Bishop of Gleaves

1971-1975: Ivor Street, Icebreakers and PIE

Ivor Street, Icebreakers and PIE

A key clique to emerge out of the explosion of energy and activism created by the Gay Liberation Front during 1970-72 was The Counter-Psychiatry Group, emulating US West Coast groups formed in reaction to gay men and women treated as if they had a medical or psychological condition which could be expunged or made heterosexual with ‘treatment’ such as aversion therapy. Icebreakers, a gay counselling/befriending group would emerge from the Counter-Psychiatry group during 1972, under the leadership of 35 year old sociologist and lead Housing Development researcher at the Department of Environment, Michael J Burbidge.

One third of the founding twelve members of the NCCL Gay Rights Committee established in September 1974 already knew one another through Icebreakers:

  • Micky Burbidge (PIE Manifesto co-drafter);
  • Keith Hose (first PIE Chairman);
  • Nettie Pollard (NCCL Gay Rights Officer responsible for PIE and PAL’s affiliation with NCCL and PIE member); and
  • Anna Duhig

“In London the group formed around Elizabeth Wilson, herself a psychiatric social worker with previous experience of the anti-pysychiatry theories and writings of RD Laing. The original lists of GLF members interested in the group survive and show twenty-eight names including Elizabeth, Mary, Jeffrey Weeks, Micky Burbidge and David Hutter, all of whom were to be centrally involved in its writings, actions and spin-off groups.” [No bath but plenty of bubbles: An oral history of the GLF 1970-73, Lisa Power, p.42]

“Version therapy (usually electric shock treatment) was such a major issue because it was the publicly accepted way of dealing with homosexuality. I knew that I was gay in 1962 and decided that I didn’t want to be. I read an article about a man who did aversion therapy for homosexuals and I wrote to him asking for therapy. He had a long waiting list, so nothing happened. Then I read a story in the paper about a man who had aversion therapy to make him fall out of love with the wrong woman and I suddenly realised that it was awful to think of switching off loving feelings by shock treatment. There had to be another way of dealing with it. That totally changed my mind and I decided that I wanted to be what I was, after all.” (Micky BurbidgeNo bath but plenty of bubbles: An oral history of the GLF 1970-73, Lisa Power, p.93)

Nettie Pollard and Micky Burbidge

“I was in the Counter-Psychiatry Group with Micky and others. I helped to organise a conference at the London School of Economics in Autumn 1971 — Homosexual Oppression?  Freedom? Mary McIntosh spoke on abolishing the age of consent and people from outside, like doctors, came along.” (Nettie Pollard, No bath but plenty of bubbles: An oral history of the GLF 1970-73, Lisa Power, p.97)

“My best friend who was called Jake read about it in the Daily Mirror in April 1971 and we went along. It was in Middle Earth. I was straight then. Bruce Wood was there and Ted Brown, Micky Burbidge. Elizabeth Wilson got up and told everybody about the Women’s Group and what they were doing…The second week I went, there was an argument about intergenerational issues. It was seen as an issue of solidarity — people wanted to help anyone oppressed by the state. I felt that I could identify with it even as straight, because it was about sexual liberation and not gay rights, it was involve with women’s liberation and gender roles and so on. There was lots of debate about what gay meant — did it conclude transvestites and transsexuals, anyone who didn’t fit in.” (Nettie Pollard, No bath but plenty of bubbles: An oral history of the GLF 1970-73, Lisa Power p.69)

“I knew some other gays through cottaging. People I met this way would ask ‘are you active or passive’ and there were a lot of self-denigrating attitudes. I was very relieved when I finally found out that you didn’t have to be one or the other. I saw a poster in Compendium for the first meeting and I thought it was incredible, I wanted to go but I was afraid to walk into a room full of openly gay people. It was Jeffrey [Weeks] who insisted I go to GLF, we were friends.” (Micky Burbidge) [No bath but plenty of bubbles: An oral history of the GLF 1970-73, Lisa Power p.24]

During 1971, at the height of GLF’s wave of liberation, Micky Burbidge could fill the neo-gothic rafters of All Saint’s Church Hall in Notting Hill with an outraged crowd, sickened to hear of electric shocks and chemical castration.

By 1972 the Counter-Psychiatry Group had become a regular Sunday evening meet-up at 24 Ivor Street, Camden, NW1, where Micky shared a house with a 24 year old Scottish soon to be drama student Angus Suttie and 27 year old Jeffrey Weeks.

“Counter-Psychiatry Group later after long vicissitudes went in different directions. Mary got involved in the Manifesto Group, so that was like the theoretical bit of the group. Some us, myself, David Hutter, set up a small group who produced the pamphlets…Another wing moved in to what became Icebreakers. We worked on Psychiatry and the Homosexual from September 1971 into 1972. The group moved around and part of the rota was Ivor Street where Micky, Angus and I lived at the time. One particular meeting, I remember, we discussed the way forward and I suggested the pamphlet. One subgroup formed to do that, another talked about the helpline which became Icrebreakers and we just evolved in different directions and went on meeting separately. The group as such faded away and its energies went into the subgroups.” (Jeffrey Weeks No bath but plenty of bubbles: An oral history of the GLF 1970-73, Lisa Power p.99)

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On occasion the Counter-Psychiatry Group would meet elsewhere, as when Nettie Pollard (who 2 years later would become a founding member of NCCL Gay Rights Committee alongside Micky Burbidge; and PIE member #70) hosted it at her home, as on Sunday 8th October 1972:

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In line with the Counter-Psychiatry Group’s thinking on and rejection of medical experts’ opinions on homosexuality, a new counselling/befriending group called Icebreakers began to emerge who believed there were no better or additional qualifications necessary to counsel gay people other than the counsellor being gay and out themselves. This put the group’s attitude to counselling at odds with the Albany Trust’s more conservative approach and Antony Grey’s emphasis on professionalism and concern to associate himself professional counselling bodies.

On Tuesday 7 March 1972 the first few members of a proposed Ice Breaking Group gathered at Micky Burbidge’s address at 24 Ivor Street to discuss how best to help the most isolated gay people to come out.

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1973-74: Phoney Bishop of Gleaves once housed Icebreakers

During 1973-1974 the Icebreakers crystallised into a collective of just over 20 gay men and 2 women on a rota answering a phone every evening between 7.30pm and 10.30pm. Keith Hose [PIE’s first Chairman] became a ‘prominent member of Icebreakers‘ and Anna Duhig, another founding member of NCCL Gay Rights Committee also joined Burbidge’s Icebreakers.

Surprisingly, considering Icebreakers had formed out of the GLF, the Icebreakers phone wasn’t at the GLF centre on Railton Road but instead was installed at one of the Bishop of Gleaves’ hostels on Branksome Road in Brixton [see further on the murder of Billy Two-Tone and TV documentary Johnny Go Home, Gleaves’ associate Malcolm Raywood as co-defendant with Charles Hornby in the Playland Trial].

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Gay News

However, it soon became apparent that Gleaves was answering the phone himself and directing teenagers and young men looking for support from Icebreakers to come and stay at one of his hostels. Lambeth Council had started asking questions about a ‘male brothel run by priests’.  Only 3-4 years previously in November 1970 had a group of men been found guilty of prostituting and sexually abusing children in a flat on Solon Road, moments from Branksome Road. Gay News reported Icebreakers had swiftly severed links with Gleaves and moved in to the South London Gay Centre on Railton Road, Brixton instead.

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Gay News No 76 p.4 [1976]

By Icebreakers 3rd year it reported it had received 4, 417 calls –

1 in 7 were women; [631] 14.2%

1 in 11 married or divorced; [402] 9.1%

1 in 9 were under 21; [490] 11%

Just under 1 in 20 were transvestites; [220] 4.9%

19 calls were from transsexuals; 0.43%

52 calls were from paedophiles = 1.18%

March 1975 Ivor Street, Camden: PIE’s London Inauguration

Three years after Icebreakers’ first meeting, the first official London meeting of PIE also took place at an address in Ivor Street. Michael Hanson resigned and a young graduate from Hull University who had led the university’s Sexual Liberation Society, Keith Hose, was elected as Chairman.

During autumn that same year Micky Burbidge and Keith Hose would work together swiftly to produce the Paedophile Information Exchange’s response to the Criminal Law Revision Committee consultation. Together Burbidge and Hose would propose the abolition of the age of consent and the decriminalisation of ‘consensual’ sexual activity with children. Despite deploring the trauma of courtroom appearances for children as a reason for decriminalisation, the civil system of injunctions they proposed to replace it meant children (with no distinction made for pre-verbal and non-verbal children in their lack of ability to voice consent) would still be required to give evidence in court, the only difference being that it would a civil court rather than a criminal court.

It is unknown whether PIE’s London inauguration gathered at Micky Burbidge’s address at no 24 on Ivor Street in Camden or whether there happened to be another house on this short street where a gathering of pro-paedophile activists would have been welcomed.

“It was Martin also, who along with Keith Hose presided over the PIE gathering at London’s Ivor Street in March – with the object of initiating London PIE meetings.”

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PIE Newsletter (No.6) 1975, p.4

In just 2.5 years Micky Burbidge had nurtured Icebreakers into a small clique who met regularly for consciousness-raising sessions in between taking calls from mostly men and boys aged 14 to 70.

Within six months of Keith Hose’s election as PIE Chairman and PIE’s inaugural London meeting at Ivor Street, Burbidge wrote into the Guardian to defend Hose against John Torode’s London Letter column of 28 August 1975. Torode had obtained a copy of the PIE leaflet circulated by Hose at the Campaign for Homosexual Equality’s 3rd Annual Conference in Sheffield and commented:

“In short we are talking about poor, sad, perverted adults who take pleasure in having it off with children too young to know what they are doing and why. People who need medical treatment rather than sneering persecution, no doubt. But above all, people who need to be kept away from your kids and mine.”

The suggestion of paedophiles as needing medical treatment conflicted with Burbidge’s belief that the categorisation of paedophilia as a psychiatric disorder was as wrong as homosexuality’s categorisation as a psychiatric disorder and should be campaigned for alongside homosexuality under the umbrella definition of ‘sexual orientation’. Instead, Burbidge argued,

“The ‘harm’ which sometimes is associated with paedophilic (sic) relationships is real enough: it stems from the bigoted reactions of adults, from the hounding and interrogation of younger partners by the police and others, and from the intense feelings of guilt and anxiety which distort relationships.”

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The Guardian, Letters to the Editor Sep 3, 1975 p10

On 3rd January 1976 Keith Hose, when writing to Mary McIntosh (a Home Office policy advisor) to offer an early copy of the PIE Submission to the Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure he and Micky Burbidge had drafted, emphasised that mutual friends Jeffrey Weeks and Nettie Pollard had advised him to get in touch.

In spring 1976 Angus Suttie, Burbidge’s housemate at Ivor Street, wrote an article for Gay Left (launched as “A Socialist Journal produced by Gay Men” the previous autumn): “From Latent to Blatant: A personal account”. Suttie’s partner and housemate Jeffrey Weeks, [then Chair of the Charing Cross Branch of the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staff (ASTMS)] had co-founded the journal.

'The branch and Tony Kelly' by Jeffrey Weeks, Letters to The Guardian

‘The branch and Tony Kelly’ by Jeffrey Weeks, Letters to The Guardian ” 5 May 1976 p.12

In his personal account of coming out, Suttie wrote of the ambivalence he felt towards his sexually predatory scout master who molested him when he was only 10 years old; “to be gay or paedophile was to be a pariah and delight would be taken in making one aware of one’s outcastness”. For Suttie, despite recognising he’d felt no sexual attraction towards the scoutmaster as a 10 year old and that the experience was not ‘mutually pleasing”, the iniquity of society’s treatment of gays and paedophiles was suffered side by side.

“I at this time hadn’t reached puberty yet and all that was involved was tickling and stroking one another’s genitals, but on every occasion I felt dirty and guilty, so much so that I left the scouts and joined another troup. I had received enjoyment from the contact but I felt no attraction from the scoutmaster and I would think longingly of some of the other scouts with whom I would have much preferred a mutually pleasing sexual relationship.”

Perhaps for Weeks, it was the combination of his lifelong friendship with pro-paedophile activist Micky Burbidge with whom he lived for many years and his romantic relationship with Angus Suttie, which blurred his vision when writing of paedophilia ‘and its controversial, if contested, overlap with child sex abuse.’

Paedophiliac ‘relationships’ were only ever contested as not abusive by pro-paedophile activists arguing for the abolition of the age of consent and the decriminalisation of sexual activities children had ‘consented’ to. Unfortunately those activists or apologists never really got round to explaining how non-verbal or pre-verbal children could consent, or indeed, prove that they hadn’t, without a statutory age of consent to protect them.

Sexuality by Jeffrey Weeks, p.76, first published in 1986

Sexuality by Jeffrey Weeks, p.76, first published in 1986

The Dilly Boys by Mervyn Harris (London: Croom Helm Ltd) 1973

Piccadilly Circus, Abraham Jacob (an Islington-Lambeth link) and the Playland Cover-Up of 1975

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The Dilly Boys, Mervyn Harris, 1973

Piccadilly Circus appears to operate as a child abuse prostitution hub over such a period of time it has become part of the heritage, history and tradition of the area and The Dilly Boys sets the scene for updating that scape

Spotlight: The Playland Cover-Up (May 2014)

“In 1975, Scotland Yard carried out a high-profile child abuse investigation which centred on the Playland amusement arcade near Piccadilly Circus, and involved the sexual exploitation of homeless boys. The investigation led to five convictions in September 1975. Four of the men convicted were ‘nobodies’, but one – Charles Hornby –  was a pillar of the Establishment. He was a  wealthy socialite, a Lloyd’s underwriter, and an old Etonian, “who on occasion had Prince Charles among his dinner guests”.

The four ‘nobodies’ later had their sentences reduced in mysterious circumstances. One of them, David Archer, alleged that Hornby was far from being the only VIP involved in the Playland scandal.

Last night Archer said he would present the police with a dossier naming the ‘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.’

A clue as to the identity of one of these ‘titled and influential people’ appeared nearly a decade later with the publication of Philip Ziegler’s biography of Lord Mountbatten.

In 1975, Mountbatten was told that gossip had linked him to a homosexual scandal. He recorded in his diary: “I might have been accused of many things but hardly the act of homosexuality.”photo 2 (13)

Spotlight: Kenneth Martin (Playland and Operation Hedgerow)

1985/86: Spotlight: Major Probe ‘into a police homosexual ring’

Spotlight: Abraham Jacob and Piccadilly Circus and the Meat Rack

Islington social worker Abraham Jacob procured boys for serial killer Dennis Nilsen

social worker Abraham Jacob (‘Uncle Abe’) made his living in the ‘meat rack’ at Piccadilly Circus

About the Author: Mervyn Harris

From inner sleeve: “Mervyn Harris is a South African who has lived in London for the past ten years. He spent a year researching the book on the Dilly while at the London School of Economics.”

Mervyn Harris (b. 1938 – d. 2005 aged 67) Obituary from Allafrica.com

“MERVYN Harris, a well-known and respected journalist and former Business Day markets editor, died at his home in Johannesburg this past weekend after a long illness. He was 67.

His passing deprives the journalistic fraternity of one of its most versatile, dedicated, humble and professional practitioners, a true “journalist’s journalist”, and a character who left a lasting impression on all he came into contact with, not the least those who may have had the misfortune to be on the receiving end of a well-aimed barb.

Harris was born and raised in Johannesburg’s Yeoville, of Jewish parentage. Brought up in exceedingly humble and difficult circumstances, made all the more acute by the early death of his father and his mother’s subsequent remarriage, Harris was profoundly influenced by that remarkable generation of Jewish people who came to play so prominent a part in Johannesburg’s, and indeed, SA’s political, legal, business and academic life.”

Mervyn was approximately 25 when he arrived in London c. 1962/3 and almost 30 when he started researching The Dilly Boys in 1969.

In November – December 1973 Harris also published a three-part article in The Spectator (On the Dilly – Part 2, 1 December 1973, On the Dilly – Part 3, 8 December 1973)

“I first met Paul when he was seventeen and had been in the West End of London for several months. Occasionally he used to hang around the Arts Laboratory Theatre in Drury Lane where I was a frequent visitor around the time my brother’s play was being rehearsed and then performed there.” (Part 2  – 1 December 1973)

Lee Harris, now 78, is a South African writer and performer who arrived in England in 1956 aged 20,  and who was one of the few white members of the African National Congress. In the UK Lee Harris spent the next decade setting up the Arts Lab and writing and putting on amongst other works, “Love play described by Lee as “A boy’s journey through the underworld of emotional revelation”” and becoming quite a figure in the late 60s/early 70s counterculture with Home Grown with his 1972 opened shop Alchemy on Notting Hill’s Portobello Road.

Mervyn his journalist brother also went on to write further articles on British society for The Spectator on the drugs culture (Hustlers, straights and freaks, The Spectator 17 August 1974)

Inside sleeve: The Dilly is a whirlpool of sex, glamour, money, drugs and drop-outs. It’s the most exciting place in London but it can be the most lonely. This book describes the world of the boys who survive on the Dilly by homosexual prostitution.

On the cover a sketch of a man above the Piccadilly station entrance saying ‘Trains and Toilets’

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Preface

“This book is based on my study of male homosexual prostitutes in and around Piccadilly Circus from September 1969 to October 1970. I decided to get to know a few boys as well as possible – this turned out to be six – and follow them.

All the boys were between the ages of 15 and 23.”

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Inside Sleeve

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Preface

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second page of preface

Chapter 5: Sexual Encounters

p.63-65

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The Old Bailey Trial of 1 March 1972 of five men admitting various sexual offences involving boys, some between 13 – 15, solicited while playing the arcade machines in Playland features some unpleasant remarks that manage to offend both on behalf of gay men in general and also specifically the boys involved (Evening Standard, Wednesday 1 March 1972 and Interview, Evening Standard, 4 December 1969 to be obtained)

The timing of this trial suggests Playland was already being observed by police during 1971 –  following Mervyn Harris’ time spent amongst some of the boys ending October 1970.

With thanks to Troy (@snowfaked) and as ever @murunbuch (SpotlighonAbuse) for the below on here that adds an interesting 1976 postscript to the series of police investigations, trials, and  research focusing on The Dilly for the preceding seven years, during 1969 onwards if you count Mervyn Harris’ presence there.

The case of R v Andrew Novac & Ors [CAR Vol 65 1977] as found by Troy and as mentioned in the case below.

http://www.courtsni.gov.uk/en-GB/Judicial%20Decisions/PublishedByYear/Documents/2007/2007%20NICC%2017/j_j_GILC5826Final.htm

Neutral Citation no. [2007] NICC 17
Ref: GILC5826
Delivered: 17/05/07

IN THE CROWN COURT IN NORTHERN IRELAND
___________
THE QUEEN
v
JASON KING

GILLEN J
Identification

[1] The accused is to be tried on an indictment containing approximately 85 counts with 15 complainants in relation to sexual offences and offences of violence…

The Indictment
[3] The accused in this case is charged on an indictment bearing 85 counts stretching over a period between 1983 and 2005. The counts include allegations of rape, buggery, indecent assault, unlawful carnal knowledge, gross indecency, making indecent photographs of children and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

[5] The prosecution case is that the accused is alleged to have engaged in sexual relations with 15 young girls between 1983 and 2005. The majority of these alleged incidents are said to have occurred since 1994. The ages of the females are said to range broadly from 12 to 19 save in one instance. The accused is alleged to have befriended young girls, collected them from school, brought them to his flat and engaged in sexual activities with them. Whilst the accused has admitted that he knew all of the complainants, he denies all of the allegations made against him in the course of interviews with the police. He admits only to entering into sexual relationship with those complainants who were 17 years or older.

[THIS REFERS TO THE PLAYLAND CIRCUS TRIAL]

[12] (ii) Equally, judicial criticism has been visited on the overloading of indictments which lead to long and complex trials occupying, as in this case perhaps, up to three months or more. In ***R v Andrew Novac & O[the]rs CAR Vol 65 1977*** page 109 at page 118 Bridge LJ said:

“We cannot conclude this judgment without pointing out that, in our opinion, most of the difficulties which have bedevilled this trial, and which have led in the end to the quashing of all convictions except on conspiracy and related counts, arose directly out of the overloading of the indictment. How much worse the difficulties would have been if the case had proceeded to trial on the original indictment containing 38 counts does not bear contemplation. But even in its reduced form the indictment of 19 counts against four defendants resulted in a trial of quite unnecessary length and complexity. … Quite apart from the question of whether the prosecution could find legal justification for joining all these counts in one indictment and resisting severance, the wider and more important question has to be asked whether in such a case the interests of justice were likely to be better served by one very long trial or by one moderately long or four short separate trials. We answer unhesitatingly that whatever advantages were expected to accrue from one long trial, … they were heavily outweighed by the disadvantages. A trial of such dimensions puts an immense burden on both judge and jury. In the course of a four or five day summing up the most careful and conscientious judge may so easily overlook some essential matter. Even if the summing up is faultless, it is by no means cynical to doubt whether the average juror can be expected to take it all in and apply all the directions given. Some criminal prosecutions involve consideration of matters so plainly inextricable and indivisible that a long and complex trial is an ineluctable necessity. But we are convinced that nothing short of a criterion of absolute necessity can justify the imposition of the burdens of a very long trial on the court.”

15] (v) I have found this a particularly difficult and vexed issue. Notwithstanding my faith in the capacity of juries to consider each charge in an indictment under proper directions, I have concluded that 85 counts in one indictment would simply be unmanageable…

Daily Mail, 30 November 1976 – Four defendants in Playland trial have some of their convictions quashed and sentences set aside reducing their overall sentence. While this would have occurred within the time frame of Sir Norman Skelhorne holding the title of Director of Public Prosecutions there does not appear to be mention of this in his 1981 Memoirs ‘Public Prosecutor’ (a reversal of much of the decisions of the Old Bailey when it sat in September 1975). Skelhorne however does have something to say on the Maxwell Confait case which may be of interest which I will also post here.

Malcolm Raywood, 43 lowered to 6 yrs to time served
Garrett Lane, Wandsworth [1975] —
Elgin Avenue, Maida Hill, London [1976] (PIE headquarters? j/k)
occupation: ***Photographer***

Andrew Novac, 29 – 6½ yrs lowered to 3½ yrs
Elm Court, Harrowby Street, Westminster
occupation: Taxi company telephonist

Basil Andrew-Cohen, 39 – 6 yrs lowered to 3 yrs
no fixed address
occupation: Taxi driver

David Archer, 28 – 5½ yrs lowered to time served
Odessa Road, Forest Gate
occupation: Security Guard
[1976] Plumber

The Bishop of Gleaves and Johnny Go Home photo 1 (16) photo 2 (16) photo 3 (14)

Three years after Mervyn Harris’ The Dilly Boys Michael Deakin and John Willis published Johnny Go Home (based on the highly acclaimed YTV documentary) in 1976.

It tells of Ernie “in his middle twenties, and 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.” (p.55) Ernie is ‘in a relationship’ with 10 year old Johnny from Elephant & Castle who bunks school each day to meet Ernie where they hung out at Piccadilly’s Playland Arcade until Ernie is put away for stealing a car to drive Johnny home one morning on one of his regular nights staying over with Ernie.

The Elgin Avenue Squat

The Elgin Avenue Squat