Playland 1970-1975: When protecting ‘millionaires titled and influential’ paedophile punters becomes paramount

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The amusement arcade that ‘became a den of vice’ with a clientele which included ‘millionaires, titled and influential people’  

a slave market where runaway boys are lured with false pleasures and turned into donkeys, beasts of burden for the hidden desires of a sick society…Young bodies are not slot machines for greedy lusts that lurk in the closet’ [Johnny Come Home,  Jake Arnott, 2007]

Spotlight on Abuse: The Playland Cover-Up

Mid Heath’s term as Prime Minister, the Evening Standard’s fourth page headline ran ‘Amusement centre that ‘became a den of vice.” (1 March 1972). Memories of Playland and its reputation have left their mark in fiction too. More recently, Jake Arnott chose the Piccadilly Circus arcade as a location for a bomb planted by the Angry Brigade in Johnny Come Home. Published in 2007 but set in 1972, the same year as the first Playland Trial, the warning letter stated:

“Playland is not an amusement arcade, it is a slave market where runaway boys are lured with false pleasures and turned into donkeys, beasts of burden for the hidden desires of a sick society…Young bodies are not slot machines for greedy lusts that lurk in the closet, they belong to the children of the Revolution…We are in Arcadia also.”[a]

In the early 70s, pre-PIE or PAL and the paedophile liberation campaign the word ‘paedophile’ had not been adopted by the press or activists and the golden era of video arcade games was yet to make brand names of Atari and Sega. For 40 years, since 1935, the lights of Playland had drawn both the teddy boys of the late fifties and the teens of the early seventies –  pinball was still the game and Playland was the place for young runaways to play it. Across London’s West End other ‘leisure centres’ or ‘amusement arcades’ had mushroomed, immortalised in British popular culture by The Who’s ‘Pinball Wizard’ in their innovative rock opera ‘Tommy’ of 1968 and the allure of new pinball machines like the ‘72 Bally Fireball had runaway children from the provinces flocking somewhere warm in the hope of a game or two.

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6 minute walk from Albany to Playland 16, Coventry Street (the star almost opposite Playland is 32 Shaftesbury Avenue, the office location for Albany Trust)

Situated just off Piccadilly Circus, a brisk 5 minute walk down Regent’s Street from Albany (Ted Heath’s former ‘set’ at F2 while Leader of the Opposition pre 1970), or a minute across the Trocadero from the Albany Trust’s offices at No 32 Shaftesbury Avenue, the neon front of Playland amusement arcade, 16, Coventry Street, was open most, if not all hours.

Piccadilly’s reputation as a centre for male prostitution in London stretched back centuries but Playland as a location took on a starring role during the seventies by acting as a honey-pot, unwittingly or not, to a number of well-connected and powerful clientele interested in mostly young runaway boys – on whose behalf an elite political backlash of pro-paedophile lobbying would be unleashed from 1975 onwards.

During a study conducted in the run up to Ted Heath’s successful election (1969-1970) Mervyn Harris, South African author of The Dilly Boys had observed,

“On weekends, many younger boys can get free games on the machines from older men who may simply get pleasure from watching the boys amuse themselves.”[b]

Harris, in observing and speaking with boys at Piccadilly Circus may have gained more useful information on the type of clientele boys from Playland were being procured for. 1974 allegations that the Bishop of Stepney (Father Trevor Huddleston) had molested two school-aged boys were later dismissed as the work of BOSS motivated by Huddleston’s anti-apartheid work. And Harold Wilson would also become convinced BOSS attempts to derail the Liberals and the involvement of a South African journalist Gordon Winter were behind the Norman Scott-Josiffe affair and Thorpe’s trial and public demise.

 See Blog Post: The Dilly Boys by Mervyn Harris published in 1973

In August 1971 Andrew Prichodsky (24) and Kenneth O’Neill (22) were sentenced to 3 years for their procurement of young boys, photographing them and planning to advertise their new business in obscene images of children in alternative magazine Oz.

“Referring to the boy of 14, Mr Prichodsky said: “He had left home. I met him in an amusement arcade in the West End. He had been staying with me. I have spent £80 on him mostly on clothes, and now he has …… off and left me,””

Prichodsky was also careful to let the police and the court know what he knew about who he knew:

On a table they found a blue envelope containing obscene photographs of a 14-year-old boy. Mr Prichodsky said: ” Yes, I took them. You may think it funny, but I like pictures of young boys and there are a lot of influential people of the same mind. You would be surprised if I told you some of their names.”

If a place such as Playland came to the attention of one or more foreign security services as attracting ‘millionaires titled and influential people’ to buy young runaway boys to sexually abuse, then as German magazine Stern would suggest in 1973:

Under the control of a Mafia-type organisation, or an alien secret service, such a vice ring could be a most effective source of state secrets.

Interestingly Tim Fortescue, one of Heath’s Senior Conservative whips (1970-September 1973) in the years during which the risk to national security Playland and its punters began to increase steeply, does not give his reason to help out an MP in a jam involving ‘small boys’ as being in the interests of national security though – only that it would give political parties more leverage of their members and their votes in Parliament.

Playland Trial No. 1

At the first Playland trial at the Old Bailey five men were charged with sexual offences involving nine boys, all aged between thirteen and fifteen. To Detective Sergeant Michael Keenan, defining the clientele of Playland was clearcut. The arcade was “a pretty unpleasant place frequented by homosexuals”. Yet men who were sexually interested in other men were not to be found at Playland.   For those in the know, amongst the flashing lights, clacking flippers and lightening reverb of the pinball machines, Arnott’s fiction reflected facts, and Playland was a place where runaway boys could be bought from lurking pimps, for a few hours or a night or a party or a photo shoot, one, two, three at a time. Some of these men had once been young boys themselves, arriving at a railway station.

The central and convenient location of the arcade attracted pederasts and pedophiles that defendant David Archer would four years later describe as ‘millionaires, titled and influential people’.

These were men specifically attracted to the age of boys who liked arcade games, fifteen and under.

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Evening Standard, Wednesday 1 March 1972

Aged 23 and 24, David Ernest Archer and Basil John Andrew Cohen had been living together at Hartham Road, Holloway, when they and three other men were convicted for sexual offences against boys picked up, procured and traded at Playland. Archer received a sentence of 3 1/2 years and Cohen 4 years.

Ian Henry Ashby of Denzil Road, Brent was jailed for 3 years

Geoffrey Storey, Cavell Street, Stepney was jailed for 12 months

Of the five Leroy Peter Jones, an American living at a St John’s Wood address, (Aberdeen Place, close to Malcolm Raywood’s address given in Playland Trial No 2 as Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale), received the longest sentence of six years and was recommended for deportation. The five appearing before the Old Bailey in front of Sir Carl Aarvold were told (in a speech highlighting why the age of consent being unequal represented and created scope for homophobia, although also placing children’s protection as paramount):

“This Playland arcade must be a very unsavoury place. No doubt some of the boys were willing participants and were prepared perhaps for money to indulge in unpleasant activities that went on. But even debauched youth is entitled to protection from further debauchery. Homosexuality may well be a disease, an illness or a weaknes of character, but when it involves the use of children in sexual display or sexual gratification then their protection must be of paramount importance.   It is not only of concern to the boys mentioned in this case but to others who might become victims of other men.   It is therefore necessary to impose sentences that reflect the public view of such activities and might act as a deterrent to others.”

On 23 November 1972, three defendants – David Archer, Ian Ashby and Leroy Jones were given leave to appeal.

See Cathyfox blog for transcript here.

Its unknown as yet whether the three were successful in their appeal or why co-convicted Geoffrey Storey or Andrew Cohen didn’t appeal.

The management company had reassured Sir Carl Aarvold of their intentions to take steps to “keep undesirables out” during the 1972 Playland trial, so when a second trial involving Playland hit the headlines three and a half years later, the reason behind B.W. Ekhart’s decision to liquidate Trafalgar Novelties Ltd on 17 February 1975 became clear. The fact that both David Archer and Andrew Cohen were co-defendants again meant the writing was on the wall for the Arcade before the trial had even begun in July 1975. The timing of Playland’s proprietors’ decision to wind up the company in whose name the arcade was operating suggests that police activity in terms of interviewing and charging suspects may have begun during the same months PIE, PAL and the NCCL Gay Rights Committee were formed in late 1974.

London Gazette, 27 February 1975, Issue: 46502 Page: 2726

London Gazette, 27 February 1975, Issue: 46502 Page: 2726

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London Gazette 27 February 1975 Issue: 46502 Page: 2738

London Gazette 27 February 1975

London Gazette 27 February 1975 Page 2722

May 1973: A Prime Minister’s ‘Official warning’ of Public Figures being impersonated and Dr Morris Fraser on trial in New York for involvement in a ‘boys for sale’ ring alongside George Parker Rossman

Daily Mirror, 22 May 1973, p.3

Daily Mirror, 22 May 1973, p.3

Daily Express, Thursday 4 October 1973, p.11

Daily Express, Thursday 4 October 1973, p.11

The Times, Friday 25 May 1973, p.4

The Times, Friday 25 May 1973, p.4

Between Playland Trials 1 and 2, during May 1973 the former Solicitor-General for Scotland, David Anderson QC (and former Conservative MP for Dumfrieshire) made an astonishing assertion during his trial for ‘a breach of the peace’ when he was found guilty of approaching two fourteen year old girls with a masochistic sexual request. At the start of his trial on Monday 21st May, the Daily Mirror reported the following day that Anderson had asserted ‘the Prime Minister’ had sent letters containing an ‘official warning’ to a number of ‘men in public life’ that there was a possibility that men had impersonated them committing criminal offences. Anderson’s defence was that he had been framed by a subversive organisation in an attempt to discredit the Conservative party.

Anderson maintained until his death in 1995 that his heroic actions in Norway during WWII (which had prevented Stalin and the Soviet army from taking it over as a result of Russian prisoners of war rioting in a German run prison in North Norway) had made him a target of the KGB, hence ‘impersonators’ ‘the prime minister’ had warned of being responsible for propositioning children.

Fined QC says:' I am innocent' The Guardian  23 May 1973: 8.

Fined QC says:’ I am innocent’
The Guardian 23 May 1973: 8.

However, The Guardian corrected the Daily Mirror report that ‘the Prime Minister’ referred by Anderson was a former Prime Minister, namely Harold Macmillan under whom Anderson, following being made a QC during the year of the Suez Crisis in 1957, had served as a Solicitor-General between 1960-1964. Before resuming the trial on the second day Anderson’s defence counsel, Mr JPH Mackay QC, vide-dean of the Faculty of Advocates went to the trouble of addressing the lack of clarity around which Prime Minister Anderson had intended to refer to. Unusually Anderson had not been an MP for most of the time he served as Solicitor-General under Macmillan and when he won a December 1963 by-election in Dumfries, he became one of the shortest-serving MPs by resigning at the next General Election in 1964. At the time he’d claimed ill-health as the reason for his resignation and no mention of a Prime Minister’s warning letter had been made.

And yet Anderson’s assertion of ‘the Prime Minister’s’ warning almost a decade later did not save him. Neither did it save Lord Lambton or Lord Jellicoe from being revealed as customers of call-girls and having their commitment to the UK’s national security interests questioned. While further allegations of a third and possibly fourth MP being involved with the call-girl services the two Lords had become ensnared by were quickly dismissed in the press, towards the tail-end of the press coverage of Lambton’s downfall another vice-ring involving young men and boys under the age of 21 started to be reported before it was quickly moved off the front pages by the announcement of Princess Anne’s engagement.

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Staff from Stern magazine, declared themselves uninterested in the sex lives of British aristocracy

“We are only concerned with the possible leakage of Nato secrets and the German branch of the vice ring, which might benefit from indiscretions of German diplomats and leakages of secrets through ‘blackmail’. Our main concern is the people behind this ring. Under the control of a Mafia-type organisation, or an alien secret service, such a vice ring could be a most effective source of state secrets.[c]

Scotland’s Profumo: Shocking story of the war hero who fell from grace, Daily Record, 22 November 2008

During the same month, American newspapers were reporting the New York/Suffolk County trial of Dr Morris Fraser, later to be identified as a prominent PIE member. Eight men including Fraser were indicted for sexual offences against approximately 15 boys aged between 10 and 15 years old.  The ‘group’ had met at a house George Brehm had rented at West Islip, Long Island New York with two boats docked (boats would later feature in Dr Morris Fraser’s involvement with the Azimuth ‘charity‘) and was so organised it had even boasted a newsletter for its ‘members’. His involvement in an international child abuse network preying on boys had come to light in

On 6th May in an article ‘Psychiatrist denies sex abuse charges’ (see right) Dr Fraser states to the New York Times “my innocence is beyond question.”

The 31 year old doctor, who said he had been suspended following the indictment from his $8,000 a year post as senior registrar in psychiatry at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, said: “I emphatically deny that I did anything other than act completely properly.

He said he had known two of the defendants and had seen one indulging in “minor acts” with two boys but had not reported it for professional reasons. He said that he had received assurances that treatment would be obtained for the man who had committed the acts.

“It looks very bad on the face of it,” Dr Fraser said, “But I only wanted to help these people, and I feel that all I did was my duty as a doctor to that one man.”

Despite the support of MPs Malcolm Rifkind and Robin Cook who were convinced of Anderson’s innocence, in a bizarre twist David Steel’s wife would recognise the words a man had used to approach her when a fresher at University of Edinburgh in 1959 while watching a play based on Anderson’s trial. Lady Steel wrote about her realisation in her 2010 autobiography after a an inquiry held almost a decade after Anderson’s death failed to pardon him.

Daily Mirror, Wednesday 3 April 1974, p.9

Daily Mirror, Wednesday 3 April 1974, p.9

1975: ‘Playland’ Trial No.2  and ‘Johnny-Go-Home’ TV documentary

While Albany Trust twin-tracked progress for grant applications to the Grocer’s Company and the Guild of Goldsmiths alongside government funding for the much desired Field Officer and Youth Officer roles, the summer of 1975 brought the exploitation and prostitution of runaway children into headlines covering two events – a second Playland trial and the broadcast of Yorkshire TV’s documentary film ‘Johnny Go Home’. The Trust’s response to these events would be led by Harold Haywood, officially in post as Chairman of Trustees from September 1975. Haywood’s perception of the moral duty the Trust held to permit paedophiles to live at peace with themselves was to shape the direction of the Trust over the next two years.

The jury serving on the nine-week Playland trial during the summer of 1975 would not have been privy to Archer or Cohen’s previous convictions connected to their ‘socialising’ at the arcade just over two years previously. For the jury, listening day in day out to scenes from life inside Playland, the night the ITV film ‘Johnny Go Home’ was broadcast may have proved a welcome break in the depressing monotony of exploitation the prosecuting counsel had painted. On the night of 22 July, jury members were ordered a stay overnight in a hotel – in rooms without TVs – while the rest of the nation got a glimpse of scenes inside Playland the jury had been inhabiting since the trial had started on 20 June.

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“Detectives had watched as men spoke to Mr Novac or Mr Raywood, at the arcade, picked out a boy and aid up to £5 for the introduction.

A boy aged 10 and his friend, aged 14, were taken to Islington Fields, where Mr Novac and Mr Andrew Cohen told them to come up to a flat when they saw a torch signal. Photographs were taken.”

During Playland Trial No 2, a separate case was being heard relating to Playland. Kenneth Martin, a chestnut man living at Dansey Place, Soho had been luring boys to his flat with Meccano and railway sets in a story of ‘almost Dickensian child corruption’. Mr Justice Gwyn Morris QC was the presiding judge and Mr Colin Hart-Leverton prosecuted.

“One of Mr Martin’s victims was a boy aged 11, who turned to make prostitution after a meeting at Playland, a West End amusement arcade, it was alleged.”

As David Archer would do, Martin pleaded for chemical castration: ‘I have time and time again asked for some form of treatment for this. But nobody listens.’ The Judge state ‘The only treatment for offences involving small boys is self-restraint.’

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At home people tuned into ITV to glimpse behind the neon lights and learn about Ernie, a man “in his middle twenties”, who “had been born only about three miles from where he and Johnny now live, though when they first met, Ernie had lived in a squat in Elgin Avenue.”[i] Ernie was ‘in a relationship’ with ten year old Johnny from Elephant and Castle who bunked school each day to meet Ernie where they hung out at Piccadilly’s Playland Arcade until Ernie went to prison for stealing a car to drive Johnny home one morning on one of his regular nights staying over with Ernie.

Albany Trust’s sympathy for Charles Hornby’s predicament

During the trial Hornby was remanded in custody since May for attempting to pervert the course of justice by bribing boys to change their testimony, forcing him to enter an early guilty plea. Despite pleading guilty the jury had heard that ‘wealthy socialite’ Hornby, 35, a Lloyds’ Underwriter and younger brother of the Managing Director of W.H.Smith Sir Simon Hornby had been leading a double life, presumably not his fault because in the view of Albany Trustees a:

‘double life and self-deception which society still forces upon the bisexual man and the sexually active adolescent’

One wonders if any of the five Albany Trustees or its Chairman had actually read the press coverage when they wrote to The Guardian a week after the trial ended. Testimony from thirty youths had featured among the seventy prosecution witnesses called to give evidence by Michael Corkery, the prosecuting counsel.

“Scotland Yard was tipped off and appointed Superintendent Malcolm Ferguson and seven of his officers to form a squad.

The officers took turns to enter the arcade and play the fruit machines and the pin tables. They affected the same casual air as many of the customers. The four ‘agents’ did not give them a second glance because they looked just like the other hundreds of shiftless men who frequented the place.”

“After months of observation the police were able to round up the ringleaders of the gang and some of their clients.” [see below]

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The four accused were only the agents for more wealthy clients who would pay them £10 for each new boy they procured. Their clients were known as ‘punters’ and the youths as ‘rent boys’. Some boys, once corrupted, became male prostitutes and were able to earn as much as £80 a night.

The four ‘agents’ had a set routine. They ignored the young girls, also runaways and often in greater number, but watched for the boys. After a casual friendly conversation, they would invite a ‘fresh bunny’ as the victims were called to coffee or a meal. If the boys needed somewhere to sleep they would be invited to spend the night at the home of one of the four.” [see above]

Malcolm Raywood was also known as ‘Tony the butcher’. He lived in a 2 storey-flat containing 13 rooms above Eatmore butchers at 459, Garratt Lane, Earlsfield. Raywood’s rooms were a half-way house, used for housing ‘fresh bunnies’ or ‘fresh young chickens’ (young runaway boys new to London) before being selected and passed on to more affluent and influential clients such as Charles Hornby.

Guardian, 23 September 1975, p.9

Guardian, 23 September 1975, p.9

The boys were often given temporary jobs with David Archer, who ran a firm hiring out guard dogs.

On 22 September 1975, former Conservative whip and MP for Shipley Yorkshire, Marcus Fox, wrote to Home Secretary Roy Jenkins to ask whether he was satisfied with the powers local authorities have to close such premises.

‘And the director, American Mr Bruce Warner Eckert of Park Lane, and management consultant Mr Bernard Ernest Briggs of Purley Oaks Road, Sanderstead, Surrey have issued a statement in which they say: ‘Great efforts have been made and continue to be made, to cooperate to the fullest with police and local authority regulations.”‘

Guardian, 23 September 1975, p.9

Guardian, 23 September 1975, p.9

Former Fulham councillor and barrister Laurence Giovene was Malcolm Raywood’s defence counsel during the Hornby Playland Trial and within 18 months would represent Andre Thorne, defending him against blackmail charges relating to PIE.

During 1976 21 year old Andre Thorne, while at a party at the flat of Keith Hose, (PIE Chairman and NCCL Gay Rights Committee member) had stolen a PIE application form and cheque for £4.

The PIE applicant ‘Mr X’ said on the form ‘that he was a paedophile, male, married, 29 years old and attracted to girls between the ages of 7 and 13 years.” The envelope Thorne had stolen also contained another PIE membership application in addition to Mr X’s.

On trial during January 1977, on 4 February 1977 Thorne was jailed for 3 years for blackmail, 2 years for theft of the cheque and postal orders and 6 months for handling stolen goods, ‘statuettes of boys’. [See Needleblog post on BOSS, Blackmail and the Paedophile MP ]. Subsequent to Judge Alan Hamilton-King’s comments in Thorne’s case that the PIE membership list was ‘dynamite’ and a source for blackmail Nettie Pollard (PIE Member no 70 and NCCL Gay Rights Officer on the committee with Keith Hose) had attempted to get Hamilton-King disciplined.

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“Mr Robin Simpson QC for Mr Hornby said the trouble perhaps started with Mr Hornby’s weekday separation from his wife. In June 1973 an office colleague remarked quite innocently that he had seen male prostitutes hanging about in the West End. Hornby began to look out for them.”

“Mr John Alliott, for Mr Archer, said he had a previous conviction concerning Playland. This ‘shouted aloud’ that places like Playland should cease to exist.

He said Mr Archer was determined to undergo a course of treatment he described as ‘chemical castration’. It involved implanting female hormones which reduced sex drive.”

What possibly mattered most to the Albany Trustees was that Hornby’s sister had married and divorced the Duke of Marlborough, and that Hornby as an old Etonian, ex-9th Lancers officer and amateur steeplechase jockey was very well connected, reported by the newspapers as hosting Prince Charles amongst his circle of dinner friends at Shipton Moyne, Tetbury, his Gloucestershire estate.

Sir Simon, his older brother had seven years previously married the Queen Mother’s racehorse trainer’s daughter, Sharon Cazalet, in a star studded wedding. The Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, Noel Coward, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton are all on film walking into a tiny village church in Shipbourne in Kent for the occasion.[ii] At the Cazalet family home Fairlawnes in Kent, the Queen Mother had often been a guest, as well as the historian Elizabeth Longford (nee Harman) and her husband, Labour Peer, Lord Frank Longford[iii], Harriet Harman’s uncle who had self-funded and produced the 1972 PORN report.[iv] Hornby’s eldest son Nicholas had been but a few months old at the time of the star-spangled wedding, newly christened with Prince Charles’ polo team member Andrew Parker-Bowles as a godparent.

During sentencing Hornby’s defence counsel Robin Simpson QC would use 7 year old Nicholas’ imminent attendance at boarding school and the worsening of his stammer as mitigation for his father’s abuse of young boys. Simpson also pointed to the birth of Hornby’s youngest, his only daughter Camilla, in April 1973 as perhaps the instigating event.

“This was perhaps when the trouble started.” Mr Simpson said, “because much of the time during the week he was away from his family. Something very insidious happened. It is not easy to explain in the atmosphere of this court.”

Illustrious social circles aside, during his working week in London and while his wife remained at Tetbury with their three children, it was true that Hornby had acquired a very different circle of associates. In June 1973 Hornby had picked up a young man in Half Moon Street. In July 1973 he picked up another ‘male prostitute’ in Shepherd Market and in August 1973 he started going to Playland where children under the age of 16 could be found and bought.

Following a remark by a Lloyd’s colleague on the number of male prostitutes to be seen at Piccadilly Circus, Hornby had gone to look. Folding his conspicuously tall 6ft 4 inch frame into his red mini-van, leaving his smart townhouse in Montagu Square, Marylebone, for the flashing lights of Playland amusement arcade in Coventry Street where he was a valued customer of men in the business of prostituting children, people like Malcolm Raywood who spent their days hovering like vultures over runaways, offering them ‘free’ meals and a bed for the night.

There Charles would select two or three new boys and take them to one of two ‘vice’ flats he maintained – Shortlands, Wembley or Chepstow Villas, Notting Hill – photographing the boys, and attending parties supplied with boys. Although press reports suggested Hornby had been observed four times between June 1973 – January 1975 by [Scotland Yard? Special branch? vice squad? – Sir Robert Marks was incoming Chief of Met on clean-up mission], later residents of Montagu Square would hear that it was a boy Scout who went to the police to report him, reportedly leading Lady Charlotte Bonham-Carter on hearing Hornby had been betrayed to blame the children as seducers:

“Those terrible, terrible boy-scouts, they should be disbanded!”[v]

Despite Judge Alan King-Hamilton’s statement that the only thing the defendants shared was an obsession with boys and a wish to conceal it with claims of ‘helping’ those they were exploiting, Hornby’s early guilty plea and his defence counsel Mr Robin Simpson’s efforts in mitigation resulted in a sentence of 30 months imprisonment and a £1,000 fine. He eventually served ten months, one third of his sentence, released in July 1976.

By April 1977 Hornby was able to apply for and receive a gun licence, not usually permitted for five years after a prison sentence and despite the recorder having met Hornby at a party a few years earlier it was accepted there was no need for him to recuse himself having declared his association.[vi] It was remarked that there was no violence used in his convicted offences. There was however no recognition that Hornby’s offences *had* involved parties where he had taken boys to be abused.

On the day of sentencing[vii] of all five the headlines ran ‘Gang trapped the ‘Johnny Go Home’ boys they met in the heart of London’ ‘The Evil Men in Playland’(Daily Mail) ‘The Squire’s secret life in the Playland of vice’(Daily Express) and over subsequent days‘Old Etonian is jailed in ‘rent boys’ vice case’(Daily Mirror) ‘The shame a wife could face no more’(Daily Express).  In The Montreal Gazette and the Sunday Times, it was reported that David Archer had asked the Judge to consider chemical castration for him via female hormone implantation before pronouncing sentence, a request which Judge King-Hamilton denied.

Bruce Eckart and Bernard Briggs reinvent themselves as ‘Piccadilly Amusements Ltd’

Although Trafalgar Novelties Ltd as proprietor of Playland had been wound-up in March 1975, American Bruce Eckart and South Croydon based Bernard Briggs had become incorporated as directors of Piccadilly Amusements Ltd through which they continued to run Playland. The day after Hornby and his 4 co-defendants were sentenced, Eckart and Briggs were waiting to hear if their application for a renewal of their 5 year licence would be granted by Westminster City Council licensing sub-committee.

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The Guardian 27 September 1975, p5

The Guardian 27 September 1975, p5

Reading of Hornby’s involvement with exploiting runaways, and his desperate and damning attempts to bribe boys to change their evidence, [viii]prison sentence all combined to excite the empathy of the Albany Trustees, Rodney Bennett-England, Lucille Butler, Rev. Michael Butler, Antony Grey, Harold Haywood and Tony Smythe

Together the six wrote to the Guardian, “as Trustees of an agency concerned with psychological health, youth welfare, and a better understanding of sexuality we hope no-one believes that teenage male prostitution can be eradicated by hefty prison sentences or television programmes like Johnny Go Home.”   “The most pathetic aspect of the recent “vice trial” was its revelation of the double life and self-deception which society still forces upon the bisexual man and the sexually active adolescent.   In this situation it must be asked, who is exploiting whom? And how can such exploitation be reduced?”[ix]

The Guardian

The Guardian

Mr Justice Friend allows Playland appeal and licence is renewed for 3 years

Both Directors of Playland had been out of the country during the trial. pleading ignorance of the arcade’s role as a ‘vice trap’. Wealthy Park Lane resident, American Bruce W. Eckart was reported as being in hospital in the States receiving hospital treatment. His co-director South Croydon resident, 60 year old Bernard Briggs had gone to Malta, only returning to his basement office beneath Playland on the day of sentencing – 25 September.

Daily Express, Friday 26 September 1975, p.11

Daily Express, Friday 26 September 1975, p.11

Daily Mirror, Saturday 27 September 1975 p.9

Daily Mirror, Saturday 27 September 1975 p.9

Daily Express, Saturday 27 Septemmber 1975, front page

Daily Express, Saturday 27 September 1975, front page

Bernard Briggs – described as managing director of the owners ‘Piccadilly Amusements’ had been personally involved in the negotiations with his solicitor Alan Grieve. At the first instance the Licensing Committee refused to renew the licence under the Gambling Act 1968. Briggs and Eckart appealed within the 21 day period.

Six months later, on Monday 5 April 1976 despite a further trial involving Playland and the imprisonment of a pimp preying on young runaway girls at the arcade having taken place after Hornby’s trial, Knightsbridge Magistrates’ were hearing Briggs and Eckart’s appeal against their licence refusal:

“When the appeal began on Monday, the Knightsbridge magistrate was told that in 1974 the arcade was a favourite haunt of sixty-four people who were known to be living on immoral earnings.”

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Daily Mirror, Wednesday 7 April 1976, p.8

Daily Mirror, Wednesday 7 April 1976, p.8

After 3 days’ legal argument Judge Friend simply handed back the licence to Eckart and Briggs with a renewal term of three years much to the concern of William Kearney, chairman of Westminster general purposes committee. The judge did not give his reasons for allowing the appeal by Piccadilly Amusements Ltd.

Daily Mirror, Thursday 8 April 1976, p.5

Daily Mirror, Thursday 8 April 1976, p.5

The Reversal of Fortunes: Playland Trial No 3 (November 1976)

Sunday Express, 21 November 1976, p5

Sunday Express, 21 November 1976, p5

Just over a year later a reversal of fortune took place for the four men jailed as Hornby’s Playland associates the previous September; (not including Charles Hornby due to him having pleaded guilty and released in July having served a third of his sentence). David Archer, also reported as a plumber as well as a security guard, from Forest Gate who’d originally requested chemical castration and received a five and a half years prison sentence, had his conviction for an unnatural act and indecency set aside by three Court of Appeal judges. The Daily Mail reported,

“Last night Archer said he would present the police with a dossier naming ‘millionaires and titled and influential people’ involved in the Playland affair. He added, ‘I believe there was a tremendous cover-up to protect these people.’”[x]

Daily Mirror, Tuesday 30 November 1976, p11

Daily Mirror, Tuesday 30 November 1976, p11

The Guardian, 30 November 1976, p6

The Guardian, 30 November 1976, p6

Appeals judges Lord Justice Bridge, Mr Justice Wien and Mr Justice Kenneth Jones said they would give reasons for their decisions at a later date.

Mr Alan Campbell QC for Mr Novak told the appeal judges that the most nauseating aspect of the case was not apparent in the appeals.

“There are people in their manor houses and luxury flats, holding important positions in society, who were behind this case”, he said.

Just over a fortnight later the Appeal judges gave their reasons to quashing David Archer’s conviction.

For the full case transcript of 15 December 1976 please see Cathyfox’s blog

“Police evidence of David Archer’s visits to the Playland amusement arcade” was “devastatingly prejudicial” to a fair trial.

The appeal judges considered the evidence that Mr Archer had been seen with homosexuals as inadmissible. It had woven a ‘web of suspicion’ which must have turned the jury against him.

The Guardian, 16 December 1976, p.5

The Guardian, 16 December 1976, p.5

Three weeks on from the Daily Mail’s lone report of Archer’s threat, Callaghan’s Home Secretary Merlyn Rees was asked by Arthur Lewis MP (Lab: Newham North West) if he would arrange for an independent investigation into David Archer’s allegations against powerful people involved in the prostitution and sexual abuse of runaway boys alongside Charles Hornby and his four associates, or what Lewis referred to as the ‘Piccadilly Playland call-boy case’. Rees had reported that the Commissioner of the Met, Sir Robert Mark, was arranging for an investigation of complaints Archer had made specifically against the police while in custody – but that on other outstanding matter he would reply in writing to Lewis.[xi]

So what happened to Sir Robert Mark’s files on the Met investigation into David Archer’s Playland 1975 dossier?

And who were the ‘millionaires titled and influential people’ and those ‘holding important positions in society’ who Charles Hornby, David Archer and co. served time for and shielded from prosecution?

Sadly Alan Campbell QC who later became Baron Campbell is no longer with us to speak of the ‘nauseating’ fact that people ‘holding important positions in society’ were behind the 1975 Playland trading of boys which he highlighted when Andrew Novac’s defence counsel on appeal.

Perhaps the other four barristers involved in the case may be able to assist the Goddard Inquiry with their inquiries?

Laurence Giovene – (now the 17th Duke of Girasole) – Counsel for Malcolm Raywood

Robin Simpson QC – (Alex Cameron QC’s predecessor as Head of Chambers at 3, Raymond Buildings) – Counsel for Charles Hornby

John Alliott – (Sir John Alliott, former Head of 1 Crown Office Row) – Counsel for David Archer

Michael Corkery – (became a QC, now aged 91?) – Prosecuting Counsel


[a] Johnny Come Home, Jake Arnott, 2007 p.?

[b] p/64 The Dilly Boys, p.64 – Chapter ‘Sexual Encounters’


[c] 22 May 1973 The Glasgow Herald

[i] (p.55) Johnny Go Home3


[iii] Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother: The Official Biography, William Shawcross, (2009) p.787


[v] p.323 Becoming a Londoner: A Diary (September 2013) David Plante

[vi]Vice case squire gets a licence to kill’, News of the World, 3 April 1977

[vii] 20th September 1975 Judge Hamilton-King spent five days summing-up

[viii] ‘Vice Squire gets a licence to kill’ News of the World, 3 April 1977

[ix] ‘Runaway Problem’ Letter to the Guardian, 27 September 1975 signed Rodney Bennett-England, Lucille Butler, Michael Butler, Antony Grey, Harold Haywood, Tony Smythe, Albany Trustees

[x] Playland Vice Case Man Freed, Daily Mail, 30th November 1976

[xi] Hansard 21 December 1976


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