is well slippery.

Caitlin17 Tue 25-Feb-14 13:40:57

The 70s really was quite horrible you know.The Mandy Smith/Bill Wyman affair was public knowledge but no one seemed to be bothered.

The stuff about John Peel was known by anyone, like me, who read any of the cool musical press.

There is a line in a Who song from that era , "5.15" which was played on Radio 1 about "girls of 15 sexually knowing"

Google the lyrics of Led Zeppelin's Sick Again from their 1975 album Physical Graffiti about the underage teenage groupies in LA. Hell,google pictures of the Sunset Strip groupie scene of that era.

No one saw these girls as victims-they were no better than they should be.

We are far less tolerant of certain sexual behaviour now than in the 70s.

I bet if you were to examine a list of NCCL affiliates you'd find any number of barking organisations.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 13:43:36

Allowing a group such as PIE to be affiliated to a respected organisation such as NCCL gives them the propaganda value of pretending to be in some way to be respectable or legitimate. They were totally illegitimate and should not have been allowed to be affiliated.

Shami Chakrabarti said "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 70s."

I don't think the NCCL and any of its senior members supported the PIE, but they made a great mistake in allowing it to be affiliated.

I would think the same thing if the EDL were allowed to affiliate to any respectable political party.

nauticant Tue 25-Feb-14 13:46:36

In the 70s, rather than Childline we had admonitions from parents to avoid the strange bloke down the road who was "a bit funny around little boys/girls". We also had the warnings from school friends telling us which teachers you needed to be careful around.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 13:51:55

'I bet if you were to examine a list of NCCL affiliates you'd find any number of barking organisations.'

This is the problem. It is about judgement. Why allow "barking organisations" to be affiliated if you want to be taken seriously?

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Tue 25-Feb-14 13:55:12

Yes, I also spotted that the phrasing of the Telegraph article was a bit awkward, nauticant.

It manages to imply the words in paragaph 8 ('Lolita's Charter') are HH's, but without actually stating it. The unusual arrangement of that section makes me think it probably pre-dates or post-dates HH's involvement with NCCL.

I could be wrong, but it's a style of writing you often see in the Mail when they are trying to cover up the fact their article has more holes in it than a chocolate fireguard.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Tue 25-Feb-14 13:56:35

Oops, sorry, you already found out it pre-dates her blush

KarenBrockman Tue 25-Feb-14 14:08:46

Wow 100% backing of HH going after the DM.

nauticant Tue 25-Feb-14 14:18:22

It seems to Boulevard but I'm now seeing it crop up all over the Internet that the "Lolita’s Charter" was HH's work.

For a hamfisted smear, this is being rather effective. But it is a high risk strategy by the Daily Mail; the outcome could be a view that the DM promotes the sexualisation of children.

Mignonette Tue 25-Feb-14 15:05:48

Of course the Daily Fail promotes the sexualisation of underage human beings.

Putting a 'shock horror' headline on a photo inviting sexual evaluation of a teenager doesn't make it any the less disgusting.

ckimberley Tue 25-Feb-14 15:18:07

why the daily mail is evil

ckimberley Tue 25-Feb-14 15:34:42

CorusKate Tue 25-Feb-14 16:10:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

starlady Tue 25-Feb-14 16:17:10

What I would like to happen now: Harriet (and the rest of them) to give either

a) A complete transparent explanation, explaining what she was aware of / wasn't aware of, and if needs be, say I'm sorry we were naive etc, talk about the political climate at the time etc, whatever ( I thought her TV interview was extremely evasive. A lawyer on Sky News has just said the same).


b) Sue the arses off the Mail.

End of story. Then we could put this to bed and be done with it.

Yes, the Mail is dodgy and woman-hating, but the question we need answering is how much Harriet, Jack and Pat knew, and were aware of PIE.

I still maintain that being overly tribal and loyal just because someone shares the same politics and we don't want to be horrible, is a big mistake.

This is the error made in the Islington/ Margaret Hodge case.

Labour party are foolish in thinking this will go away. Unless it's dealt with decisively, it will keep popping up.

Lazyjaney Tue 25-Feb-14 16:33:30

She was extremely unconvincing on TV and now she's gone on the bluster, something is rotten behind all this.

fromparistoberlin Tue 25-Feb-14 16:36:43

what starlady said

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Tue 25-Feb-14 16:36:56

Starlady, we're talking about things that happened nearly 40 years ago. Harriet Harman and Jack Dromey won't have access to any records from that time - why should they? It's more than 30 years since they left those jobs. Frankly, I'd be surprised if Liberty (current name of NCCL) has that kind of detailed archive available. How can they give a complete account of who said what to whom and why? I don't think HH has made a good job of responding to this story but let's not conflate the Islington case with the NCCL/PIE case. They are very different.

starlady Tue 25-Feb-14 16:51:27

You may have a point there Mimsy, but as I understand, the Daily Mail built this story using the NCCL/ Liberty archives. If they have kept those documents, they should have other documents which will potentially support HH.

You are right they are very different stories - except for the fact the Islington/ Hodge story was purposefully ignored by people on the left because it was printed by the Evening Standard.

This is why I started this thread. I am against kneejerk responses either way.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 17:02:09

"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.’

Is this a statement made by the NCCL at the time?

thecatfromjapan Tue 25-Feb-14 17:08:48

Blu - I think we must be a similar age. I have similar memories, especially your comment about the gender divide on these issues.
I was associated with a leftie organisation that PIE approached - and, yes, many of the men argued in favour of allowing the association, while all of the women said no,
It's experiences such as that that have given me a fairly jaded view about accusations of censorship.
I'm pissed off with the lack of historical context in this story. It is a nasty attack on HHS and the NCCL.
Context is all. I think the NCCL made a wrong cll but politics is a developing thing and I think an important part of the story is the rise of feminism and how it forced changes in the discourse of the left. Especially in the deepening of an understanding of sexuality , power and abuse.
PIE would not be welcome in Liberty now - and I think that has a lot to do with feminism.

nauticant Tue 25-Feb-14 17:13:46

Is this a statement made by the NCCL at the time?

It may well be, but it seems it was made years before HH joined the NCCL.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 17:33:46

Yes, that has nothing to do with HH.

catsrus Tue 25-Feb-14 17:36:28

I am old enough to remember this at the time - and yes, feminists challenged the notion that personal sexual freedom should be considered some sacred right. Our current understanding of abuse, power and patriarchy simply was not commonly accepted in the 70's. Events that happened then can only be understood in that light.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 17:43:10

Anyone listening to PM on Radio 4?

I have been waiting for coverage on this story and haven't heard it unless I missed it.

nauticant Tue 25-Feb-14 17:48:04

The lack of coverage is a conspiracy.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 17:48:20

Ah, now the BBC are finally covering this story at 5.47 (47 minutes after the news programme started).

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 17:50:31

This is in today's Daily Mail

"The BBC was accused yesterday of keeping the growing paedophilia scandal from the airwaves in order to protect the Labour Party.

Until yesterday afternoon, the corporation had refused to report that three Labour figures had leading positions in a human rights group that backed the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange.

The story has been on the Mail’s front page three times but the BBC cut all reference to it from its press reviews yesterday."

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 17:51:04

BBC new report finished at 5.50 (about 3 minutes in total).

nauticant Tue 25-Feb-14 17:52:12

The shortness of the coverage is a conspiracy.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 17:55:00

'The shortness of the coverage is a conspiracy.'

You may be right, I don't know.

But I think it shows how important they think it is. Sky News has been giving it lots of airtime. I don't watch BBC News 24. Have they been giving it a lot of coverage?

Feenie Tue 25-Feb-14 17:56:16

It was covered on Radio 5 this morning.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 18:00:09

Thanks, Feenie, I would expect that because Radio 5 live is less highbrow than Radio 4.

I only listen to Radio 4 and watch Newsnight for BBC news, otherwise I watch Sky News and Channel 4 News

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 18:03:59

When I say Radio 5 is less highbrow, i mean it appeals to a wider audience and therefore discusses what people are talking about.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 18:19:55

Just watched BBC 6 o'clock news to see what they say.

Hats off to the BBC, it was a very good report. It showed protestors scuffling and protesting against PIE in the 1970s, which shows that all this stuff about the 1970s being different to now among the general public is rubbish.

It also mentioned that in 1976, the NCCL campaigned for the age of consent to be lowered to 14.

crispycronut Tue 25-Feb-14 18:29:45

The silly woman hasnt done herself any favours with the interview just shown on BBC.

At least they've shown how upset normal people were by the Paedophile information Exchange at the time so we dont have to listen to History being re written on how liberal everyone was back in the 70's and it was perfectly acceptable to have groups like this being given a platform under the banner of libertarianism hmm

somewherewest Tue 25-Feb-14 19:13:04

I'm generally a fully paid-up Daily Mail hater, but if this story surfaced in thee left-wing press and concerned prominent Tories, would some of the people on this thread still be so interested in 'context'? The current leadership of Liberty have at least been very, very clear in expressing their horror and disgust - not something I've heard yet from Harman.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 19:41:08

Channel 4 News gave it very little coverage at all. They are left-liberal leaning too so maybe it shouldn't have surprised me, but hats off to the BBC they did better than Channel 4 and Laura Kuensberg was excellent on Newsnight last night when she interviewed Harman.

Lazyjaney Tue 25-Feb-14 20:01:34

"we're talking about things that happened nearly 40 years ago"

Hasn't stopped a bunch of other witch hunts recently, on probably shakier ground.

"but if this story surfaced in thee left-wing press and concerned prominent Tories, would some of the people on this thread still be so interested in 'context'?"

Oh of course they would grin

Viviennemary Tue 25-Feb-14 20:15:31

Imagine if it was deputy leader of UKIP. They'd all be tripping over themselves rushing to stick the knife in.

claig Tue 25-Feb-14 20:54:46

Exactly, Viviennemary, they'd be queueing up and there would have been no silence for 3 whole days while the Mail published it on its front page everyday.

DonnaDishwater Tue 25-Feb-14 20:57:46

You would think that this would mean the end of Harriet Harman as a public figure. In any "traditional" Labour seat she would be a massive liability. Sadly her seat is not a traditional Labour seat.

FloraFox Wed 26-Feb-14 02:59:43

I don't think this issue was predominantly a left wing thing, quite the opposite. There was general acceptance among establishment figures that consensual homosexual behaviour as well as sexual abuse was common in boarding schools:

I wouldn't be surprised if that is part of the reason for silence from all fronts.

Mignonette Wed 26-Feb-14 08:35:48

Has anybody mentioned the arrest of the newsreader Julia Somerville in 1995 after her partner took innocent photos of the children taken in the bath to be developed at the local Boots?

As Zoe Williams says today in the Guardian-

The document Harman signed that apparently incriminates her, calling for images of naked children to be proven harmful before they were criminal? Judge that against the fact that a woman breastfeeding a toddler, if she took a picture and sent it to be developed at Boots, might be visited by the police (this happened to someone I know)

Mignonette Wed 26-Feb-14 08:37:14
hackmum Wed 26-Feb-14 09:30:29

Mignonette - thanks for that. I had been desperately trying to remember the name of the newsreader but couldn't bring it to mind. That is presumably exactly the kind of case Harman was trying to prevent.

Of course the Mail would be the first to scream and shout at the idea that innocent parents could be arrested for taking innocent pictures of their naked children.

tryingreallytrying Wed 26-Feb-14 09:32:05


"I actually don't believe for one second that sex with children was open to rational debate in the way that sex before marriage, cohabitation, gay sex or pornography was.

The significant difference, of course, is that the above were at least between consenting adults.

Why are people making out that people in the 1970s were idiots or something? Idiots that didn't know the difference between the actions of consenting adults and children?"


Then I take it you have never read Lolita. I take it it is widely banned and excoriated and one cannot get hold of a copy anywhere. I take it that sex with under-age groupies never happened in the 70s (or later) or if it did those who took part were AT THE TIME regarded as child abusers rather than lucky? (eg John Peel never existed and was locked up not envied or idolised?)

Actually, the reality is that the definition of "child" was far less clear cut than it is now - many (most?) in the 70s would have assumed that a 14 or 15 year old who willingly engaged in sex with older men was old enough to make her own decisions on the matter, rather than a victim. (This is why we have had so many historic child sex scandals coming to light recently - precisely because police and social services were happy to regard it as not a crime because the girls were seen as "wanting it" and basically old enough for it not to be an issue. It is only very, very recently - within the last few years - that attitudes have changed, hence the spate of recent prosecutions going back a long time.)

It is also geographically determined - there are still now many parts of the world where sex and marriage with children is legal - however distasteful we find it. And it is not helpful to castigate everyone in say, Spain, where the age of consent is 13, as "idiots". Acc to Wiki, "The age of consent is 13 in Spain. It is 14 in Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Montenegro, Portugal, San Marino and Serbia. It is 15 in Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, France, Greece, Iceland, Monaco, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden." Are they all "idiots" too?

I personally believe that we have it right in the UK now - in viewing sex below 16 as illegal and those under that age as being unable to give consent.

BUT I am also aware that views on this have changed relatively recently and it is historically incorrect to ascribe them to the 70s.

Mignonette Wed 26-Feb-14 09:32:42

I remember the press about that vividly because I had just had my last child and something which appeared to defy credulity was suddenly worrying real.

tryingreallytrying Wed 26-Feb-14 09:36:28

That is not to say those attitudes were fine, by the way. But it is not helpful in any way to suggest that we should lock up - or smear - anyone who considered or considers lowering the age of consent, or was prepared to offer free speech to those considering it, for example - or we'd be locking up most of Europe while we were at it.

Or maybe you regard that as reasonable?

ithaka Wed 26-Feb-14 09:40:03

Following in from Tryings post, can I just point out that Lolita was 12 in Nabokov's novel. Western culture has turned her into a 14 year old temptress, via Kubrik, but in the book, revered in the literary canon, she is 12. Slight digression, but it is a real bug bear of mine.

Anyway, it is plainly rampant nonsense to claim Harman supports or condones peadophilia, she has spent much of her political career campaigning for women & children's rights. This is so blatantly a Daily Mail smear campaign 'Ed Miliband's father hated Britain' 'Harriet Harman likes peadophiles'. Does anyone really, truly believe that?

tryingreallytrying Wed 26-Feb-14 09:40:55

I can see no evidence that Harman herself had any interest whatsoever in lowering the age of consent or having sex with children. It is a clear attempt to smear her by association.

Yet the Mail continues to publish endless salacious shots of under-age children - often next to the articles reporting on the latest child sex scandal (also usually reported salciously, IMO).

I know who I think has dodgy attitudes about child sex and it's not Harman.

tryingreallytrying Wed 26-Feb-14 09:42:30

ithaka - thanks.

Well, even more so. Yet we can all read it - it's not banned and in fact is part of the literary canon.

Catkinsthecatinthehat Wed 26-Feb-14 09:52:48

I posted this in the other Harman thread that's running but the Mail keep insinuating that she signed a NCCL submission calling for child porn to be legalised if it didn't harm the child. A damming accusation.

Rather than provide a text version of the document - which would be easily googleable - the Mail have a picture of the text, Having read it, I'm not surprised.

Harman's submission argues that the draft legislation on child porn is so loose as to be pointless, and also risk absurd prosecutions (of sex education material for example, or even non-sexual offensive material), and actually suggests alternative language to tighten it up to ensure prosecutions are successful and properly brought. It notes that the last time Parliament tried to define 'indecency' it failed, and therefore suggests a definition.

Having read the contentious quote about harm, in the context of the 4-page letter it clearly reads as 'use our amendment in the Bill and this will guarantee that prosecutions will be restricted to cases where a child is harmed" ie in child porn cases, not health or education material.

The actual facts don't match the Mail insinuation that Harman supports child porn in certain circumstances

But don't take my word for it. If you want to read it for yourself, Harman's submission is in the pictures in this article

DonnaDishwater Wed 26-Feb-14 09:58:15

So naked pictures of a child where the child is not harmed would be none prosecutable? That doesn't seem right to me. It would make prosecution of child porn almost impossible.

Catkinsthecatinthehat Wed 26-Feb-14 10:10:31

So naked pictures of a child where the child is not harmed would be none prosecutable?

Well, yes. I've got a pregnancy and baby manual with tons of pictures of naked children in it. Some of the instruction material and pictures of how to change a newborn's nappy (esp. how to ensure a girl is properly cleaned) is quite explicit. But it's not child porn. The point of the NCCL submission was that the law as proposed would have criminalised health and education material like that, and needed to be tighened to only cover child porn.

Mignonette Wed 26-Feb-14 10:16:25

None of us can legislate against a person attracted to children who uses a Mothercare catalogue as masturbatory material -that is the sad truth of it.

nauticant Wed 26-Feb-14 10:28:23

Surely the point here is the intention. The DM is keen to paint HH is being supportive of a paedophile organisation. She was arguing for a definition of child porn but was suggesting a definition that wasn't watertight. These things are vastly different.

Martorana Wed 26-Feb-14 10:39:22

"She was arguing for a definition of child porn but was suggesting a definition that wasn't watertight"

But did mean that you wouldn't be prosecuted for taking pictures of your own children in the bath.....

greengoblinofgoo Wed 26-Feb-14 11:23:17

Haven't read this thread so don't know what the consensus is but I think this story's a load of shite. A tiny group wiggled its way in with a thousand other groups for a short period of time. What did it gain? Nothing.

Just another example of newspapers trying to cause a splash and boost sales.

ohmymimi Wed 26-Feb-14 11:56:39

Andrew Pierce floundered on today's 'Daily Politics' attempting to defend his paper's attack on HH. Totally unconvincing - maybe because he's not that convinced?

nauticant Wed 26-Feb-14 12:33:09

I'll hazard a guess. Did he say that the Daily Mail shouldn't have to justify its attack and shouldn't have to answer for its own behaviour because it's a family newspaper?

ohmymimi Wed 26-Feb-14 13:04:33

nauticant His performance was poor, but even he isn't draft enough to throw that one of for AN to maul. Wish he had though, the blood splatter would have been spectacular.

ohmymimi Wed 26-Feb-14 13:07:03

of = out

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Wed 26-Feb-14 13:21:45

Donna, I have to take issue with this: Sadly her seat is not a traditional Labour seat. What's a traditional Labour seat? Peckham is a very poor area (mostly) and the London Borough of Southwark which I think covers her entire constituency is one of the poorest areas in Britain, even though it contains Dulwich and a few other very affluent pockets as well as the thriving South Bank. Camberwell and Peckham is one of the safest Labour seats in the country.

AllMimsyWereTheBorogroves Wed 26-Feb-14 13:22:58

Just to clarify, Dulwich is in the neighbouring constituency which is also a safe Labour seat for Tessa Jowell.

somewherewest Wed 26-Feb-14 14:30:29

Then I take it you have never read Lolita. I take it is widely banned and excoriated and one cannot get hold of a copy anywhere

I've read Lolita and didn't find it sympathetic to paedophilia at all. The abuser (Humbert Humbert) comes across as repulsive from start to finish, despite his self-justifying narration.

somewherewest Wed 26-Feb-14 14:39:23

This summarises the issues conveniently. Basically Harman, Hewitt and Dromey all held significant positions within the NCCL while the Paedophile Information Exchange was an affiliate. The BBC also states that PIE's founder made a speech at the NCCL's spring conference in 1977 while Dromey and Hewitt (but not Harman) were in office. Hewitt actually comes off worst, in that she was the NCCL's general secretary when PIE affiliated to it. So they do all have questions to answer, and I say that as a Labour voter. Of course the Daily Mail is pursuing its own agenda, but what paper doesn't? The fact that the Guardian has a massive axe to grind against all things right-wing doesn't necessarily invalidate every story it ever publishes.

claig Wed 26-Feb-14 15:24:28

Harriet joined the NCCL in 1978.
Patricia Hewitt was General Secretary of the NCCL from 1974-1983.
Jack Dromey was on the executive from 1970-1979.
PIE gained affiliate status in 1975.

What was the process for a group to gain affiliate status to the NCCL and who was responsible for approving it?

SeaSickSal Wed 26-Feb-14 16:00:26

Catkins that is not correct. The reason why they have a picture of the text rather than a googleable version is because the original text was a type written document and they have reproduced the original. I suspect if it was the other way around you would be complaining that they had not reproduced the original.

To say that it suggests a 'tightening up' is an absolute lie. It is very clear in that document that the legislation as it stood contained measures which should have protected those who were using such material for educational purposes. As it stood using it for educational purposes was a defence from prosecution and if it could be proven would mean you would not be convicted.

The proving a child was harmed amendment would not have simply ruled out prosecution for people using it for innocent purposes, it would have provided a defence for those who were using it for sexual purposes. I think you know that full well, it was a weakening of legislation rather than a tightening up.

The same document also called for sentences for possession of child porn to be reduced NCCL perceived this as a lesser offence.

The whole tone of the document makes it clear that it is sympathetic towards paedophiles.

Catkinsthecatinthehat Wed 26-Feb-14 16:29:38

I suspect if it was the other way around you would be complaining that they had not reproduced the original.

Well you suspect wrong. I thought it highly suspcious that they buried it in a non-googleable format, especially as it started "the NCCL deplores the explotation of children". If they are making such a big deal of it, both formats should be accessible.

To say that it suggests a 'tightening up' is an absolute lie.

Paragraph 3 starts by stating the drafting is loose and then goes on for nearly two pages with suggested alternatives

It is very clear in that document that the legislation as it stood contained measures which should have protected those who were using such material for educational purposes

If they could prove the material wasn't for indecent purposes. Reverse burden of proof

The proving a child was harmed amendment would not have simply ruled out prosecution for people using it for innocent purposes, it would have provided a defence for those who were using it for sexual purposes. I think you know that full well, it was a weakening of legislation rather than a tightening up.

This is the bit at the end of S4, plus S5 of the submission? Reversing the burden of proof is not acceptable in any circumstance, for any crime and contrary to how English law operates. It's only a weakening of legislation if you think 'prove this is not indecent' is an acceptable starting point rather than 'the prosecution has to prove this is indecent'.

The same document also called for sentences for possession of child porn to be reduced NCCL perceived this as a lesser offence.

S8 at the very end suggests that posession of child porn should have a lower sentence than production of child porn - the draft Bill seems to have set both at the same level. You can disagree with this, but I think that's how it works with the current law.

The whole tone of the document makes it clear that it is sympathetic towards paedophiles.

Well I would disagree and as mentioned above the document is here should anyone want to wade through.

I note thought that the Mail have dragged out Andrew Pierce to tour the TV studios this afternoon with the statement "We have never suggested that Harriet Harman in any way supported paedophilia"

frumpet Wed 26-Feb-14 18:26:46

I am the only person sitting here thinking today would be a good day to bury bad news ? Whats been happening in the house of commons / lords this week , anything of note ?

claig Wed 26-Feb-14 18:54:39

Don't know. What?

frumpet Wed 26-Feb-14 19:13:50

Having read the four pages from catkins link , i would have to agree with her .
Oh and the house of commons website is rather good .

somewherewest Wed 26-Feb-14 19:20:13


I understand (from the BBC or Guardian - I forget which) that it was very easy to affiliate with the NCCL, which also had no procedures in place for disaffiliating undesirable affiliates. So the NCCL were stupid at the very least in having such lax procedures. Also the founder of PIE is claiming to have sat on an NCCL sub-committee, and he addressed at least one conference according to the BBC, which implies some level of tolerance. The current chief of the NCCL (now Liberty) Shami Chakrabarti has very clearly stated her horror and disgust over the link with PIE, which makes Harman's response and Hewitt's complete silence look worse.

frumpet Wed 26-Feb-14 19:20:46

Only gave the website a cursory glance , but will be back to give it my full attention.
Have to say that from what i have read of the actual document , it seems to be more concerned with protecting children from paedophiles as opposed to the other way round .
She even mentions the documentary 'Jonny come home ' which was about young boys who had run away to London being targetted by paedophiles and how this sort of film could be classed as indecent and yet was essential to opening the publics eyes to such activity .

nauticant Wed 26-Feb-14 19:32:21

It is an interesting situation. All parts of The Establishment have skeletons in their closets and they're all hoping that once a few faded and seedy celebs have been put through the wringer, post-Savile public anger will fade.

In the meantime, outfits like the Daily Mail can launch anti-paedo crusades to smear individuals they've got a grudge against. The individuals struggle to prove their innocence over a set of smears that flicker into and out of existence depending on how they're viewed and onlookers who might want to request that the Daily Mail set out fact-based arguments think better of it because they could end up paedo-smeared too.

Meanwhile politicians look on happy to see it being a circus of sound and fury rather than the start of a proper set of investigations.

claig Wed 26-Feb-14 19:36:35

Yes, I think Hewitt should say something. The only interview has been from Harman.

'I understand (from the BBC or Guardian - I forget which) that it was very easy to affiliate with the NCCL, which also had no procedures in place for disaffiliating undesirable affiliates.'

I find this strange. Are there any journalists looking into this?

I do not believe that a far right, racist group could have affiliated to the NCCL. I am sure somebody would have prevented that because the affiliated group could then use the fact that it is affiliated to the NCCL, which is a respected organisation, in its publicity etc to give it some sort of respectability, and if a far right group was affiliated to the NCCL then Labour MPs and other MPs would ask questions why, since it would harm the reputation of the NCCL.

So why did no one apparently question how a paedophile supporting group could be affiliated to the NCCL and why did the senior leadership of the NCCL not do something about it?

The former chairman of the PIE was interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning.

'Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt failed to take action to oust the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) because they "didn't want to rock the boat", its former chairman has claimed.

Tom O'Carroll said Labour's deputy leader and the former health secretary did not support PIE but "didn't even try" to cut its affiliation to the civil liberties organisation they worked at for the sake of their careers.'

tryingreallytrying Wed 26-Feb-14 19:48:41


You stated

"I've read Lolita and didn't find it sympathetic to paedophilia at all. The abuser (Humbert Humbert) comes across as repulsive from start to finish, despite his self-justifying narration."

which kind of misses my point. My point was that sex with under-aged girls was sufficiently normalised in the 70s, the decade in question, that books about sex with children were not only not banned, they were feted as high literature. And pop stars and celebs who boasted publicly about such escapades were not locked up with "paedo" written on their cell - they, too, were admired as 'lads' and given prime Radio 1 shows.

In fact, Harman appears to have been at the rather more sensitive end of attitudes at the time; hardly surprising, given that she has devoted her working life to improving women's rights, and as a as a pp mentioned, the fact that paedophilia is no longer accepted as it was in the 70s is as a direct result of feminism and its insights into sexual power relationships, which after all, is what paedophilia is really about - and why it horrifies us so much now. The reason we do not accept paedophilia is because we have come to realise that the power imbalance in an adult-child relationship means that - contrary to the claims of the men involved - no child could ever be viewed as genuinely willing. This development goes hand-in-hand with changes in attitudes towards, for example, rape in marriage - and our greater understanding of what consent really means.

Harman is the very last person to be an apologist for paedophiles. No wonder she's furious.

claig Wed 26-Feb-14 20:13:05

Paedophilia was not accepted in the 70s. But a paedophile supporting group was allowed to have affiliate status to the NCCL.

The NCCL in 1976 campaigned to lower the age of consent to 14.

But this did not happen because society did not approve.

There are people who want the age of consent lowered to 14 today as well. But society is against it, just as society in the 1970s was against the campaign of the NCCL to lower the age of consent to 14.

This is from Peter Tatchell

"In Britain, consent at 14 has been supported in the past by the National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty) and the Howard League for Penal Reform. Even the ex-Bishop of Glasgow, Derek Rawcliffe, and the late Bishop of Woolwich, John ‘Honest to God’ Robinson, have backed 14 as fairer and more realistic. I don’t often agree with Anglican bishops, but in this case they are right: we do not protect young people by threatening them with arrest and imprisonment. Education and empowerment — not criminalisation — is the best protection."

and apparently the idea was floated by the Number Ten Policy Unit.

'No 10 policy unit 'suggested lowering age of consent to 14'

Lowering the age of sexual consent to 14 and allowing public nudity were among ideas suggested by Downing Street officials drawing up new laws on personal freedoms.'


''The Prime Minister considers the idea of lowering the age of consent to be offensive,'' he said, insisting there were no plans to do so.'

The general population in the 1970s was far less liberal than they are today. But it seems that in the 1970s there existed more radical and liberal forces, as the former chairman of PIE told the BBC, and that some of these radical and liberal forces even supported paedophile groups and that is why PIE could end up being affiliated to the NCCL.

"He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Really they didn't do much to oppose PIE's presence in my view because there were these other liberal forces, or radical forces, within NCCL.

"The support didn't come from Harman and Co but it was there. The Gay Liberation Front was very radical and at that time Harman and Patricia Hewitt couldn't just kick out PIE. Well, they could both try but they didn't even try and the reason they didn't try is they didn't want to rock the boat because their careers within NCCL depended on them not rocking the boat too much."

somewherewest Wed 26-Feb-14 20:18:05


...^the fact that paedophilia is no longer accepted as it was in the 70s^....

This is the bit I'm not getting. That sentence clearly implies that you think paedophilia was accepted in the 70s. By who? If I recall the Saville case correctly most people who came into contact with Saville, such as nurses in the hospitals he hung around, were disgusted by what he got up to. The climate around reporting incidents was different, especially regarding powerful people, but that doesn't mean paedophilia was accepted. Likewise many people who grew up in the 60s & 70s have anecdotes about the 'local weirdo' who was known to take an interest in children - the fact that the weirdo was avoided rather than reported didn't mean anyone approved of what he was doing. There's also a big different between suggesting the age of consent should be fixed at say 14 rather than 16, and arguing that it should be virtually scrapped so that adults can engage in sex with supposedly 'consenting' pre-pubescent children. PIE apparently campaigned for the age of consent to be lowered to four, hardly a mainstream position in the 1970s. I just don't get why its so hard for some people to admit that the NCCL fucked up badly on this one, especially given their current chief has to her credit acknowledged that very clearly.

Lazyjaney Wed 26-Feb-14 20:30:41

"In the meantime, outfits like the Daily Mail can launch anti-paedo crusades to smear individuals they've got a grudge against. The individuals struggle to prove their innocence over a set of smears that flicker into and out of existence depending on how they're viewed and onlookers who might want to request that the Daily Mail set out fact-based arguments think better of it because they could end up paedo-smeared too"

Liberty handled it well, by refusing to apologise Harman looks like she is protecting someone/s interests, that's why this isn't going away.

The DPP sowed this wind by going after Roache, Travis etc with dubious 40 year old accusations, now we are reaping the media whirlwind.

Martorana Wed 26-Feb-14 20:36:14

Harman is refusing to apologise, I suspect, because she's got nothing to apologise for.

claig Wed 26-Feb-14 20:37:48

The reason this PIE story is coming up now is because of the Savile affair and the fact that the police are looking into what went on in the 1970s etc and are looking at PIE.

There is even a suggestion that PIE may have received public funds.

"A Labour MP has called for an investigation into PIE after concerns that it could have received public money.

Tom Watson says he was contacted by a former civil servant who saw documentation suggesting the organisation received taxpayer funding under Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government.

"I was contacted by a former Home Office civil servant who told me that he saw a document that suggests the Paedophile Information Exchange got public money," he told the Daily Mail.

"The document was recommending approval for funding during the Thatcher government. My source, who does not wish to talk to the media, said it appeared to be a re-application for funds.

"He could not be certain whether or not it had been funded by a Labour government but he thought this was possible."

nauticant Wed 26-Feb-14 20:38:03

the fact that paedophilia is no longer accepted as it was in the 70s

I'm a bit unconvinced by this too. To me it looks more like in the 70s there was a culture of deference in which certain parts of society could do all kinds of nasty stuff and simply weren't held to account. Us lower orders could view it with disgust but we knew and they knew that the police weren't going to knock on their doors.

Caitlin17 Wed 26-Feb-14 20:58:57

I agree with Tryingreallytrying

It's not so much that paedophilia was tolerated but that women and children had lesser rights, nit maybe in law but in reality. They certainly had lesser power.

I wonder, any of you who are say mid fifties and over-can you recall if you were at school with any girl who was a bit too knowing too early, the type grown - up women wouldn't trust around their husbands.

I know I was and looking back now I'd put money on that girl having been abused but nobody seemed to have much time or sympathy for her then.

nauticant Wed 26-Feb-14 21:11:48

Having read that Caitlin17, I'm now reminded that another aspect of the 70s view that an abuser-victim mechanism of the sexual abuse of children was often not acknowledged.

tryingreallytrying Wed 26-Feb-14 22:28:59

somewherewest -

"This is the bit I'm not getting. That sentence clearly implies that you think paedophilia was accepted in the 70s. By who?"


It is a fact that groups like PIE could publicly put forward their views, campaign for their ideas to be taken seriously, quite possible receive govt funding as per the most recent posts - are you really seriously suggesting nothing has changed in public attitudes towards paedophilia since the 70s? That this could happen now and no-one would blink an eyelid?

That is just ludicrous - they'd have their throats slit and peado (sic) written in blood on their doors these days if they went public with stuff now.

Of course things have changed since the 70s.

I must assume you are too young to remember the 70s - I do, and as a child of the 70s, I was free to roam everywhere with just my mates, take myself to school down deserted alleys etc as did everyone else. Children had far more freedom and were not wrapped in cotton wool as they are now. Sure, I was taught not to take sweeties from strange men, but then I was just left to it. Most 70s parents would have their kids removed by social services for neglect these days! The big diiference? There was no overwhelming fear of paedophilia or assumption that all strangers esp men were paedophiles unless proven otherwise. No checks on those who work with children etc. Yes, some people were known or rumoured to be a bit 'dodgy', but they weren't arrested for it! That's only happening now.

Which is why all the 70s skeletons are only coming out of the closet now. Because attitudes HAVE changed - it's ridiculous to suggest otherwise.

Devora Wed 26-Feb-14 22:41:45

I was given a copy of Lolita as a birthday present when I was 9. From a well-meaning aunt.

Things WERE different in the 70s. It's not that paedophilia was acceptable, but notions of what paedophilia actually meant and how harmful it was were different. As kids we all joked about our encounters with 'dirty old men'. It's not that these men were approved of, but they weren't taken as seriously as they are now and certainly none of us had our freedom curtailed because of them.

Remember also that children left school at 16 (was it even 15?) and went to work. Most didn't go to university. The average age at first marriage and first pregnancy was much lower than it is now. The general attitude towards children was much less protective; adults' interests generally came first. Remember that these were the years in which we all sat unattended outside pubs while our parents got bladdered inside; we would be sent up the road to buy our parents' fags; we all walked to and from school alone from the age of 7. By 8 or 9 I was a 'latchkey kid', letting myself in and sorting out the tea while my mum worked. This was all considered perfectly normal parenting in the 70s, not at all sub-standard.

The current prosecutions of 70s light entertainment stars are really interesting because they show how society HAS changed. I'm not making excuses for what they did - it's partly because of feminist activism in the 70s and 80s that things changed, and I'm proud to have been part of that - but I'm sure it's true that some of the charges being brought now would never have been brought back then.

Caitlin17 Wed 26-Feb-14 22:51:12

Tryingreallytrying Correct. Parents were far less hands on. Children weren't ferried about in cars, we did have more freedom and more responsibility.

I find it very strange when there are threads on here agonising about things 16,17 and 18 year olds do. When I started school the leaving age was 15. It was raised to 16 but there was nothing surprising in the non academic children leaving at 16 or 17 and being married with their own children. This wasn't a deprived inner city area but a reasonably comfortable farming community in Aberdeenshire.

You're absolutely right we didn't think there were paedophiles every where.

Caitlin17 Wed 26-Feb-14 22:53:43

Devora what you say,all true, and applicable to all classes.

tryingreallytrying Wed 26-Feb-14 23:23:53

All that said, I absolutely agree with the pp who wonders what bad news the govt were trying to hide this week!!

My money is on the ILLEGAL SALE of all our NHS records to an insurance company for peanuts in the same week that the govt had to postpone legislation to allow them to do just that because it was unpopular. That should have been much bigger news than it was...

Caitlin17 Wed 26-Feb-14 23:46:04

Has everyone seen the letters page of today's Guardian?

There's letter from someone who attended a Gay Pride march in 1979 where PIE posters were openly displayed.

The writer also referred to an NUS gay rights conference at Leeds university in 1980 where a key note speaker was a member of PIE.

There's another from someone pointing out PIE held its annual conference in the early 80s on the premises of department of experimental psychology at Oxford.

claig Thu 27-Feb-14 06:06:12

The 70s were the time of the loony left

FloraFox Thu 27-Feb-14 06:57:56

This is not an issue of the left, not even remotely. This is an issue of liberalism / libertarianism together with an establishment where child sex abuse was common in public schools.

wanderings Thu 27-Feb-14 07:12:12

Why is no one outraged by this?

Because it's in the Mail? Usually MN thinks the Mail is the worst scourge of the Earth.

Because politicians in general have sunk to such depths in the last few years, that absolutely nothing about them surprises us any more?

ithaka Thu 27-Feb-14 07:28:30

Why is no one outraged by this/

I am outraged by the Mail's smear campaign against a women who has consistently championed women & Children's rights throughout her career - something the Mail could never be accused of. It is not Harman who needs to apologise.

Lazyjaney Thu 27-Feb-14 07:43:28

"Harman is refusing to apologise, I suspect, because she's got nothing to apologise for"

That was then, but times and mores have changed, people are now judging actions of 40 years ago by today's standards.

Chakrabati "go it", Harman hasn't. The more she vacillates, the longer it will go on and worse it will get.

TheHoneyBadger Thu 27-Feb-14 08:15:01

it is such a red herring. there were actual MPs of the time (on all sides) engaged in paedophilia, visiting elm house, abusing children in care, giving access to paedophil