Padraig Colman

Rambling ruminations of an Irishman in Sri Lanka

Tag: Private Eye

Islington Child Abuse Part One

This article appeared in Ceylon Today on Thursday September 8 2016.

Colman's Column3

 

An article I published in Ceylon Today last August has been shared by a few people recently. The article dealt with current UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s lack of action during the Islington care homes scandal which erupted in the late 80s. Corbyn is facing a re-election contest. Despite the fact that most of the parliamentary Labour Party have deserted him, it seems likely that he will remain leader because he has the backing of Labour Party members outside parliament.

1984

https://pcolman.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/ad-hominem-mr-corbyn/

Matthew Collings (a British art critic, writer, TV presenter, and artist) raised the pertinent question on Facebook: given his unpopularity with journalists, why have the English media not given more prominence to allegations that Jeremy Corbyn did not assist, and may have obstructed, the investigations into allegations of sexual abuse of children in council-run care homes in his constituency of Islington in north London? Collings said that he took a particular interest in the matter because he himself missed secondary education, receiving therapy instead at the Finchden Manor Community, a haven for disturbed teenage boys. I have canvassed a number of people in ‘the media’ and done some digging around.

lowell-goddard

There are still many unanswered questions about the Islington scandal. Islington was not on the agenda of Judge Goddard’s historical abuse inquiry because no one submitted it to her. Goddard has now resigned and been replaced by Alexis Jay, who led the official inquiry into the Rotherham scandal, which found that at least 1,400 children were sexually exploited in the town between 1997 and 2013. She is the fourth person to head the inquiry. How long will she last? The satirical magazine Private Eye has referred to the passing of the baton by Britain’s top female relay team.

Kincora

An informed source told me that a senior political figure claims that the cross-party silence on allegations about Westminster paedophile rings stems from the involvement of the security services in relation to Northern Ireland. There are connections between Kincora and Islington.

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The Kincora Boys’ Home in Belfast was the scene of serious organised child sexual abuse and an attempted cover-up. Allegations of abuse first surfaced in 1977. There were credible allegations that the state colluded in a cover up. On 3 April 1980, three members of staff at the home, William McGrath, Raymond Semple and Joseph Mains, were charged with a number of offences relating to the systematic sexual abuse of children in their care over a number of years; they were all convicted.

In April 1990, a writer called Robert Harbinson (aka Robin Bryans) stated in the Dublin-based magazine Now that Lord Mountbatten and others were involved in an old-boy network which held gay orgies in country houses, as well as at the Kincora Boys’ Home. Another writer, Stephen Prior, in his 2002 book War of the Windsors, claimed that rumours had “linked (Lord Mountbatten) with the notorious scandal surrounding the Kincora Boys’ Home…”.“(Lord Mountbatten) was also said to have an interest in what homosexuals call ‘rough trade’ and to be particularly attracted to working-class boys in their early teens.” Mountbatten was murdered by the Provisional IRA in Mullaghmore, County Sligo, Ireland  on 27 August 1979.

The Kincora case has become live again because the Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA) began examining allegations relating to Kincora on 31 May 2016, including claims that there was a paedophile ring at the home with links to the intelligence services. Sir Anthony Hart, chairman of the HIA said possible “systemic failures to prevent such abuse” will be investigated. He said that a number of state bodies will be examined, including the RUC. He also confirmed that MI5 and MI6 will be investigated and both will be legally represented at the inquiry. The then Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said that all state agencies would co-operate with the inquiry. James Brokenshire was appointed Northern Ireland Secretary of State by Theresa May on July 14 2016. We will await news of Brokenshire’s performance on Kincora.

Many years ago, Private Eye alleged that high-ranking civil servants and senior military officers were sexually abusing boys at Kincora. https://spotlightonabuse.wordpress.com/tag/kincora-boys-home/. Former army intelligence officer Brian Gemmell said a senior MI5 officer told him to stop looking into claims of abuse at Kincora. He said he presented a report on the allegations to the officer in 1975. “He bawled me out. He was rude and offensive and hostile.”

Another former Army officer, Colin Wallace, suffered worse than rudeness. Wallace said he received intelligence in 1973 to say that boys were being abused, and claims his superiors refused to pass on the information.

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Wallace was wrongly convicted of manslaughter in 1981, for which he spent six years in gaol. The conviction was later quashed in the light of new evidence. Paul Foot, in his book Who framed Colin Wallace? suggested that Wallace may have been framed for the killing to discredit the allegations he was making.  During the appeal hearing, a Home Office pathologist, Dr Ian West, admitted that some of the evidence that he had used at Wallace’s trial had been supplied to him by “an American security source”. In June 1998, a former Special Branch officer who was familiar with the Wallace case wrote to Paul Foot saying: “I sincerely believe that Colin Wallace was ‘fitted up’ by corrupt members of the Establishment embarrassed by the events described in the early part of your book”. Alex Carlile  QC (now Lord Carlile), then the SDP–Liberal Alliance’s Legal Affairs spokesman, issued a statement saying: “It is clear that Colin Wallace, a principled man, knew too much about the Kincora Boys’ Home scandal.”

In 1987, a former senior Ministry of Defence civil servant (once described to me by another mandarin as a “tough cookie”), Clive Ponting, said that he had attended high-level meetings with MI5 officers to discuss Wallace. “There was never any suspicion that Wallace was making these stories up or that it was totally unfounded and very easy to rubbish. It was very much a matter that, OK the story was being contained at the moment because he was in jail, but that in a few years’ time he would be back out again and could be expected to start making the allegations again and then that would be a serious problem.”

In the House of Commons, in 1990, the Government admitted that Ministers had “inadvertently misled” (code for “lied”) Parliament over Wallace’s role. Mrs Thatcher wrote: “I regret to say that a re-examination of departmental papers has brought to light information which shows that there were a number of statements in my letters, and in other Ministerial statements and official correspondence, which were incorrect or require clarification.”

In his 1999 book The Dirty War, Martin Dillon claimed that McGrath (convicted of child abuse at Kincora), who was also the leader of an obscure loyalist paramilitary group called Tara, may have been employed by MI5 since the 1960s and was being blackmailed into providing intelligence on other loyalist groups.

The Belfast News Letter reported that files on Kincora were “conspicuously absent” from the routine January 2013 release of 1982 government papers by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) under the 30-year rule.

 

In a recent item in Private Eye (issue 1425 September 1 2016), it was revealed that thousands of historic files remain suppressed long after the 30-year rule should have released them. This is because the Advisory Council on National Records and Archives is dominated by former diplomats, senior police officers and civil servants and shadowy figures from the world of espionage.

 

As well as ignoring the Islington abuse, the Goddard Inquiry also set aside the Kincora boys’ home case. Some campaigners had wanted Kincora to be investigated as part of the wider Westminster inquiry into historical child abuse, which they argue has more powers than the devolved HIA inquiry.

 

I am not a fan of conspiracy theories. However, there are times when people really do conspire to cover up evil deeds. Particular areas which are prone to this are paedophile rings, military intelligence and Northern Ireland. All those ingredients are mixed up in this brew together with the peculiarities of Labour politics of the 1970s, which shaped the Corbyn we have today.

 

More about Labour Party history next week.

Chuckle Muscles Part Two

This article appeared in Ceylon Today on July 22 2015

Colman's Column3It’s being so cheerful as keeps me going – Mona Lott, a character on the 1940s radio show ITMA (It’s that Man Again).

Legal scholar and behavioral economist Cass Sunstein wrote in the New York Review of Books that in 2010, when he was Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration, he asked a colleague how things were going. The reply was: “My moment-by-moment happiness is pretty low, but my life satisfaction is great.” The colleague was an expert on  research into happiness, and he was referring to two different measures of “happiness”.

Can’t Buy Happiness?

In the US and in many other industrialized countries, happiness often means money. Economists have assumed that they can measure progress and public welfare by looking at consumer confidence. The Beatles sang that money could not buy you love. Can it buy you happiness?

In 1974, economist Richard Easterlin published a paper, “Does Economic Growth Improve the Human Lot?” Above a low level of income, Easterlin found no correlation between happiness and GNP per head. In 1972, two economists, William Nordhaus and James Tobin, introduced a measure that they called “Net Economic Welfare,” which showed that a society with more leisure could have as much welfare as one with more work.

Lord Layard of Laughs

Kenneth Clark was an art historian who won international fame with a BBC TV series called Civilisation. Such was his subsequent fame and prestige that he won a peerage. Although he took the title Baron Clark of Saltwood, the satirical magazine Private Eye facetiously dubbed him Lord Clark of Civilisation. Richard Layard should be Lord Layard of Laughs.

Some people make a living studying happiness. I wonder if they are happy in their work.  It is of some significance that Richard Layard’s early work was on unemployment and inequality. In the early 1970s, Layard became interested in Easterlin’s work and, in 2005, he published the book Happiness: Lessons from a New Science, in which he emphasised the importance of non-income variables. In 2012, he co-edited, with Jeffrey Sachs and John Helliwell, the World Happiness Report for the UN. Layard cites three factors that economists often fail to take into consideration:

  • Happiness depends on relative as well as absolute income. Constant compulsory competition makes work and life unpleasant.
  • People will invest more time at work than is good for them if they do not accept that their idea of what is a sufficient income will change.
  • The relative values of one’s accumulated possessions depreciate and consequently the store of happiness depreciates.

It’s All Relative

At a conference on happiness in Nova Scotia, Siddiqur Osmani, a professor of applied economics from the University of Ulster in Ireland, said, “Even in a very miserable condition you can be very happy if you are grateful for small mercies. If someone is starving and hungry and given two scraps of food a day, he can be very happy.” That reminded me of the closing scene of the film of Solzhenitsyn’s A Day in the Life of  Ivan Denisovich. Tom Courtenay looks back on a wretched day in the gulag on the icy tundra and remarks: “Well, it wasn’t so bad. I managed to get two bowls of porridge”.

Taxing for Happiness

Layard argues that government can, through tax policy, help citizens preserve a healthy work-life balance. One purpose of taxation is to counteract the cognitive bias that causes people to work more than is good for their happiness. What we see in the USA and the UK is that taxation is bad, inequality acceptable and redistribution through taxation anathema.

A common measure of happiness is to ask people to say how satisfied they are with their lives, on a scale of 0 to 10. One concern has always been that people’s responses to happiness surveys are unreliable. Through these self-evaluations, social scientists are not measuring people’s actual feelings as they experience their lives.

Purpose

Paul Dolan’s contribution to the debate is a book called Happiness by Design.  Dolan is an economist who is now a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics. He has worked with UK public officials on their efforts to measure happiness. To Dolan, the purpose of our activities affects how we perceive the quality of our experiences. The idea of attention is crucial. This reminds me of something WH Auden wrote: “To pray is to pay attention to something or someone other than oneself. Whenever a man so concentrates his attention — on a landscape, a poem, a geometrical problem, an idol, or the True God — that he completely forgets his own ego and desires, he is praying.” Whether we have a sense of pleasure or purpose depends on where we are focusing our attention. To be truly happy, Dolan concludes, we need to experience both pleasure and purpose, and when the balance is wrong, or when people focus on one at the expense of the other, their lives will be impaired.

Dolan’s Idea of Happiness

Like mygoodself Dolan was brought up in a working class Irish household on council estates and was the first of his family to go to university. However, we have very different ideas of how to achieve happiness.  In a Guardian article, Dolan wrote: “I have never read a novel in my life. There are only so many hours in the day and I have decided to fill them with activities other than reading made-up stories.” Fair enough. He goes to the gym four times a week and enjoys partying and holidays (without the kids) in Ibiza. He loves his wife and children but scoffs at the delusion that they are an unalloyed joy. Having got the science out of the way, he concludes: “the most important and yet most underappreciated ingredient to being happy – luck. I am a very lucky man: not because I have a great job and family and all that stuff but because I have a sunny disposition.” Someone commented: “Hey look it’s a bloke who likes doing some stuff but doesn’t like doing other stuff, yeah? Mind-blowing.”

Dolan

Gross National Happiness

As long ago as 1972, Bhutan’s King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, decided to make his nation’s priority GNH, or gross national happiness. His aim was to share prosperity across society and balance it with preserving cultural traditions, protecting the environment and maintaining a responsive government. While household incomes in Bhutan remain among the world’s lowest, life expectancy increased by 19 years from 1984 to 1998, jumping to 66 years.

Happiness Equation

Many happiness economists believe they have solved the problem of culture difference comparison by using cross-sections of large data samples across nations and time to demonstrate consistent patterns in the determinants of happiness. Objective measures such as lifespan, income, and education are often used as well as or instead of subjectively reported happiness.

A research team, led by Dr Rob Rutledge, at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London, backed up by the Max Planck Society, combined their analysis  of subjective surveys with brain scans to correlate happiness-resulting decisions with brain activity. They found significant activity in the ventral striatum and the insular cortex.

The team came up with an equation:

Happiness = baseline average mood + what you can settle for (CR) + what you’ll get on average if you gamble (EV) + the difference between that and what you actually get (RPE). The recurring ∑-function weights each factor in turn by its recent history

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Happiness in Europe

 

The New Economics Foundation (NeF), using over 40,000 interviews from the 2006/07 European Social Survey, found that Denmark topped the league for  overall well-being, with the UK ranked 13th out of 22 countries . The Nef study placed Switzerland, Norway, Ireland, Austria and Sweden after Denmark with the highest levels of overall well-being

 

The study found the UK was among the bottom four of the 22 nations when it came to feelings of trust and belonging. While the over-75s scored highly on trust, for the 16-24 age group, the UK reported the lowest levels anywhere in Europe. The Nef researchers said the UK’s poor performance on this “key element of social well-being” was indicative of a “highly individualistic culture”. Britons also recorded the second lowest energy levels in Europe and were fourth highest when it came to feeling bored. This does not augur well for Britain’s future.  Nef said the results show UK government policies have focused too much on economic growth at the expense of overall well-being.

 

The Almost Nearly Perfect People

The Scandinavian countries (and Ireland) usually come out well in surveys of happiness. British journalist, Michael Booth, is somewhat skeptical. Booth is married to a Dane and has lived in Copenhagen for ten years. Booth says Danes “tend to approach the subject of their much-vaunted happiness like the victims of a practical joke waiting to discover who the perpetrator is.” In The Almost Nearly Perfect People, he explores the rest of Scandinavia.

Thin Line between Relaxed and Smug

 

Newspaper editor Anne Knudsen cast a cynical gaze on those happiness surveys: “In Denmark it is shameful to be unhappy. If you ask me how I am and I start telling you how bad I feel, then it might force you to do something about it. It might put a burden on you to help me.” Kaare Christensen, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Southern Denmark, suggested that the Danes might have been drunk when responding to happiness questionnaires. A similar comment was made about the Irish. “If expectations are unrealistically high they could also be the basis of disappointment and low life satisfaction. Year after year they are pleasantly surprised to find that not everything is getting more rotten in the state of Denmark.”

 

Happichondria –Are We Having Fun Yet?

John Updike wrote: “America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy”. JD Salinger confessed: “I’m a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people are plotting to make one happy.”Americans are destroying the planet because of their “inalienable right” to seek happiness through rampant consumerism. The Danish corrective – satisfaction with the achievement of low expectations is more attractive than boundless ambitious craving.

 

Inequality and Unhappiness

The Nordic Noir crime novels of Jo Nesbo, Stig Larson and Arnaldur Indriasson show that the Scandinavian countries fall far short of paradise. Sjowall and Wahloo were finding something rotten in the state of Sweden back in the 60s in their Martin Beck series.

 

Inequality has risen in Sweden in the past decade and a half, at a rate four times as high as in the US. In Finland, too, the Gini coefficient has climbed four points since the late nineteen-eighties. Something is going wrong.

Inequality makes us crave for goods by constantly reminding us that we have less than the next person. Health professionals report epidemics of ‘hurry sickness’, ‘toxic success syndrome’, the ‘frantic family’, the ‘over-commercialized child’ and ‘pleonexia’. John Stuart Mill wrote in the 19th Century: “The best state for human nature is that in which, while no one is poor, no one desires to be richer, nor has any reason to fear being thrust back, by the efforts of others to push themselves forward.”

The Cult of Happiness

In his recently published book, The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business sold us Well-Being, William Davies writes about governmental and corporate entities working hard to convert the concept of happiness into a “measurable, visible, improvable entity.” He says that the notion of “happiness” has moved from being an add-on, to being a measurement useful in the business of making money. Being depressed will no longer be socially acceptable. The state or big business will deal with that. Governments and business are ready to exploit the “science of happiness” to manage the dislocations of contemporary capitalism. Marcuse wrote about “repressive tolerance” – keeping the masses comfortable enough materially to stop them rebelling. Huxley published Brave New World in 1932, recognizing even then that it was inimical to individual freedom when governments became interested in promoting happiness as a means of social control. Further back than that in 1920 Yevgeny Zamyatin’s dystopian fantasy We depicted the horror of a society where happiness was compulsory.

We still have not learnt.

Only Connect, Only Congest

This article appeared in Lakbima News on Sunday January 29 2012

Forster’s Connections

“Only connect” is a commonly quoted aphorism by EM Forster.  I have never quite understood it. Forster himself was quite keen to connect with policemen, bus drivers and Egyptian labouring men but that probably is not the wisdom of the aphorism. Forster’s literary output was small. The author of works such as A Room with a View and Howards End stopped writing in 1924, after he published A Passage To India. He lived until 1970. According to Wendy Moffat, associate professor of English at Dickinson College, Pennsylvania, Forster had sex with a man for the first time at the age of 38  – an injured soldier on an Egyptian beach. He met his long-term lover – a married policeman – some years later.

Only one novel, Maurice, dealt with gay issues. It was written around 1910 but was not published until after Forster’s death. Edward Morgan Forster was known to his friends as Morgan. Prepare for an elaborate punning joke. Stay awake at the back there! 1966 was the 50th anniversary of the Easter rebellion in Ireland. One of the rebels executed was Roger Casement. Over the years, the British leaked Casement’s diaries in order to smear his reputation because of his homosexuality. Also in 1966, a film was released called Morgan: a Suitable Case for Treatment, starring David Warner and Vanessa Redgrave. The satirical magazine Private Eye published a spoof film poster announcing: “Morgan: a Suitable Treat for Casement – a tale of the Easter Rising”.

SLT Cancels Christmas

Enough digressing! The phrase “Only connect” has been in my mind lately because I have been trying to connect with my sainted aunt in Ireland in order to give her our seasonal greetings. SLT won’t  let me talk to her. She is almost 92 and in poor health but sharp of mind and tongue. I started phoning  through IDD on our SLT land line long before Christmas Day. Every time I dialled the Irish number, I was interrupted by a  female  Sri Lankan voice saying “Your call cannot be connected at this time because all our circuits are busy”. This was followed by a saxophone playing what sounded like George Michael’s  Careless Whisper. (I keep getting  it mixed up with Careless Rapture by Ivor Novello, Siegfried Sassoon’s gay lover. Sorry to get back on the gay theme!) Careless Rupture would be more appropriate.

Now, at least this SLT woman sounded civil when she told me she was not allowing my call. A great improvement on the creature I call “The Congestion Woman”. That one  sounds like a bossy woman in a sari – a huge mountainous woman who wobbles when she breathes. “You call cannot be connected due to the congestion” she shouts.

Help!

I kept trying to call my aunt in Ireland until way after New Year’s day. I was trepidatious about calling an SLT help line because I usually want to take my own life after trying to get through to the call centre. I really am not a misogynist but I always pray that a man will answer. The women usually start off sounding irritated that I have disturbed them and grow increasingly impatient as I try to explain the fault. They always sound as though they think I am stupid and to blame for the lack of connection.

Black Arts

Getting connected  to the call centre at all is a major  trauma. One is given a menu to choose from. On the internet help line two of the options seem appropriate but if one chooses the wrong number all one gets is a high-pitched screech which almost pierces one’s eardrum. Then one has to wait for an average of twelve minutes before anyone answers. If one could just drift into a meditative trance while waiting patiently, it would not be too bad. SLT will not countenance this. One’s ears are filled with noise, the noise of the black arts of advertising and marketing.

“Ayabowen –our call centre officers will assist you shortly”. One is subjected to that doomy, boomy Americanised voice one hears on movie trailers. Also those annoying children’s voices which assail one on trips to the supermarket  – God rot you and blast you Tiny Tim!

“Open your home to the world of Megaline”. Why should I? “Conversations drenched in memory”. My memory is drenched in frustration s I try to connect.

“A home where you are never alone”. What kind of hell is that?

“Your world is never confined”. Well, my world is actually confined when I keep losing  my internet connection and I am prevented from speaking to my family in Ireland.

Pump Don’t work ‘Cause the Vandals Stole the Handles

Before broadband became available in our neck of the mountains, I tried to get SLT to deal with the problems I was having with connecting to the internet. A very helpful man promised that he would get their best technical brains working on it and the problem would definitely be solved. Eventually he got bored and told me the problem was that I lived too far from the exchange. It seemed that I needed to sell my home and move somewhere else.

A couple of years later someone stole the SLT cables for the sake of the copper. I was without a phone line for two months and had to take a 36 kilometre round trip to check my e-mails. Despite these inconveniences I received a bill that was six times the normal amount.

When broadband did become available, SLT put on intense marketing pressure to sign up for it. I was persuaded. After paying the requisite fee, it took five months to actually enjoy the benefits of ADSL. Things have definitely improved and my outgoings have reduced. It is still frustrating however because the connection can be suddenly lost. When one gets through to the helpline, one is told “there has been a common service issue”. Nevertheless, I have been without an internet connection for three days at time. No sign of a refund.

Endless Buffering

I was looking forward to the joys of YouTube – salivating at the possibility of watching archive footage of my departed jazz heroes  like Eric Dolphy and John Coltrane. It was not to be. The video clips keep stopping and starting because of endless “buffering”.

I looked at various internet fora on this topic – when SLT allowed me to c! I find that I am not the only one to have this problem and that it happens in Colombo as well as in my mountain retreat. One frustrated customer writes:  “I get Browsing Speed 512 kbps. But I get 47kb as Kilo Bytes. For Direct Download without IDM I get only 6 or 7kb. Same for some files that download via IDM – I got 5 or 60 before”. “Ya, ADSL is supposed to be fast, but of late, I have felt that internet has slowed down from about ten in the morning till about nine in the night”. “Yep, now I can’t stream YouTube even at six in the evening”. “From the beginning of august, my ADFSL (Home 512/128) connection got a huge slowdown in both down and uplinks. But the funny thing is torrent download speed is working same as past (normally 55kbps). Bur the direct downloads from rapidshare, medoafire, hotfile and filesonic were dropped own to 10kbps. (Before this slowdown these downloads came in at 60kbps). All the parameters in the router are the same as in the past(like attenuation, SNR margin). I called 1243 and opened a complaint. Then a guy called from SLT technical division and said there were no problems in the connection and the have NO BLACKLIST FOR HEAVY USERS.”

So, did I get to speak to my aunt in Ireland? Sort of. We phoned the SLT helpline and explained that I was not able to get through to any landline number in Ireland from my landline. This could not be simply a problem between my phone and my aunt’s phone. I asked if an operator could connect us to the Irish number. The answer was a resounding NO!

After several calls to SLT in Sinhala as well as English , the only solution they could offer was to try phoning on a cell phone. We did get through but it was difficult to have a conversation and the call was of course more expensive than a landline call. No one could explain why our landline calls were being intercepted. We learnt later that SLT’s way of following up the complaint was to ignore the time differences between Sri Lanka and Ireland and phone my aunt several times in the middle of the night to check the line. This caused her considerable anxiety.

Connect the Prose and the Passion

Forster’s ‘only connect” catchphrase comes at the epigraph to Howard’s End. Calm down! Howard’s end is a house, not an anatomical appendage. The full quotation is: “Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer”.

Never mind about connecting the prose and the passion. Can we just connect Badulla with County Cork?

Jeremy Thorpe RIP

A shorter version of this article appeared in Ceylon Today on Wednesday December 10 2014.

Colman's Column3

The news of former UK Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe’s death surprised me. My first reaction was, echoing Dorothy Parker’s question on hearing of the demise of President Calvin Coolidge: “How could they tell?” I was surprised that Thorpe had not died long ago. There have not been many sightings of him over the past several decades but when I last saw a picture of him, he was decidedly cadaverous.

express

I have often noted a quality of masochistic auto-schadenfreude in some Sri Lankans. They boast about how awful things are in their own country and marvel at how wonderful things are in the motherland of their former oppressors. They will concede that there is corruption and other wrongdoing in the UK but delude themselves that wrongdoers are always brought to justice and often the culprit does the honourable thing by resigning.

The case of Jeremy Thorpe is instructive. Obituaries describe him as charismatic and witty. His jibe after Harold Macmillan sacked several of his Cabinet in 1962: “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his friends for his own life.” Of Edward Heath, he said “a plum pudding around whom no one knew how to light the brandy”.

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Way back in 1979, I was on secondment from the big city of Manchester to the small town of Ashton-under-Lyne. The town was decidedly working class but also conservative. I could not get my usual liberal-left Guardian and had to settle for the Tory Telegraph. This proved to be a blessing in disguise because the Torygraph had a well-deserved reputation for providing detailed reports on salacious court cases. This was the go-to paper for sexual scandal, far superior to the late and unlamented News of the World.

In 1979, Thorpe was on trial for conspiracy to murder Norman Joliffe (otherwise known as Norman Scott). Scott had become a persistent nuisance to Thorpe with his claim that he had had a homosexual affair with the Liberal Party leader at a time when homosexual acts were illegal.

ScottRinka

In late 1960 or early 1961, Thorpe first met Scott at Kingham Stables at Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire, where the younger man was working for Thorpe’s friend Norman Vater. Thorpe told Scott if he ever needed help, should call him at the House of Commons. Soon after meeting Thorpe, Scott fell out with Vater and lost his job and national insurance card. On 8 November 1961, Scott went to the House of Commons to see Thorpe. Thorpe promised he would help to get him a replacement NI card. Scott claimed that a homosexual liaison with Thorpe began that same evening, at Thorpe’s mother’s home, and continued for several years.

Thorpe helped Scott in many ways, but Scott was resentful and claimed that Thorpe held on to the new NI card. Thorpe denied this and the missing card became a major grievance for Scott. In December 1962, Scott told a friend of his plan to shoot Thorpe and commit suicide. The friend alerted the police, to whom Scott gave a detailed statement about his affair with Thorpe. The police took no action but a report was added to Thorpe’s MI5 file.

In mid-March 1965, Scott wrote a long letter to Thorpe’s mother informing her of the homosexual affair. He accused Thorpe of callousness and disloyalty. Ursula Thorpe gave the letter to her son, who drafted a statement rejecting the “damaging and groundless accusations” and accusing Scott of attempting to blackmail him. Thorpe turned to Liberal MP Peter Bessell for advice. Bessell flew to Dublin in April 1965 and after that for two years Scott stayed quiet in Ireland. In July 1967, Scott returned to England. Bessell began paying Scott a “retainer” of between £5 and £10 a week and gave him £75, on the understanding there would be no further demands for a year.

Thorpe was now leader of the Liberal Party but was not an immediate success. Some of his aides, doubtful about his sexual orientation, were disturbed by his comments about his marriage to Caroline Allpass: “worth five points in the polls”.

Scott’s reappearance in November 1968 disturbed Thorpe and, early in December 1968, he summoned Bessell to his office in the House of Commons. Thorpe said: “We’ve got to get rid of him”, and later: “It is no worse than shooting a sick dog”. Thorpe argued that disposal of Scott’s body down a mine was feasible. He suggested his friend David Holmes, a party assistant treasurer and best man at Thorpe’s wedding, as an appropriate assassin.

In May 1969, Scott married. Later, when his wife could not claim maternity benefits, Scott again threatened to talk to newspapers. Bessell managed to get him an emergency NI card and Scott went quiet for a while. In 1970, Scott’s marriage collapsed; he blamed Thorpe, and again threatened exposure. Bessell kept Thorpe’s name out of the divorce proceedings, and Thorpe anonymously paid the legal costs.

In May 1971, Scott told his story to senior Liberals, who, although unconvinced, felt the matter warranted further investigation. A confidential party inquiry dismissed Scott’s allegations.

Thorpe’s first wife had been killed in a car crash in 1970 and in 1973, he married Marion, Countess of Harewood, whose former husband was the Queen’s cousin. In the February 1974 general election, the Liberals won over six million votes (19.3% of votes cast), but won only 14 seats.

In January 1974, Scott told his story to Tim Keigwin, Thorpe’s Conservative opponent in North Devon, but his leadership told him to keep quiet. In January 1974, Holmes paid £2,500 for documents Scott had passed to his doctor. Builders renovating a London office formerly used by Bessell found a further cache of papers in November 1974, which they took to the Sunday Mirror who passed the papers to Thorpe and suppressed the story.

Newton lured Scott to Porlock Moor, shot Scott’s dog, Rinka, and turned the gun on Scott, saying, “It’s your turn now”. The gun jammed several times and Newton drove away. At the trial that convicted Newton of firearms offences, Scott made his claims about Thorpe public.

waugh

In Private Eye on 12 December 1975, Auberon Waugh wrote: “My only hope is that sorrow over his friend’s dog will not cause Mr Thorpe’s premature retirement from public life”. In the 1979 election, Waugh ran against Thorpe on the Dog Lovers’ Party ticket. Waugh published his own account of the trial The Last Word: An Eye-Witness Account of the Thorpe Trial. Most newspapers knew what was going on but covered it up. Nevertheless, as with the current situation relating to a former cabinet minister and rumours of paedophilia, journalists were firing warning shots.

wilsonheath

Barry Penrose and Roger Courtiour, collectively known as “Pencourt”, had originally been hired by former Labour prime minister Harold Wilson after his retirement, to investigate his theory that Thorpe was a target of South African intelligence agencies. Barry Penrose returned to the story, this time in association with Simon Freeman and wrote a book, which gripped my attention when I read it at the time. (Bloomsbury Publishing brought out a new edition, 17 July 1997 Rinkagate: The Rise and Fall of Jeremy Thorpe). They believe that Thorpe probably formed the outline of a plan to silence Scott early in 1974.Holmes later said that Thorpe was insistent that Scott be killed. Through a series of intermediaries Holmes was put in touch, in February 1975, with Andrew Newton, an airline pilot, who said he was willing to dispose of Scott for an appropriate fee—between £5,000 and £10,000 was suggested. Newton always insisted that the size of his fee showed that his job was to kill, not frighten Scott.

In January 1976, Scott appeared before magistrates on a social security fraud charge, and spoke in court about a sexual relationship with Thorpe. This claim, made in court and therefore protected from the libel laws, was widely reported. On 10 May 1976, Thorpe resigned as Liberal leader.

 

Newton, released from prison in October 1977, sold his story to the London Evening News. He said that he had been paid £5,000 to kill Scott. A lengthy police enquiry followed, at the end of which Thorpe, and three others were charged with conspiracy to murder. Thorpe was additionally charged with incitement to murder.

Reporting restrictions were lifted, which meant that newspapers were free to print anything said in court without fear of the libel laws. Thorpe had hoped for an in camera hearing which would avoid unfortunate newspaper headlines. Scott gave clinical details of his alleged seduction by Thorpe in November 1961 and on other occasions.

cook

Comic genius Peter Cook mocked the judge’s summing up for the jury: “You will now retire to consider your verdict of not guilty.” The real judge himself said of Scott: “He is a fraud. He is a sponger. He is a whiner. He is a parasite.”

 

eye acquittal

Despite the acquittal, the broader public perception was strong that Thorpe had not behaved well, nor had he adequately explained himself. He continued to be an embarrassment to the Liberal Party which blocked a return to active politics. In 1982, Amnesty International appointed him director of its British section, but after protests from the organisation’s staff, he withdrew. Not long afterwards, Thorpe first showed signs of the Parkinson’s disease that led to his almost complete withdrawal into private life in the mid-1980s.

The son of Thorpe’s defending counsel George Carman, who won the acquittal ,told The Times: “The best deal done by Carman QC was persuading Taylor QC [counsel for the prosecution] not to use any of the abundant evidence of Thorpe’s promiscuous homosexuality.”

The papers, Waugh asserts, knew a great deal about the whole affair for years, but, mostly out of cowardice and obsequiousness, declined to write about it. Many journalists knew that the scandal was potentially much bigger than just a case of a gay party leader. There have long been allegations on the internet that Jeremy Thorpe had a taste for young street boys and runaway teenagers were often brought to him. Thorpe certainly covered up the sordid activities of Cyril Smith the paedophile Liberal MP for Rochdale. There is a suggestion that Thorpe was acquitted because he threatened to expose the perversions of others in high places. Rumours of paedophile rings in government and parliament have persisted for decades and continue today.

smith

The case of Jeremy Thorpe is instructive. Obituaries look hard for the good in him, describing him as charismatic and witty. He spoke out against apartheid and the racist Ian Smith regime in Rhodesia. He made a show of detesting inequality, but did not formulate a practical plan to improve matters. He was involved in a company that was charging 280 per cent interest on second mortgages, and when, at the end of 1973, the company collapsed there was revealed a tangled web of fraud. Rumours of ballot-rigging, clouded Thorpe’s election to the presidency of the Oxford Union as long ago as 1951.

He reacted strongly against Establishment snobbery but did not hesitate to use his connections to protect himself. An Old Etonian and Oxford graduate from a long line of Conservative MPs, he could have been a Tory. Labour politicians as well as Conservative and Liberal protected him. There has been some comment in the blogosphere along the lines of: “Thorpe was a victim of homophobia”. He was not on trial for Homosexuality. Bisexuality or paedophilia. He was on trial for incitement to murder and conspiracy to murder. He used his establishment connections to get away with it.

Sir Cyril Smith

Auberon Waugh, when writing his book, had to be careful about the libel laws. Even if he knew Thorpe was guilty, a jury had acquitted him. He explains that his book “may be read, if people choose, as a gesture of atonement for ever having entertained the silly idea that a Privy Councillor, an MP, an Old Etonian, a barrister, a friend of prime ministers, archbishops and high officials, a former client of Lord Goodman, could ever be found guilty of conspiring to murder a homosexual male model of lower-middle class background and doubtful record.”

This is England, after all!

Socialist Struggle in Sri Lanka

This article appeared in Lakbima News on Sunday May 1 2011.

There used to be a series of ads on British TV for a range of do-it-yourself products. An actor playing the role of a horny-handed son of toil would fix the viewer with a surly gaze and, thrusting a can of varnish at the camera, intone menacingly: “It does just what it says on the tin!”

I recently bought a book titled Struggle for Socialism: The Role of the Communist Party in Sri Lanka edited by Wiswa Warnapala. It does not do what it says on the cover.

warna
As someone with leftish inclinations who has chosen to make his home in Sri Lanka, I am interested in the part played in this island nation by various sections of the left. I paid good money for this book, as I believed it would enlighten me. It did not.

 
The book is a strange production altogether. It is difficult to establish how Professor Warnapala has “edited” it in any normal sense of the term. The book is riddled with typos and spelling mistakes – a blurred photo of Peter Keuneman is captioned “Peter Kenuman.” Although the professor gives the ritual thanks to his typist and publisher, they have not done him any favours. Does no one employ a proofreader anymore?

The professor states that pamphlets and tracts produced by leading figures in the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) and the Communist Party of Sri Lanka (CPSL) “constituted an important part of the political literature of the country.” That may well be true, but it is not helpful to just deposit steaming chunks of this stuff between the covers of a book and leave it to readers to sort it all out.

Pages 41 to 608 are a mess. For example, do we really need to know CPSL receipts and expenditure for 1965?

 
Professor Warnapala thanks various members of the Communist Party, such as DEW Gunasekera, for helping him locate the material. He does not give us any guidance on the material – there are no notes, no index, no information about when the material was first written or published. There is no afterword setting the whole thing in context and explaining the relevance of the CPSL today.

“As a party of the Government and the  Opposition, the Communist Party played an effective role in Sri Lankan politics from the point of view of its ideology. It is this fundamental aspect which needs discussion.” It is not discussed in any depth throughout the book, although Professor Warnapala provides a workmanlike, if repetitive, introduction.

 

‘Not much seems to have changed’

 

Although the book purports to be a collection of “essays” by Dr SA Wickremasinghe, MG Mendis, Pieter Keuneman and P Kandiah, these are not essays in any normal sense of the term. Most of the Kandiah material is a long extract from Hansard recording what he had to say about the language issue in 1956. This does indicate that Kandiah was a better parliamentarian than today’s crop, but it is not an essay. Dr Wickremasinghe has some interesting things to say about how the UNP’s economic plans immediately after independence maintained what the colonial power put in place.

Not much seems to have changed today: “Our capitalists … have engaged, not in production, but in the provision of services. Small men that they are, they lack skill, vision experience and prosper only so long as those on whom they depend also prosper. The soil in which they grow is the soil prepared by the alien exploiter for his own benefit.”
Wickremasinghe makes good points about how the monoculture of tea took up land that could have been more productive if used to grow food or provide pasture, and about deforestation and soil erosion, which leads to excessive flooding. He does not link this with the role of the CPSL.
The British satirical magazine Private Eye has been bursting bubbles of pomposity since the early 60s. One of the Eye’s great comic creations is the all-purpose lefty agitator Dave Spart.

Spartism has entered the English language. The Urban Dictionary defines a Spartist as: “An individual who observes Marxist theory to the exclusion of all else. Often condemns most things in society and the world with meaningless far left-wing dogma, and often ends up in logical cycles and jumping to conclusions in the process. Such people claim to be progressive, but are as backward thinking, unimaginative, hare-brained and colourless as the leaders of the former Soviet Union and Communist Eastern Europe.”

 
There is a lot of Spartism in this book. One should beware of feeling superior to Dr Wickremasinghe from our vantage point in 2011. Even in the 1970s, clever western academics like Joan Robinson and C Wright Mills were telling us that capitalism was dead and that China and Cuba had established utopias that other countries should copy. Today, we know that millions died because of Mao’s insane schemes like the Great Leap Forward.

 

Dr Wickremasinghe might not be expected to know about this in the 1950s. However, he should have known enough about Stalin’s crimes to prevent himself writing: “the magnificent and immortal leader of progressive mankind, JV Stalin laid bare the basic economic law of capitalism in its decaying, imperialist stage…This brilliant and profound definition of Stalin helps us to find out the basic reasons for the present economic plight of Ceylon.”

 

Khrushchev ousted Stalin in 1956 but the USSR continued to do dirty deeds. As we watch events unfold in the Middle East, let us not forget that the Soviet Union brutally put down revolts in East Germany (1953), Poland (1956), Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1978).

 

The role of the Communist Party

 

Pieter Keuneman bizarrely states: “On the global scale, the Regan (sic) administration still adheres to the dangerous illusion that it can attain military superiority over socialism and break the parity between the USSR and the USA.” He mocks US leaders who sought to “roll back communism.” Only two years later, the USSR was defunct. This does not say much for Keuneman’s political acumen or foresight.

keuneman
What then was the role of the Communist Party in Sri Lanka? Back to Professor Warnapala’s introduction. “It was the Communist party which consistently campaigned and fought for left unity.” Professor Warnapala quotes historian Kumari Jayawardene as saying that the country needed a political party that could give leadership to the anti-imperialistic struggle and the working class movement.

 

However, it was the LSSP, not the CP that took on this dual role. The CP was formed in 1943 because some felt the LSSP was too disapproving of Stalinism, veering towards Trotskyism, and placed too much emphasis on social welfare rather than “scientific” economic development.
Professor Warnapala claims that the “electoral agreement of 1960 galvanized all the left progressive forces into a common struggle against the UNP.” This mantra is repeated many times in the introduction – “the Communist Party, which always campaigned for broader unity within the left movement.” Did this campaigning achieve unity on the left?

Full Spart mode

DEW Gunasekera was in full Spart mode when addressing the 19th Congress of the CPSL in September 2010. “We salute the ruling Communist Parties of China, Vietnam, Cuba, Korea, Laos for their ideological contribution against neo-liberalism and for their significant achievements enhancing their national strength and international prestige… We must strengthen our base – the Working Class Base. We must protect our social base. We must sharpen the ideological struggle against neo-liberalism… Though Socialism is a long-term perspective, we must relentlessly carry forward our struggle to defend and promote Socialism. We must strengthen our fraternal relations with the Left forces at Regional and International level. Long Live the Communist Party of Sri Lanka!”

dewgunasekara1
This is the man who, after opposing the 18th Amendment, voted for it and joined the government. This is the man who, in February 2011, he said the country had been failed by politicians over corruption. “All of us should be ashamed. There is an urgent need to take remedial action to restore confidence in the public sector.”

 

Vintage Sleaze Part 3 Robert Boothby

I was an obstreperous teenager in the 1960s. This was the time of The Beatles, the Stones, and Dylan. My contemporaries and I thought we were as smart as they were. The satirical magazine Private Eye was there to blow a raspberry at any deference to authority. David Frost and his team on BBC ridiculed politicians. Peter Cook did a devastating imitation of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan: “Britain’s role in the world is that of honest broker. Never was a nation more honest. Never was a nation broker”. Macmillan told us we had “never had it so good”. True, there was relative comfort after the austerity of the post-war years but we were not in a mood to be grateful to Macmillan. He was an easy figure to mock, with his damp-looking moustache and the drooping bags under his eyes.

In retrospect, he seems a giant compared to Cameron, Osborne Mandelson and the Milibands. Today’s politicians have zero experience of real life, going straight from think tank to government without doing a proper job or having any experience of ordinary life. Macmillan came from a privileged background. He worked in the family publishing house, whose authors included Charles Kingsley, Thomas Hardy, WB Yeats and Sean O’Casey. He was educated at Eton and Balliol, Oxford. However, he began his real education in the First World War and found fulfilment and self-confidence in the army. He was wounded five times. He lay in no-man’s land for a whole day with a shattered pelvis surrounded by the dead. It was not until 1920 that the wound healed and it gave him pain and a shuffling walk for the rest of his life. He saw 70,000 men killed in one day on the Somme. He loathed Herbert Morrison, (Peter Mandelson’s grandfather), for having been a conscientious objector in the First World War, calling him “a dirty little cockney guttersnipe”.

He acquired a political concern for the lives of ordinary people. He went into politics at the age of 30 as the Conservative MP for Stockton-on-Tees, where most of the workers voted Tory and Macmillan was the workers’ candidate. At the worst point of the slump, almost half the male population of Stockton was unemployed. He viewed his constituents with the same paternal eyes as he viewed his troops during the war.

In parliament, he became associated with a group of youngish Conservatives known as the YMCA. This group, which included Robert Boothby, campaigned for government intervention to revive industry and bring work to the unemployed. Boothby and Macmillan were also together in a group of Conservatives who supported Churchill in his fight against appeasement of Hitler. In his 1967 biography of Macmillan, Anthony Sampson comments archly: “Macmillan was much less brilliant than the fascinating Boothby, his rival in many fields; but he was more consistent”. Boothby had also been at Eton and Oxford (Magdalen).

Macmillan married Lady Dorothy Cavendish, the daughter of the 9th Duke of Devonshire, on 21 April 1920. She spent her childhood at Chatsworth House and Lismore Castle. Her nephew William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington married Kathleen, a sister of John F Kennedy.

harold_mcamillan_and_dorothy_postcard

In 1929, Lady Dorothy began a lifelong affair with Boothby, an arrangement that remained unknown to the public but was no secret in the circles Macmillan moved in. Dorothy said to Boothby: “Why did you ever wake me? I never want to see any of my family again”’. She had four young children at the time: Maurice Macmillan, Viscount Macmillan of Ovenden (1921–1984), Lady Caroline Faber (born 1923), Lady Catherine Amery (1926–1991), Sarah Heath (1930–1970). Dorothy was virtually living with Boothby for five years while she taunted Macmillan that Sarah was Boothby’s child. The stress caused by this may have contributed to Macmillan’s nervous breakdown in 1931. There were rumours that he had attempted suicide. Macmillan’s solicitor Philip Frere pointed out that divorce would be fatal for his political career. Until she died in 1966 – suddenly, of a heart attack as she was putting on her boots to go out to a point-to-point meeting– if they were both at Birch Grove, Macmillan’s house in Sussex, they would meet for dinner and then go their separate ways. Years later, Boothby described her as “on the whole, the most selfish and possessive woman I have ever known”. He also said: ‘She had thighs like hams and hands like a stevedore. She reminded me of a caddy I once seduced on the golf course at St Andrews”.

dotand jackie

One hopes that Macmillan got some solace from his relationship with Eileen O’Casey, the wife of playwright Sean O’Casey. In front of me, I have her memoir Cheerio Titan! The pictures show that she was a beautiful woman. She does not mention Macmillan in the book but there has long been speculation that they were in love with each other. She was born in the same year, 1900, as Dorothy but did not die until 1995.

sean_ocasey_wedding

In 1975, Macmillan went to see Boothby and asked to know the truth one way or another about Sarah. Boothby assured him that Sarah was not a Boothby because he was always scrupulously careful in his affairs. The writer and broadcaster Sir Ludovic Kennedy (Boothby was a cousin of his mother) has asserted that Boothby fathered at least three children by the wives of other men.

boothby

Boothby was not, in reality, a careful man. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was impossible to escape his booming voice. He seemed to be on Any Questions? on the radio every week. Lady Violet Bonham Carter recalled appearing on the programme in 1953. Boothby gave her a lift to Minehead in his Jaguar. She noticed a “stowaway” in the back – Tom Driberg MP. Boothby also took to television as a self-confident and flamboyant performer.

Despite his relationship with Dorothy, Boothby was a promiscuous bisexual at a time when male homosexual activity was a criminal offence. He did not start to have physical relationships with women until the age of 25. From 1954, he campaigned publicly for homosexual law reform.

John Pearson, biographer of the gangsters, the Kray twins, wrote:”Behind the famous bow-tied public figure with his unmistakeable deep voice and a fund of good stories was a drunk, a liar, a reckless gambler and a bisexual.”In 1963, Boothby began an illicit affair with East End cat burglar Leslie Holt, a younger man he met at a gambling club. Holt introduced him to Ronald Kray, who supplied Boothby with young men and arranged orgies in Cedra Court, receiving personal favours from Boothby in return.

boothby-kray-and-holt

The Conservative Party was unwilling to press the police to end the Krays’ power for fear the Boothby connection would be publicised. The Labour Party MP Tom Driberg was also rumoured to have had a relationship with Ronnie Kray. When the underworld connections of Boothby and Driberg were about to be revealed in the Daily Mirror, Labour PM Harold Wilson’s lawyer Lord Goodman got to work. At Goodman’s personal dictation, Boothby wrote: “I have never been to all-male parties in Mayfair. I have met the man alleged to be King of the Underworld (Ron Kray) only three times, on business matters. I am not, and never have been, homosexual.”

 

Both Kray twins were bisexual and they knew all the secrets of Boothby’s sordid double-life. Neither Ronnie nor Boothby wanted sex with grown men. Their preference was young men aged between 16 and 18, and Ron had his very own supply to share. John Pearson coyly writes that Boothby’s particular perversions were “too shocking to describe in a newspaper even now” but hints at sado-masochism. In 2009, a British television documentary, The Gangster and the Pervert Peer, showed that Ronnie Kray was a man-on-man rapist. The Krays used their information about Boothby to win favours from him.

NPG x126471; Ronald ('Ronnie') Kray; Robert John Graham Boothby, Baron Boothby by Unknown photographer

The Mirror backed down, sacked its editor, apologised, and paid Boothby £40,000 (a million in today’s money) in an out-of-court settlement. Journalists who investigated Boothby were subjected to legal threats and break-ins. The press became less willing to cover the Krays’ criminal activities, which continued unchecked.

It was a puzzle why Goodman, with his close Labour Party connections, came to represent the arch-Conservative Boothby. When, in 1968, Pearson asked Boothby to explain this conundrum, he told Pearson it was on the instructions of “the little man” – Harold Wilson. Cabinet papers later revealed that Wilson was seriously worried that Driberg – one of his oldest and most trusted friends in politics, a man he would eventually ennoble and make chairman of the Labour Party –  would be drawn into the affair.

goodman

John Pearson wrote: “What nobody appeared to notice, however, was that Goodman’s actions had not only given the law’s protection to an elderly ennobled catamite, but also to a psychotic and potentially homicidal gangster.”Over the next four years, their megalomaniac violence would be rampant. They killed George Cornell, Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie, the ‘Mad Axeman’ Frank Mitchell and Teddy Smith, a one-time boyfriend of Driberg.

The Krays were eventually arrested on 9 May 1968. They were convicted in 1969 thanks to the efforts of Detective Superintendent Leonard “Nipper” Read. Once the Krays were in custody, many witnesses came forward. Both were sentenced to life imprisonment. Ronnie was probably a paranoid schizophrenic and remained in Broadmoor Hospital until his death on 17 March 1995. In 1988, Jimmy Savile was appointed by Edwina Currie as head of a task force to sort out the union at the hospital. Reggie was released from prison on compassionate grounds in August 2000, eight weeks before his death from cancer.

According to The Gangster and the Pervert Peer, over 40 years later, recently discovered documents from the public records office suggest that other public figures were influenced by the Kray twins, but have never been brought to justice.

tom-driberg-marries-ena-binfield-1951

 

Driberg marries!

The Boothby (and Driberg) story shows that connections between politicians and criminals is nothing new. We should also not be surprised when the elites, of whatever party, use connections, cover-ups and intimidation to suppress the truth. I can recommend Francis Wheen’s excellent biography of Driberg.

 

 

 

 

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