1967/68: Antony Grey serving on NCCL’s Legal Sub-Committee

When PIE member Nettie Pollard invites Grey to join the NCCL Gay Rights Committee on 3rd April 1978 [see here – scroll to bottom of post] he was no stranger to the NCCL having served on the Executive Committee almost a decade previously, albeit listed with his real name – Edgar Wright. The General Secretary at the time was Tony Smythe (future Director of MIND), who 12 years later Grey would pressure into responding to Ronald Butt’s allegation in The Times [26th March 1981: Spotlightonabuse here ‘The Questions Unaswered in the Hayman case’]. Butt had stated MIND was a ‘pressure group in receipt of government money and support’ was being one of ‘most guilty of conniving at the attempt to make the pedophile ‘movement’ respectable.’

[See further blog post: With compliments from Ian Dunn and while you were out, Tony Smythe, called]

[See also: MIND Workshop September 1975 on paedophilia, chaired by Peter Righton, attended by Antony Grey and Sir Harold Haywood, with speeches by two PIE members who concurrently served on the NCCL Gay Rights Committee, Chairman Keith Hose and Nettie Pollard)

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During the passage of the Sexual Offences Bill through Parliament in 1967, Grey, as dual Secretary of the Sexual Law Reform Society and the Albany Trust, also sat on the Legal Group of the NCCL Executive Committee. Although he’d studied history at Magdelene College Oxford, Grey had also read for the Bar and had therefore undertaken legal training. Grey was very busy post royal assent for the Act, bitterly disappointed with its limited decriminalisation – not only was he sitting on NCCL’s Executive Committee he had also established a Project Study Group with Peter Righton involving Ian Greer [see further blog post here], was assisting with the editing of notorious child abuser Walter Breen’s UK publication of Greek Love and also planning to co-write a book with Dr David Kerr MP (Lab: Wandsworth Central 1964-1970) [see further blog post here]

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On the Legal Board of the NCCL Grey got the opportunity to lobby with and learn from some of the leading lights of the civil liberties legal world, then and now, including:

Ben Birnberg (b. 1931 – ) civil liberties lawyer who acted for Ian Brady on being introduced by Harriet Harman’s uncle Lord Longford [Farewell to a non-fat cat lawyer, The Independent, 25 February 1999]

“He recalls his first meeting with Ian Brady, who was introduced as a client through long-time friend Lord Longford. “Brady was in a terrible state in prison – he looked like a skeleton coming out of a Nazi concentration camp.” Using an internal Home Office psychiatrist’s report, which recommended that Brady be moved to a mental hospital, Mr Birnberg started an action against the Home Office in the early 1980s and succeeded in having Brady moved to Park Lane (now Ashworth), where he has been since 1985.”

Dr Lindsey Neustatter – Albany Trust’s Deputy Chairman in 1962 – and member of the interviewing panel appointing Antony Grey to the Trust [see blog post here on Grey’s interview] had provided the initial psychiatric report on Brady in 1966 prior to his sentencing.

On retirement in 1999:

“He will also spend more time campaigning, with “maverick” MP Austin Mitchell, for a National Legal Service. He has already made submissions to the Lord Chancellor. “Needless to say, I’m a very old acquaintance of the Lord Chancellor, I think I gave him one of his first legal aid briefs – possibly the only one he has ever had.”

Lord Irvine, Tony Blair’s former Head of Chambers was the Lord Chancellor at the time Birnberg is mentioning having instructed him on a legal aid case, perhaps one of the very few. Bizarrely Austin Mitchell MP’s name is only familiar to me due to attracting headlines  a few weeks ago for declaring Labour will still win Grimsby even if the party selected a ‘raving alcoholic sex pedophile’  [Independent, 25 February 2015]

‘In his 69th year, the solicitor and his firm will have a lasting influence. His career has spanned almost two thirds of his life, during which time there have been the most radical of changes in the law, and in lawyers. The articled clerks who have been at the firm include Paul Boateng, Gareth Peirce, and Imran Khan, who acts for Stephen Lawrence’s family. Director of Liberty, John Wadham, who also worked at the firm , says: “Ben Birnberg has been an inspiration, not only to me, but to a whole generation of civil rights lawyers.”‘

John Griffith (b.1918-d.2010)  [Guardian Obituary 25 May 2010]

A leading public law scholar at the London School of Economics, I have fond memories of immersing myself in his controversial book Politics of the Judiciary (1977) when I should have been completing an undergrad essay on the separation of powers in Constitutional & Admin law.

“In common with his friend Ralph Miliband, Griffith had absorbed much of Laski’s socialist radicalism, and his more explicitly political analyses tended to highlight the authoritarian nature of government and in particular the close political, social and class linkages of the elites in power. It was therefore hardly surprising that he advanced a radical critique of the role of the judiciary, especially when it strayed into the field of politics.” [from Guardian obituary above]

Alan Paterson: (b.1911- d.1999) Guardian Obituary

“…provided the legal expertise to the National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty) during its crucial period of growth in the 1960s. A right-hand man to director general Martin Ennals, he was also a founder, trustee and administrator for the Cobden Trust, the NCCL’s sister charity.

In 1970, Paterson wrote one of Cobden’s early publications, Legal Aid as a Social Service. Its conclusions could be taken to heart today by a government which no longer views the law as a social service.”

Alan Paterson’s daughter Tess Gill became NCCL Vice Chairman in 1976, the year the battle with PIE putting forward motions at the NCCL’s AGM had raged most ferociously and Jack Dromey MP had been co-opted back onto the Executive Committee

“On their retirement, they moved to Calne, Wiltshire, opening their home as a haven for their family and for their daughter Tess and her colleagues on the NCCL women’s committee to plan their next campaigns.”

Cedric Thornberry (b.1936- d.2014) [Guardian Obituary] Also a lecturer at London School of Economics who would later become Assistant General Secretary to UN and advisor to NATO. It was during 1967/8 he left his first wife and children (his daughter, until recently Labour’s Shadow Attorney-General, Emily Thornberry MP Lab: Islington South since 2005, and her two younger brothers)

“Her mother Sallie, alas no longer with us, was a most courageous and distinguished person, and also much-loved by political allies and opponents alike. She was a teacher by profession, and an active and popular Labour councillor who became, despite the privations and difficulties of her life, Mayor of Guildford in Surrey, by no means a Labour town.

But the family was not fatherless in the sense that it had never had a father. Nor was Sallie Thornberry unmarried. On the contrary, she was married to a distinguished and talented academic lawyer, Cedric Thornberry, who lectured at the London School of Economics, and rose to become Assistant General Secretary of the United Nations. He is still active in the international human rights industry.

I do not know or seek to know exactly how he came to leave the family home, though he did so when his daughter was seven and his sons even younger. It is perhaps significant that Emily Thornberry omits all reference to him from her entry in ‘Who’s Who’ (those in Who’s Who’ write their own entries), though she does mention her mother.” [The phoney outrage of Emily Thornberry, Christopher Hitchens, Daily Mail, 18 June 2012]

In 1968 Michael Schofield, a fellow Albany Trustee, would join Grey on the NCCL Executive Committee further strengthening the links between the two organisations. Grey and Doreen Cordell’s animosity towards one another would fester throughout 1969 until Grey’s resignation and replacement with Michael De La Noy as Director of the Trust in December 1970.

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[Excerpt above from blog post: July 1971 – Peter Righton at the House of Lords, Lord Beaumont calls an emergency meeting for 12 friends of the Albany Trust]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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