1994: What Lord Longford’s autobiography has to say on MI6 boaster Frank Beck & his ‘honest eyes’

In 1994 Lord Longford published his autobiography ‘Avowed Intent’ in which his chapter on ‘Penal Reform’ talks of his friendships with Dennis Nilsen, Myra Hindley (very much of interest with regard to Savile’s strange comment ‘I AM the Myra Hindley story – see below) and Frank Beck – the now notorious head of 3 children’s homes in Leicester during whose trial in 1991 Greville Janner MP (Lab: Leics NW) was accused of abusing a boy in Beck’s care.

David Hare on Dan Davies' Jimmy Savile: biography of the man who 'groomed a nation' [The Guardian Wed 9 July 2014]

David Hare on Dan Davies’ Jimmy Savile: biography of the man who ‘groomed a nation’ [The Guardian Wed 9 July 2014]

Lord Longford (Frank Pakenham) had worked for Sir Joseph Ball in the Conservative Research Department, meeting Moseley at a dinner party at Cliveden in May 1930 [1]. According to papers in archives seen by the author of Churchill’s Secret Enemy, Sir Ball attended Frank’s marriage to Elizabeth Packenham in 1931.[2] Fiercely pro-appeasement, Ball would later form LONHRO the Rhodesian mining company which ex Hitler youth Tiny Rowlands headed up and where Sir Angus Ogilvy would fall foul of Ted Heath’s comments about the company and Ogilvy’s breach of sanctions (Ogilvy was the President to whom Jimmy Savile played Vice at the National Association of Youth Clubs and, as it happens, the husband of the woman, Princess Alexandra, who introduced him to Duncrofts Approved School as Savile writes in his autobiography)

Sir Joseph Ball: http://churchillssecretenemy.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/sir-joseph-ball-1885-1961-churchills.html

In 1930 he was promoted to the post of Director of the Conservative Research Department. Over the next 15 years he developed the strategy of using dirty tricks and black propaganda. This included operating secret agents in the Labour Party and Liberal Party. One historian has claimed that Ball was Britain’s first spin-doctor.

It was during his time working for Sir Joseph Ball that Frank decided to join the Labour Party in 1936.

For a detailed timeline of Frank Beck’s career, trial, conviction and subsequent inquiries please see https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2015/04/19/child-abuse-in-leicestershire-working-document-frank-beck/ 

Longford having visited Dennis Nilsen [“an excellent sense of humour”] and Brian Balderstone, both in prison at Whitemore, Cambridgeshire already in one day, then waited to see the third prisoner on his list due for a visit – Frank Beck.

Writing as at 17 September 1993 Longford said:

“The third prisoner I visited on that occasion was Frank Beck, who was convicted of a whole series of offences in the children’s homes he was in charge of under Leicestershire County Council for thirteen years. On the face of it his is a dreadful story. He is, however, appealing against the convictions, although I gather the appeal will not be heard possibly until later in 1994. I am now, after several visits, personally convinced of his total innocence. He made an excellent first impression on me, and again impressed me the second time I visited, when he had two solicitors present so that we had a very detailed discussion. On this second occasion he reminded me that I had told the press he had honest eyes; certainly I would confirm that assessment.”

Why would having two solicitors [n.b. in an earlier version of this blog post I wrongly transcribed solicitors as soldiers] present have any bearing on the ability to conduct ‘a very detailed discussion’? Was Lord Longford aware that adult male social workers who had worked with Beck had made allegations of sexual assault against him, not “just” children? Or that Beck was keen to make the court aware that after leaving the Marines MI6 had wanted to employ him as a “secret agent” but he’d decided to go and qualify as a social worker, leaving the question of whether he’d declined or accepted this job offer open and his role of controlling children’s homes merely a cover for a security services role? Fortunately, while the MI6 claim went unreported in other press reports of Beck’s case, Social Work Today didn’t receive the memo: Beck boasted MI6 link says witness [Social Work Today, 24 October 1991] photo 1-49 Despite being avowedly intent upon the rehabilitation of prisoners who have committed and been convicted of serious offences however little remorse they show for abusing children for example, as in the case of Mormon preacher Brian Balderstone…

“As far as Brian Balderstone is concerned, I wish he were out of prison by the time these words are published. He has difficulties with remorse. At the time of his offences he was a Mormon priest; now he receives much consolation from the pentecostals. He and his wife used to have one of his granddaughters in bed with them, and he was convicted of serious offences against his granddaughter. He does not admit to rape, but recognises he behaved improperly. When he is released he hopes to live in a Christian hostel. I promised to write to his former employer about his future.”

Longford’s christian compassion for convicts and ex-convicts doesn’t extend to the child victims of Beck and he is extremely hopeful that it will be possible to undermine their evidence against Beck by using any police records possible to discredit them

“One of the solicitors handling the appeal told me that where they had been able to obtain the police records of Frank Beck’s accusers, these were enough to discredit them. They had not been able to obtain the records at the time of the trial of those whose evidence was accepted by the jury. Since then, however, this information has been extracted from the police. At the time of writing, the former chairman of the Bar Council, Mr Scrimegeour, is leading the appal, which suggests that the scare of Frank Beck possesses no little strength.”

Sadly the entire chapter on ‘Penal reform’ only seems to cut one way for Longford, to the benefit of rapists and killers, many of whose victims were children, for their forgiveness regardless of their lack of remorse and most dangerously, for their release. Why does British romanticism for the (often, but not always) upper-class ‘eccentric’ blind us so frequently to deeply unpleasant undercurrents in such personalities? photo 2-48 photo 3-31 Although Longford sent flowers to Beck’s funeral [reference cited as Catholic Herald 17 June 1994] it doesn’t appear he attended himself and as the book was almost through the publication process Beck’s death prompted Longford to add an epilogue:

“Still later, at an advanced stage in the book’s production, I heard with great sorrow that Frank Beck had died suddenly. After his death I received a letter, written shortly before, which I shall always treasure, and the poem from which I can only quote four lines below. His appeal has obviously had to be dropped and I shall continue to hope that the efforts to clear his name will be successful.

Then to die, by someone’s evil streak.

A flickering light, always cold,

A light no more, now by God’s grace,

Free for sure.”

The contents of Longford’s final and treasured letter from Beck and Beck’s poem in its entirety would likely make for elucidating reading. I would be grateful for any further information on Brian Balderstone’s trial and conviction. It appears Longford may have had an agenda around which certain prisoners received his compassionate campaigning fervour and others did not. photo 4-23

[1] Fn.45 Churchill’s Secret Enemy

[2] Fn. 45 Churchill’s Secret Enemy

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