Mary Whitehouse versus PIE and the Home Office (1978)

Cardinal Basil Hume’s role in supporting Mary Whitehouse’s campaign is highlighted here. Important to note.

What Can I Do About It?

Mary Whitehouse, Merlyn Rees (Home Secretary), Geoffrey Dickens MP Mary Whitehouse, Merlyn Rees (Home Secretary), Geoffrey Dickens MP

Chapter 13 of Mary Whitehouse’s 1982 autobiography, “A Most Dangerous Woman” discusses her fight to bring in new legislation to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse. She describes how the Home Office (headed by Merlyn Rees), the Director of Public Prosecutions (Sir Thomas Hetherington), and the Attorney General (Samuel Silkin) showed a “consistent unwillingness to take action”, even after 1.6 million signatures had been gathered from the public. It was only through the use of a Private Member’s Bill by Cyril Townsend MP and the campaigning by Mary Whitehouse and her colleagues that the Protection of Children Act 1978 was passed. More information on the Act is available here. The debate is recorded in Hansard here.

At the same time as the Home Office was “unwilling to take action” in 1978, we know…

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