Albany Trust, Access, Peter Righton, Dr Robert Chartham (aka Ronald Seth) and MI5

Antony Grey’s 1992 ‘ Quest for Justice: Towards Homosexual Emancipation’ makes but one mention of Peter Righton by name (see below) but by 1971 Peter Righton was very involved with counselling work at the Albany Trust bringing him into contact with many important and influential people, as had his employment as lecturer for MA Social Work for the National Institute of Social Work (NISW – Room 11).

Antony Grey: Quest for Justice, Loc 3318/6001

Antony Grey: Quest for Justice, Loc 3318/6001

Antony Grey: Quest for Justice, Loc 3318/6001 – Peter Righton compiled York Social Needs Conference 1970 survey, published by NCSS Bedford Square Press 1973

During 1971 there was a curious incident which looks a lot like an attempt at a coup to gain control of the Trust’s counselling casefiles, providing valuable blackmail material in alternative hands. When the then Director, Michael De La Noy, dismissed the one paid member of staff (Doreen Cordell, a social worker from Streatham) and called a Chubb locksmith to break into the filing cabinets, Doreen vowed to fight for her 3 months’ pay in lieu of notice and when she won, use it to fund 3 months of her time continuing with her counselling casework privately.

This she did, by which time she’d become so close to Peter Righton (who’d spent time with her over Christmas 1970 at the Trust’s Shaftesbury Avenue offices counselling clients when De La Noy had first arrived – prior to Doreen’s dismissal) that by May 1971, together they’d resolved to set up an alternative counselling charity to take over Albany Trust’s counselling work. The counselling charity was called ACCESS – designed to embrace and support ‘Total Sexuality’. Righton was its Chairman and Cordell its Secretary.

Joint letter from Peter Righton & Doreen Cordell re ACCESS, 11 May 1971

Joint letter from Peter Righton & Doreen Cordell re ACCESS, 11 May 1971

Invitees to June 1971 ACCESS meeting including Dr Robert Chartham

Invitees to June 1971 ACCESS meeting including Dr Robert Chartham

Agenda for June 1971 inaugural meeting of ACCESS, Peter Righton Chairman

Agenda for June 1971 inaugural meeting of ACCESS, Peter Righton Chairman

One of the eight invitees to the inaugural meeting  was a Dr Robert Chartham of Ashford Kent. Along with Dr Theo Schlicht (whose son was Australian painter Rollin Schlicht) and Dr Charlotte Wolff (who later became an Albany Trustee), Dr Chartham  was named on the draft Charitable Trust Deed for ACCESS.

ACCESS Charitable Trust Deed

ACCESS Charitable Trust Deed

ACCESS charitable trust deed p.2

ACCESS charitable trust deed p.2

Dr Robert Chartham was considered to be a ‘sexologist’ and became Consultant Editor to Bob Guccione’s Penthouse Forum where he advertised methods for penis enlargement and erectile dysfunction such as vacuum pumps. These methods were challenged as a fraudulent scam in the States, resulting in a June 1977 decision against Dr Chartham’s claims.

However, Chartham’s real name was Ronald Sydney Seth as detailed in a recent article by PhD Candidate at the University of East Anglia,  Ben Wheatley, published in November 2013 in the Journal of Intelligence History

Picture 7


Ben Wheatley’s article precis tells us:

MI5’s investigation of Ronald Sydney Seth, SOE’s Agent Blunderhead and the SD’s Agent 22D: Loyal British agent or Nazi double agent?

This article charts the colourful wartime career of Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent Ronald Sydney Seth and presents for the first time the subsequent investigation into his wartime conduct by MI5. Seth, as Agent Blunderhead, was parachuted into German-occupied Estonia late in 1942 to destroy the country’s vital shale oil plants. Upon landing, Seth was swiftly captured and offered to work for the Germans as a double agent. In April 1945, Seth was sent over the German border into Switzerland as SD Agent 22D, where he promptly presented the British with sensational peace terms from Himmler. This article presents the British security services’ remarkable conclusions and indicates that, in their opinion, Seth was ‘spiritually so much under German domination that he intends to work for an Anglo-German understanding and an anti-Russian policy after the war’, had ‘not told us all about the services he rendered to the Germans’, was of ‘unbalanced character and rabidly anti-Soviet’, ‘extremely untruthful’, prone to ‘megalomania’ and that ‘neither his loyalty to this country nor his discretion were all that could be desired’. Seth was also considered to be a post-war security threat whose job opportunities should be restricted. Despite these revelations, Seth was never prosecuted and was able to become a successful post-war espionage author. This article explains how these seemingly obvious contradictions came to pass.

Despite the 3rd SIS Interrogation report in May 1945 considering  Seth/Chartman  a man who needed to be kept an eye on as a post-war security threat and the vetoing of various potential postings, following his departure from the RAF he went on to become a teacher (where?) and publish his 1952 memoirs ‘ A Spy Has No Friends’ along with a number of other books.
Journal of British Intelligence, 4 November 2013, p.60

Journal of British Intelligence, 4 November 2013, p.60

Picture 9
But in particular one book of Seth’s published in 1969, two years before his involvement with Righton and the ACCESS counselling charity caught my eye: Children Against Witches, where he discussed his view of the inherent unreliability of children’s testimony against the backdrop of Europe’s witch hunts.

By 1985 Macmillan were publishing Seth’s series of children’s travel books titled “Let’s go to…” providing an introduction to countries such as Malta.
It would be interesting to know whether MI5 continued to keep a vague eye on Seth/Chartham and his pro Anglo-German/anti-Soviet sentiments throughout his involvement with Righton and ACCESS.
If anyone has any further information on Ronald Seth’s career post Special Operations Executive and RAF I’d be grateful for any leads/recommended reading.

 

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12 comments

  1. It always amazes me how Peter Righton was regarded as an ” expert ” on social work and sexuality ,
    In an open university document he is referred to and cited ( the red head thing)
    why i wonder .

    Ok another issue i would like to mention is The Grunwicks dispute which took place in mid 1970s and on the face of it looked like a classic left vs right battle between workers and unions and bosses .
    That is until you discover that Colin Peters ( paedophile and convicted child sex abuser and guest at Elm Guest House) was employed by Grunwicks boss George Ward ( strange catholic background thats been investigated)
    Peters was employed by Ward as VAT accountant in fact Peters was working for customs and excise which is weird because customs and excise also seize obscene material even odder is that Harvey Proctors two shops
    was done for none payment of VAT and Proctor also being a guest at Elm Guest House
    Add to the fact that royal mail posties had blacked Grunwicks mail by refusing to deliver it in sympathy with strikers made it possible for any obscene photos to go undetected which
    had been a problem for child porn distributors contravening the 1953 post office act
    And having the National Freedom Association which was connected to security services delivering the packets using vans cars and trucks seems quite useful

    Another odd thing was that on the strikers side supporting them was Jack Dromey nccl
    Grunwicks was in Brent ,
    Peters was convicted for a Brent child sex offence

    So was Grunwicks a front for child porn distribution?

  2. Why was Righton allowed to reach the very top of the social work profession ( with posts at NISW and the National Children’s Bureau as stepping stones to positions as a Home Office/ Government “expert” on major reports ) despite being caught red handed abusing boys on a large scale in the 1950’s

    You would not appoint a person with his previous convictions in the 1950’s for child abuse near children, neither while make him an expert on children.

    About equivalent as making one of the Kray twins Head of the Metropolitan Police force.

      1. Hardly. There’s a huge amount of movement between the two even now and 30 odd years ago, even more so.

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