On Saturday 20th October 1973, 12 months prior to founding the Paedophile Information Exchange two of its earliest members — Peter Righton – #51 and Dr Michael Coulson – #2 — came together to help the National Union of Students (NUS) launch its Gay Rights’ Campaign at its inaugural conference in Bristol.
In the audience of the Anson room, ready to join the afternoon’s workshops to inspire a new generation of University Gay Society leaders was Ian Dunn, another pivotal PIE founding member (and partner of Dr Michael Coulson) and, although no individual names are given, Hull University’s Sexual Liberation Society is listed as sending delegates. Keith Hose, who would become PIE’s first Chairman mid-1975, was the contact point in 1972’s first edition of Gay News for the SLS at Hull.
Almost a year to the day before the first advert for PIE would appear in Gay News, Bristol University’s Student Union President Trevor Locke had managed to gather in one room at least three, (Righton, Coulson and Dunn) if not four (Keith Hose) pro-paedophile activists who would shortly become PIE’s leading lights.
Although Trevor originally billed Righton as speaking on behalf of ACCESS on the topic of ‘Counselling homosexuals’, by the 3rd and final edition of the delegates’ pack Righton’s title appeared as ‘Head, Children’s Centre, National Children’s Bureau’
While the CHE Legal Reform Committee was seeking students studying Law or Sociology (Locke’s area of study) to assist with their work, Locke was keen to offer his own legal assistance to students directly: “Additionally if you are in trouble with the law please contact me as I might be able to help you.”
Locke’s offer of support for those in trouble with the law was much appreciated by Peter Chapman, a 45 year old Bristol man charged with indecent assault on a 15 year old boy. Chapman wrote into Gay News to thank him and report he had received a £50 fine appearing at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on 3 December 1974.
Although Locke had pencilled in a lawyer to speak on Law Reform to the NUS Conference, at some point during September/early October it was decided that Edinburgh University’s Professor of Sanskrit Dr Michael Coulson (1) would speak on law reform, and Coulson raised an important point about how it would be achieved:
“The removal of legal injustices towards Gays can only be achieved by Parliamentary enactment, and that is only possible if MPs want it. In the last resort, therefore a law reform campaign is a campaign of pressure upon MPs, whether in their private capacity or as members of a government.”
Did other PIE members agree with PIE Member No 2 about placing pressure on MPs in their private lives before his abrupt suicide in October 1975?
(1) Further reading on PIE Member No. 2: Dr Michael Coulson, Professor of Sanskrit at University of Edinburgh, Chairman of Scottish Minorities Group (responsible for campaigns and lobbying) and Ian Dunn’s first adult relationship, who commits suicide on 16 October 1975 and in a PIE Newsletter obituary is revealed as PIE member No.2