Month: November 2014

Trevor Huddleston & Others: Famous Mr X and the Rule of Law

Published ten years ago, Piers McGrandle’s biography of Trevor Huddleston gives another insight into the rule of law in operation when applied to those with a reputation deemed valuable enough to protect. [Scroll down for Chapter 24: ‘Collapse’ pp 151 – 160 at the bottom of this post]

In September 1979 on BBC Radio 4’s Talking Law programme, Labour Attorney General Sir Samuel Silkin (under Wilson and then Callaghan  during 1974 – 1979) referred to to one case in particular, admitting that special consideration had been given to the plight of the famous (see p. 156  Trevor Huddleston: Turbulent Priest, Pier McGrandle below):

“I won’t name the man for obvious reasons. The Director of Public Prosecutions came to me about some allegation in relation to small boys. Although it was entirely within his province, it was something which he could ask the Attorney whether to prosecute or not, he said.

I found that I was in difficulty as the man was very well known. If he had been prosecuted at all it would have ruined his career and his influence. Within the DPP’s department everyone though he would be acquitted though there was clearly evidence.”

This view chimes in tone and content with Sir David Napley’s later 1981 press-reported defence of his client, Sir Peter Hayman, and the decision of Attorney general Sir Michael Havers and DPP Sir Thomas Hetherington in deciding not to prosecute (ignoring for the moment Havers’ tortuous attempt to gloss the Post Office Act with some casuistic reasoning applied to what constitutes ‘solicitation’).

Napley asserted a ‘customary factor’ existed for prosecutors to consider when exercising their discretion whether to prosecute or not, namely:

“whether the indirect punishment and hardship which a defendant may suffer is likely to be so disproportionate to the severity of the alleged offence and to any penalty imposed by a court that it would be unjust to prosecute.” [The Questions Unanswered in the Hayman case, The Times, Ronald Butt, 26 March 1981]

If this was an accurate representation as to how prosecutorial discretion was exercised in relation to those with reputations considered worth protecting, it suggests we’ve been making a mockery of Dicey’s second tenet of the rule of law for some time – “none shall be above it” – since it divides the rule of law into applying to those with fame and those without. And the rule of law, divided, is by definition, no longer the rule of law. It ceases to exist conceptually.

There is an undeniable suggestion of a prevailing legal view at the time circulating amongst the government’s Law Officers and highly regarded lawyers such as Napley (former President of the Law Society) that those with fame apparently bear an additional burden for the prosecution to consider – a reputation that could be lost. For the rest of us mere mortals, our everyday ignominy would mean prosecutorial discretion doesn’t need to weigh fame or reputation in the balance.

When Napley’s customary factor is applied to exercising prosecutorial discretion in the case of a well-known accused like Hayman, the severity of the alleged offence is positioned inversely and directly on the scales in opposition to the size or magnitude of the accused’s celebrity or reputation (and it must be emphasised potential, but not conclusive, loss thereof as a result of a mere allegation, let alone a not guilty verdict following prosecution) in addition to any penalty imposed by a court. Therefore, the mere fact a well-known accused has a reputation to lose can weigh disproportionately in their favour, acting as a cloak or shield from due process or prosecution. In a double whammy, the more socially taboo the nature of the crime alleged, the more potential damage to a reputation if prosecuted unsuccessfully, despite and especially where the allegations relate to child abuse related offences.

However, considering the after-effects of prosecution for sexual abuse of young boys in context of the following:

(1) Sir Ian Horobin MPs (Con: Oldham East) ebullient bounceback from his 1962 conviction by publishing a poetry anthology with a foreword by John Betjeman in 1973 (nb. the curiously mournful comment ‘Even the elms are dead’), written during post-prison recuperation in Tangiers where boys could be preyed upon;  and

(2) Charles Hornby’s successful application for a gun licence just over six months after his release from prison for his part in the Playland Piccadilly Amusement Arcade Trial of 1975, granted by a Recorder who didn’t need to recuse themselves over a dinner party or two,

it appears the ill-effects of ‘loss of reputation’ can be very much countered by one’s well-placed friends rallying around so that life and even reputations may resume post-prosecution.

1974: Trevor Huddleston and John Junor’s spiked article

As a priest in Johannesburg Trevor Huddlestone had challenged the government’s apartheid policy during the 1950s becoming a leading light in the anti-apartheid movement. But by 1974 Trevor Huddleston, was an Anglican ‘suffragan’ Bishop of Stepney in the Diocese of London, and member of the Anglican religious order of the Community of the Resurrection since 1941 (Mirfield, West Yorkshire).

In 1970 Dr Huddleston found time to launch Islington’s Council of Social Service, a voluntary body established to promote the co-operation of voluntary and statutory services and the encouragement of linking together voluntary services


Islington Gazette, September 1970


On 3 April 1974 a mother had made allegations that Huddleston had sexually harassed her two schoolage sons. The recently appointed Bishop of London, Gerald Ellison, son of a former royal chaplain and avowed monarchist (in contrast to Huddleston) rallied round. Following an interview with the police in Trevor’s office the police indicated the matter would be left on the files and that a report had been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (Sir Norman Skelhorn). Trevor pleaded exhaustion and the Bishop “forwarded a plan to the DPP, saying that he hoped that a decison could be reached quickly because of the tremendous strain both on Trevor and the diocese which needed leadership.”

John Junor of the Sunday Express had sight of the papers prepared by the police and a story was prepared to go to print, with the advice of the Sunday Express legal adviser. However, the Bishop of London got in contact with the Prebendary Dewi Morgan, the rector of St Brides (the beautiful church behind Reuters old HQ on 65 Fleet Street, opposite the majestic black gloss art deco former offices of the Daily Express) who knew Junor through Fleet Street to set up a meeting because “Trevor’s sanity and life were at stake.”

” Junor told Morgan that he had seen the papers and was sure that Trevor was guilty. Later on that day, a version of the story was read out to Dewi Morgan by the Sunday Express legal adviser, the gist of which was intended to scupper trevor’s chances of ever beng promoted to Canterbury. In the event, the story was spiked – much to the relief of Trevor and his friends.” (p.154, Piers McGrandle on Huddleston)

While Trevor recuperated at a friend’s in Richmond, and then to stay at a friend’s holiday house in Scotland, cancelling all engagements until mid-September 1974, things did die down. However, 18 months later Private Eye published on Friday 20 August 1976:

“Sir Robert Mrk has been to see the Bishop of London, Gerald Ellison, over a most delicate matter. It seems that Sir Robert has become concerned over reports from his men about the activities of a certain London churchman. The pillar of the church, who has many coloured immigrants in his diocese, has been engaging in activities of a highly-specilaised, not to say illegal, nature. I will keep you posted about developments.”

Nothing more was reported until Sir Sam Silkin decided to speak frankly to BBC Radio 4 about the difficulties of prosecuting the famous, which was immediately picked up on by the Daily Mirror’s front page as ‘Famous Mr X and the Law’:


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“Silkin was then pursued by reporters from rival papers, asking whether Mr X was not a named politician, whose contacts with the police were chronicled. Silkin denied that the man was Smith and added that he was not an MP at all. But Mr Silkin did add that Mr X ‘was a well-known figure in community work” (p.156 Huddleston) prompting John Junor to write in his column during October:

“Former Attorney General Mr Sam Silkin must have known that he would be unleashing a storm of speculation when he revealed that during his term of office a man prominent in public life had escaped prosecution for sex offences against children because Mr Silkin and the then Director of Public Prosecution had agreed that he was likely to be acquitted – but would have been ruined by court proceedings.

For that could be another way of saying that the prominent man was not necessarily innocent, but that in any court proceedings it would have been his word against the word of the little children and that a jury would almost certainly have accepted his word.

So who was the man? To being with, the rumours centered quite unfairly on a well-known MP. Now it is suggested that he was someone high up in the heirarchy of the Church of England. Mr Silkin may still be unwilling to give name. But, if it were a churchman, should he not be prepared to tell us that in return for non-prosecution he was given an assurance that if the man concerned remained in the priesthood, he would never again be in a position in which he had to deal with children either in England or overseas?”

Interesting to note that Rochdale’s Alternative Press (RAP) publication regarding the allegations against Cyril Smith were actually denied by Silkin as being relevant to Mr X (being Huddleston) – did Silkin make any other reported comments regarding the decision not to prosecute Smith at the time to journalists?

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Readers Letters, Daily Mirror, 1 October 1979


Huddleston’s obituary (written by former Albany Trustee Michael de-la-Noy) for the Independent stated Trevor was moved from Stepney to the Indian Ocean of Mauritius in 1978 to ‘hush up a scandal which will raise a few eyebrows today.”

All the South African intelligence service BOSS’s files on Trevor had been shredded according to Canon Eric James who searched for them when writing his biography of Huddleston during the 1990s.



Cover: Trevor Huddleston by Piers McGrandle (Continuum: London) 2004
















Errors and Omissions in the Wanless/Whittam Report


I’ve been made aware of several errors and omissions in the Wanless/Whittam report. Many of them are related to the search terms that were used. The search terms list Charles Napier aka Roger Nash, but Roger Nash was actually the alias of Peter Bremner, who was another member of the Paedophile Information Exchange’s executive committee. See evidence of Bremner using the alias Roger Nash from the Guardian articles reproduced below.

Extract from Peter Wanless/Richard Whittam Review, Annex D nash The Guardian, 14th November 1984 Times141184The Guardian, 19th November 1984 G191184 Sticking with the search terms, there are a number of other serious errors and omissions:

– Warren Middleton was also known as John Parratt, so any documents that made references to Parratt will not have been found by Wanless/Whittam. (Source: Guardian 15.07.11)

– Steven Adrian Smith also used the names Steven Adrian and Steven Freeman. (Source: Guardian 15.07.11)

– Peter Bremner’s…

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Strange Days: How paedophile pressure groups were allowed to lobby and infiltrate the Home Office


Strange Days (published with many thanks to the author who wishes to remain anonymous)

As we await publication of the Wanless/Whittam review, here are some brief sentences on the strange atmosphere that allowed groups calling for the decriminalization of paedophilia to lobby and infiltrate the Home Office.

It was an era of turbulence and change. Things now illegal had yet to be so defined; and things then illegal had not yet been repealed. Laws and ideas relating to sex were bitterly fought over. Many paedophiles felt emboldened in such an atmosphere and thought their moment had come.

Their lobby, presented as part of broader liberation movements, was said to stand for modernity and common sense. This actually convinced some people. One editor of Gay News claimed that: “We were fighting against a lot of outmoded laws, and perhaps the ones against paedophilia were as outmoded as those against homosexuality or…

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Barbara Castle: A Portrait from Life by Wilfred De’Ath (Clifton Books: 1970)

With all the recent discussion of Barbara Castle’s missing dossiers I was reminded of a book I’d seen (see below) and a missing autobiography I had yet to find: ‘Uncommon Criminal’ by Wilfred De’Ath.

Published in 1970, Barbara Castle: A Portrait from Life was at least a decade in advance of Castle’s dossiers coming into existence. However, the author of Barbara Castle: A Portrait from Life,  De’Ath most recently appeared on television screens with a cameo role in ITV’s Exposure: The Dark Side of Savile  [broadcast on 3 October 2012] and a subsequent arrest and release without charge by Operation Yewtree [I’ve led a VERY wicked life: Wilfred de’Ath, BBC producer, thief and vagrant on going from riches to rags, Ginny Dougary, Evening Standard, 3 April 2013]

A number of Savile’s former colleagues interviewed for the documentary admitted that his predatory behaviour towards young girls was an open secret at the BBC. Wilfred De’Ath, who worked with Savile in the 1960s, told of how he spoke to a girl he believed to be 12 years old while she was in bed with the presenter the morning after he had seen Savile with her at a restaurant, describing her as like a “little lost soul”. De’Ath admitted that it was “common gossip” that Savile was an abuser. Still, it appears that neither he nor any other colleagues reported him either to the BBC bosses or police. [Jimmy Savile case: when will we start listening to children who are abused? Julie Bindel, The Guardian, 1 October 2012]

Wilfred De’Ath, a former producer of Jimmy Savile’s on the BBC radio show Teen Scene, has explained his experiences of the DJ’s behaviour.

He said:

He had a reputation, he had a shocking reputation for young women, but it was all hearsay, I didn’t know whether to believe it or not.

So I turned up at the Lotus House, I think it was on a Friday evening and there he was sitting on a banquette with this very young girl, I would guess she was twelve if you’d ask me to guess.

I asked him where he’d found her, I said ‘where did you pick her up?’ And he said ‘Oh Top of the Pops’.

And I said, I remember saying ‘Is that your happy hunting ground?’ and he said ‘Yes’.


Wilfred De’Ath was a young Oxford-educated BBC producer working on radio talk show Teen Scene when he first encountered Savile. Mr De’Ath, now 75, appears on the ITV programme and was also interviewed by The Mail on Sunday. He said he was stunned when Savile invited him to a Chinese restaurant called The Lotus House, a popular celebrity haunt in London, where he found the DJ sitting on a banquette with a young girl.

‘He told me he had met the girl – who was small and waif-like – on Top Of The Pops the night before. She was very young, I’d say near to 12.

‘Savile arranged to meet me in a London hotel called The Mascot, which was a very seedy place off Baker Street, the next day. When I called up to his room he told me that he was in bed with the girl I’d met the night before and he even got her to talk to me on the phone. I remember her saying, “Hello Mr Producer”. I didn’t want to carry on talking.

‘I told him he was living incredibly dangerously and he replied, “No, no, no, I’m far too valuable to the BBC for anything to happen to me”.

‘It appeared to be generally accepted that he was usually in the company of young girls. I know it sounds cowardly, but there was the feeling that if I grassed to the top end of the BBC then I would have been out.’ [ Daily Mail, 28 September 2012]


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From the inside back above:

“Wilfred De’Ath was born in 1937 and educated at Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet and Oriel College Oxford. From 1961 till 1965 he worked as a BBC producer, mainly in radio, and earned a reputation for uncompromising work in the documentary and talks field. In 1966 he published Just Me and Nobody Else an outspoken study of a juvenile delinquent, which was based on one of his broadcasts. He now works as a freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing regularly to Punch and the Illustrated London News and occasionally to the Sunday Times, the Guardian , Woman, Good Housekeeping, Books and Bookmen,  as well as to The Listener and the whole range of BBC radio output. His recent interview subjects have included Lord Hill, Lord Stokes, Lord Butler, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Vic Feather, Kenneth More, Daphne Du Maurier and Clive Jenkins. He enjoys meeting famous people and is unashamedly celebrity-struck. He is married with two children, aged six and two and lives in Hampstead, where he may be seen walking on the Heath on almost any Saturday or Sunday.”

However, within 8 years of publishing his portrait of Castle (a series of interviews with her, her friends and colleagues and a personal impression to finish), De’Ath had left his Hampstead family life behind him:

‘De’Ath’s marriage broke down in 1978, when he says his wife went off with her Open University tutor: “I am not very good at cherishing and she felt neglected. I was BBC correspondent for Radio 4 in San Francisco and New York; I used to be away so much — sometimes for as much as five months in a year.”

What made him go off the rails so spectacularly? “Well, when I left my home in Hampstead, everything went wrong at once,” he says. “My career collapsed and I lost my family.” A libel suit, where he wrote an article for the local paper — the Ham and High — accusing nine BBC colleagues of being “intellectual pygmies”, led to him losing his case [even though he was represented by the heavyweight Lord Goodman] and having to pay out £4,500, “which may not sound much, but it was all the money I had — so I had nowhere to live and things just went from bad to worse”.’ I’ve led a VERY wicked life: Wilfred de’Ath, BBC producer, thief and vagrant on going from riches to rags, Ginny Dougary, Evening Standard, 3 April 2013


MI5 Recruitee & Uncommon Criminal, Wilfred de’Ath, Timewell Press, 2008

Despite having an ISBN the British Library don’t have a copy, and despite Timewell Press being listed as publishers in 2008, de’Ath himself states in his April 2013 interview with Dougarry the book has yet to be published so no wonder I can’t find it:

“Far more fascinating than the Yewtree connection, for me, is the story of how a young man with such a promising future ahead of him came to be an “uncommon criminal” (the title of his memoir, yet to find a publisher), sleeping rough for several decades, in France and the UK, having lost his family, his job and his home.”

The precis of the memoir takes pains to mention de’Ath is “a self-confessed voyeur who was recruited by MI5 to befriend a Russian spy at an orgy.”

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“Born in 1937, Wilfred De’Ath’s outwardly conventional early life in suburban London was dominated by the overpowering puritanism and fanatical patriotism of his mother, the daughter of a German pastor. In the De’Ath household Hitler was idolised and every German victory heartily celebrated. On shopping expeditions with his mother during the Blitz, young Wilfred had to endure the spectacle of his mother giving Nazi salutes and shouting ‘Heil Hitler!’ to her friend and compatriot, Mrs Maybury.

This singular upbringing may account for De’Ath’s subsequent ill treatment of his own family and the abandonment of a charmed career in journalism which brought him much acclaim for his interviews with figures as diverse as Mick Jagger, Margaret Thatcher, John Lennon, PG Wodehouse and the Archbishop of Canterbury and as a ground-breaking radio and television producer (one of his discoveries was Kenny Everett). Instead he chose a life of vagrancy and petty crime totting up ten years behind bars in the process not to mention his lifelong twin obsessions with sex and religion.

A self-confessed voyeur who was recruited by MI5 to befriend a Russian spy at an orgy, De’Ath was a sexual predator whose victims included Susanna York, Sarah Miles, Julie Christie, Julia Foster and Charlotte Rampling. A godless but enthusiastic churchgoer, he made a career out of exposing the peccadilloes of Anglican clergymen in Private Eye, whose editor, his Oxford contemporary Richard Ingrams, later commissioned a long-running column in the Oldie retailing his experiences at the hands of plodding policemen, mad magistrates, crazy criminals and sadistic screws. In Uncommon Criminal an unrepentant sinner looks back at his deplorable but colourful life with a candour bordering on relish which will disgust and delight in equal measure.”

What MI5 (Home Office) knew about MI6 (Foreign Office) and vice-versa should prove interesting in relation to Exaro reporting Sir Peter Hayman and Sir Maurice Oldfield (where does Sir Michael Oldfield Havers get his Oldfield from?) as Head and Deputy of MI6.

As an MI5 recruitee de’Ath might not have felt inclined to report to the top brass in the BBC re Savile but whether he could have, if so inclined, reported on Savile to MI5 along with reporting back from the orgy about the Russian spy, is a different question entirely. Information always has a value. And 1978 was the year a lot of people were discovered to have “gone off the rails”, such as Viscount Mersey’s son, Richard Bigham and of course, Sir Peter Hayman following the raid on his Notting Hill Mr Henderson flat.

I hope Mr De’Ath finds a more willing publisher soon if Timewell can’t tell.