Month: January 2015

1968-1970: Albany Trust, Peter Righton, Antony Grey and Ian Greer

It was during the summer of 1968, that Antony Grey notes “a weekend study conference of about thirty people, mostly from the caring professions, met to review the social situation following law reform” and the Trust began to be steered towards ‘youth sexuality’. Hosted at Wychcroft, Surrey, the home of the Church of England’s Southwark Diocese Ordination course for new incoming priests, the July weekend’s focus according to Grey, was on the homosexual ‘image’, the need for more supportive social frameworks, more realistic public education concerning teenage sexuality ‘and the often extensive sexual experience of young people, both heterosexual and homosexual, and the social folly of treating them as criminals on the pretext of ‘protecting’ them, was stressed.’[i]

 

To that end the group requested the Trust to put in place a research and practical help project for those aged under twenty-one – as Grey pinpoints “the beginning of the Trust’s special concern for this very vulnerable age group.”[ii] The plans of the thirty people gathering together in July 1968 were to serve as a ‘significant precursor’ to the 1970 Social Needs Conference in York and the Trust’s ensuing development programme.

 

Rev. Malcolm Johnson in his recently published autobiography ‘Diary of a gay priest: The Tightrope Walker, who was at the time a chaplain to Queen Mary’s College, resident at St Benet’s on the Mile End Road, gives a first-hand account of attending the weekend:

 

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Ken Plummer the sociologist, one of the attendees mentioned above, is currently Emeritus Professor of sociology at Essex University [‘Paedophilia is natural and normal for males’ The Telegraph, 5 July 2014]

By June 1969, the informal group at Wychcroft had begun to take on a more formal structure at the inaugural meeting of the Albany Trust Social Projects Study Group. Peter Righton, who was then currently M.A. Lecturer in Social Work Training at the National Institute of Social Work and ever the keen public speaker, was by November 1969 very much involved with the Trust’s counselling work and presented the Albany Trust’s Winter Talk on ‘The Concept of Counselling.[iii]

With Righton at the helm as Chair, and Antony Grey, Managing Trustee of the Albany Trust as Secretary, and one other attendee, Rev. Michael Butler who would later become Counselling Trustee for Albany, the Study Group’s stated objectives, to be achieved over the course of an intense 12 month period meeting fortnightly, were to cover:

 

  • the comparative assessment of the history, mode of operation and achievements of homophile groups in other countries (notably US Holland France and Scandinavia ) as well as development in Britain to date
  • unmet needs in this country
  • proposals for action

 

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“It was felt that the research should be of sufficient depth to influence opinion in the Churches, Parliamentary, Government and legal circles as well as the Press; and that in order to be useful, it should provoke general discussion of a nature calculated to remove the legal obstacle which remain in the way of non-hazardous social contact between homosexual people. It would be necessary to delineate the defects of the present situation, social as well as legal, and the contents should include the broader questions of public policy and education.”

 

It was agreed that the research should be carried out under the auspices of Albany Trust and that Peter Righton would work with Antony Grey on compiling UK organisations and with the Dutch Economist Leo Perk on Continental Organisations. Leo Perk Vlaanderen, resident in England for most of his life, had an interest in the re-education of ex-prisoners and financing the British education of children from developing countries, which had led to him establishing a charitable foundation in his mother’s name.

While Perk was unable to make it to the inaugural meeting, Ian Greer, Allan Campbell, Keith Lye, and Brian Parkinson were all in attendance.

At the time Greer, who thirty years later would achieve notoriety in the Cash for Questions scandal involving the House of Fraser’s Mohammed Al-Fayed, (exposed by Exaro’s (then Guardian) journalist David Hencke and the Observer’s David Leigh), was also working for the Mental Health Trust. In 1966 in a surprising detour from his political aspirations, Greer’s name had been passed to Lord Butler and Sir Evelyn Rothschild and he had accepted an appointment as National Director. [iv]

Greer’s 13 years at Conservative Central Office and then as a campaign manager in Billericay meant that by his mid-thirties he’d built a wealth of political experience and contacts. During his time at the Mental Health Trust, and a year before joining forces with Righton and Grey on the Study Project, he and his partner John Russell went into business together, establishing Russell Greer Associates, a political PR lobbying firm – a concept very much ahead of its time, although already well established in Washington.

“Mr Greer became the party’s youngest ever agent (a full-time party post then and reasonably paid) working the Billericay beat. There followed a three-year spell as national director of the Mental Health Trust before he returned to the political world. In 1970 he set up a consultancy with a friend, John Russell, a venture which, after only modest success, ended when the two fell out in 1980.” [http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/rise-and-fall-of-the-greed-generations-lobbyist-1356986.html ]

By May 1969 the Rt. Hon. Jo Grimond, MP, otherwise known as ‘the man who saved the Liberals’ had launched a national campaign on behalf of the Mental Health Trust to raise £250,000 to establish a network of rehabilitation centres, and other projects.

Mental Health Trust advert 1969: I’m still trying to wipe away the tears of my childhood: The private trauma behind the star of the shocking ad campaign [Daily Mail, 29 June 2012]

In his June 1995 statement to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Standards & Privileges Greer gave a more detailed account of his invitation to head up the Mental Health Trust, hand-picked by Lord Butler (former Home Secretary at the time Sir Ian Horobin MP’s prosecution for abuse of boys, promoted to Deputy Prime Minister in Macmillan’s Night of the Long Knives during) and Sir Evelyn De Rothschild.

 

 

WITNESS STATEMENTS BY MR IAN GREER [62]

 

Ian Bramwell Greer of 19 Catherine Place, London, SW1E 6DX will say:

 

  1. I am 62 years of age, having been born in 1933. After leaving school at 17, I went on to further education at a business college before, in 1953, commencing work for Conservative Central Office as a Constituency Campaign Organiser. I later became the then youngest Conservative Party agent in the country.

 

  1. I have always, throughout my adult life, taken a great interest in politics, probably through the influence of my parents, who were both Salvation Army Officers and deeply committed Christians who devoted a great deal of their time to social work. I can recall at the age of about 12 or so delivering leaflets in support of the late Winston Churchill’s election campaign. I recall that at the time I started work for Conservative Central Office I was paid £6.00 per week which, even those days, represented little more than a subsistence allowance. My work involved establishing the structure of Conservative Party organisations in the various constituencies where I was sent, raising funds and seeking to introduce new members to the Conservative Party. I thought a great deal about the possibility of standing for Parliament myself but, since I do not come from a wealthy background, and knowing how insecure an MP’s position can be, after 13 years I decided to concentrate on developing my own professional career, outside the Conservative Party.

 

  1. My first thought was to seek employment with a public relations company, but my name was passed to the then Lord Butler, better known as RAB Butler, the former Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Education, and Sir Evelyn De Rothschild, a member of the famous banking family, who were involved in establishing the Mental Health Trust. I left the employment of the Conservative Party in 1966 to become National Director of the Trust, which was an organisation pledged to a campaign to raise money and to change the attitude of both the public and government towards the mentally ill. At the time, there remained a great deal of ignorance about mental illness not only amongst the public but also amongst politicians; the attitude still at that time was to lock the mentally ill away from other members of the community in huge, Victorian institutions. I recall our campaign slogan at the time was “Hurt Minds Can Be Healed” and I believe that a great deal of the work which I, and others connected with the Trust, carried out, helped to enlighten both the public and the legislators to have a greater understanding of the problems of mental illness. I held the position for two years, working as a lobbyist on behalf of the mentally ill, their families and dependents.
  2. My experience at the Mental Health Trust demonstrated to me the contribution an effective lobbying campaign can make. I was already aware, from my time at Conservative Central Office, where I had always taken a keen interest in American as well as British politics, of the far greater developed lobbying system which had grown up in the US and the more effective way in which campaigns were mounted, by both professional and non professional lobbyists in the US, in order to ensure that legislators had a better understanding of particular social or business concerns. I was also aware of the very wide feeling amongst industrialists that Members of Parliament and Government Ministers had no real understanding of their needs, and the widespread feeling of MPs and Government Ministers that industrialists did not understand the process of government. I accordingly decided, with a colleague, to start a political public relations company, Russell Greer Associates, which was set up in 1968. With the benefit of hindsight, I can see that the concept was ahead of its time. I found it very frequently to be the case, when approaching potential clients, that the attitude tended to be that the directors of a company felt they would be able to follow what was going on in Parliament from reading the Financial Timesor, quite frequently, I would be told that one of the directors had been close personal friends of an MP for many years and was quite sure that the MP would keep the company informed of anything it needed to know. Many of the people I met at this time seemed to have great confidence in the traditional “old boy” network and, although my intention had been for Russell Greer Associates to be involved mainly in political matters, it became largely a financial and general public relations company. The years from 1968 until 1982 were a time of great struggle for me financially, trying to develop the business.

 

From July 1969, a month after his inauguration as Secretary of the Social Study Projects Group alongside Righton, Doreen Cordell, a counselling employee of the Trust had sensed that Antony was completely withdrawn, ‘in absentia’ in mind mostly but also physically as she would later write to Peter Righton[v], unaware he and Grey were deeply involved in extra-curricular projects, with far grander plans for power and influence in lobbying than through counselling provision or the Trust as the sole medium. His overall lack of interest in the counselling and the affairs of the Trust had begun during the final debates and the coming into force of the Sexual Offences Act 1967.

Later the same year the Study Group had been established, Raymond Clarke (who was later to smooth the path for the Trust’s government funding) chaired one of the first provincial social work conferences at York University bringing together people representing most of the homophile groups in Britain, alongside delegates from churches, education, social work and counselling. Arising out of this first York Conference a major decision arose which Grey describes as:

“to convene a working party to produce a report on the particular problems involved and skills required in counselling homosexuals. The resulting document, Counselling homosexuals: a study of personal needs and public attitudes, compiled by Peter Righton and published by the National Council for Social Services Square Press in 1973, still merits attention. In his Introduction, Raymond Clarke referred to the growing openness of society, with less stigma than formerly attaching to certain areas of social need, but commented that ‘when one member of the conference referred to the ‘hell of alienation felt by many homosexuals’ there was a general agreement that this was all too common.”[vi]

On Grey’s return from York the temperature in the Trust’s offices cooled considerably. Doreen Cordell and Grey were locked in a bitter battle over Grey’s wish for Cordell to support the new Social Needs group work administratively. “You must know” – she wrote to Peter Righton almost two years later, “ in case you are not aware of this already – that because of my unwillingness to machinate for Antony in his private affairs, he turned extremely vicious during the latter part of 1969 and early 1970.” [vii]

“With help from Michael Schofield and other sociologists a questionnaire on social needs of homosexual men and women was compiled and over 5,000 copies of this were widely distributed between December 1969 and February 1970. 2672 anonymously completed replies were received – from 2082 men, 588 women and two people who did not specify their sex.”[viii]

During the spring and summer of 1970 analysis of the responses was undertaken. A weekend residential conference entitled ‘Social Needs’ and sponsored by the Albany Trust and the Yorkshire Council of Social Service took place at York University in July 1970 to discuss the results of the survey and implications for future work.

“Another good friend who appeared around this time, and played a powerful supporting role for the Trust for many years, was Raymond Clark, who was at the time Secretary of the Yorkshire Council of Social Service. Raymond, who came from a Methodist background and was a magistrate, had a very distinguished career in social service. When he left Yorkshire he came for some years head of the national organisations division of the National Council of Social Service in London, where I continued to work closely with him. Later, Sir Keith Joseph, asked him to become Director of the Personal Social Services Council and he finished his career as chief executive of the National Council of Voluntary Child Care Organisations. When we first came into contact with Raymond in Leeds he was already well aware of the mental loneliness and physical isolation experienced by homosexuals, especially those living away from large towns. We referred some of our Northern cases to him, and instead of going home to his wife and family after a long day’s work he would sometimes spend his evenings travelling out into the country by bus to counsel some desperately lonely person who had contacted the Albany Trust; a generous and selfless gesture which typifies his attitude to social service. We soon realised that in Raymond Clarke we had a sympathetic and highly professional ear for our plans, and he set up and jointly sponsored with the Albany Trust one of the first provincial social work conferences we took part in at York University in 1969. This was so successful that it led to the important residential ‘Social Needs’ conference at York in 1970, chaired by Raymond.”[ix]

Soon after the York Meeting, Grey handed in his resignation to the Trustees and departed at the end of September 1970, making way for Michael De La Noy, the planned coup of Albany Trust’s counselling files by Peter Righton and Doreen Cordell and the arrival of Dr Robert Chartham.

January 1973: Peter Righton compiles Doreen Cordell’s observations into a report

In January 1973 Righton would finally publish a report presenting the views of the Working Party set up at the York Conference, a jointly sponsored event by the Albany Trust and Yorkshire Council of Social Service, headed by Raymond T Clarke who also writes the Preface. Under Sir Keith Joseph’s Ministerial responsibility for Social Services in Ted heath’s Cabinet, Clarke had been promoted to the Head of the National Organisation Division within the National Council of Social Service. 2. 5 years previously he had been Secretary to Yorkshire Council Social Services.

Another Albany Trust member of the Working Party is Rev. Michael Butler, Deputy Director of The Samaritans over at Chad Varah’s church in the city – the Grocer’s Company St Stephen’s Walbrook.

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January 1973, National Council of Social Services

 

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Members of the Working Party

 

 

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Raymond Clarke’s preface

 

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Raymond Clarke’s preface

 

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Peter Righton’s wish to conflate terminology

 

Published while Peter Righton is listed as Head of the Children’s Centre, National Children’s Bureau, this A5 booklet he sets out a proposal for a training framework for educating counsellors and befrienders in catering to homosexual clients having identified a specific issue with terminology. Righton is most concerned to conflate the definition of homosexuality with pederasty by pointing out it can be conflated, followed by what now might be discerned as a description of his own predatory behaviour.

The observations are based on the experience of one worker – most likely to be Doreen Cordell – over four years [April 1967 – spring 1971] at the Albany Trust, without reference or further analysis of the case material, because presumably the Trust’s counselling case files were never transferred to ACCESS. Specifically focuses on Doreen’s clients, male and female aged 15-69 during 1970-1971, some of whom may have moved with her when she was forced to leave the Trust in spring 1971 by Michael De La Noy, the Trust’s new Director. In terminology, Righton as the compiler observes:

“It is decidedly unfortunate that pederasty has two distinct sense, the second much more perjorative than the first, and that there is no agreement on the age-range covered by the term pederasty in the first sense. In practice, the few who use the term neutrally tend to mean ‘adolescent boy, the many who use the term with a condemnatory intention tend to mean ‘prepubertal boy’. There is no term corresponding to pederasty used in the first sense which can be used to refer to a woman’s attraction to an adolescent girl. Further misconceptions arise from the common public belief that most male homosexuals are ‘plotting and scheming’ to commit pederasty (in the second sense) whenever they get the chance.’

Righton’s tactic in publicly pre-empting any slips he might make or news of any previous close shaves he’d already had with the law as homophobic slurs also tells us what he knows to be the truth about himself: a man intent on ‘plotting and scheming’ to commit sexual assaults on post (and pre?) pubertal boys; a child rapist obsessed by opportunity and access to children, exploiting his power and influence in ever-ascending social circles every inch of the way.

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‘plotting and scheming’

 

 

[i] Quest for Justice: Towards homosexual emancipation (1992) Antony Grey Loc 3264/6001

[ii] Grey Loc 3275/6001

[iii] New Society, 20 November 1969

[iv] Greer’s Witness Statement to the Privilege & Standards Committee http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199798/cmselect/cmstnprv/030ii/sp01108.htm

[v] PSY/WOL/4/1 Letter Jul 1971 Doreen Cordell to Peter Righton

[vi] Grey Loc 3319/6001

[vii] Ibid p.6 5th July 1971 Doreen Cordell to Peter Righton

[viii] Grey Loc 3291/6001

[ix] Grey Loc 3052/6001

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