Eric J Thompson

1978: Tom O’Carroll writes to Antony Grey at Defence of Literature & Arts Society re ‘freedom of speech’

In 1978, during the passage of the Protection of Children bill through Parliament, and just as PIE were preparing to publish their Paedophilia: Some Questions & Answers and distribute the booklet to MPs pigeonholes in the House of Commons, Tom O’Carroll, Chairman of Paedophile Information Exchange and member of the NCCL Gay Rights Committee wrote to Antony Grey in his role on the Executive Committee of the Defence of Literature and Arts Society (‘DLAS’).

O’Carroll wanted to thank Grey for his support at the 1978 NCCL Annual General Meeting and “in Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 10.22.43relation to” the National Union for Public Employees. The NCCL AGM had taken place on 1-2 April at City University, a fortnight prior to O’Carroll’s letter.

“Dear Antony, I was pleased to see you the other day, and only regret that I had to dash off without having a chance to talk to you after the meeting. Allow me, however, to thank you very much for your support at the NCCL AGM, and in relation to NUPE etc.”

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Motion. 39: Freedom of Discussion proposed by Nettie Pollard and Bill Forrester

At the 1978 AGM which O’Carroll and Grey had attended, PIE member Nettie Pollard had seconded a motion proposed by Bill Forrester to ask NCCL to condemn the protests against PIE’s meeting in September 1977:

“This AGM re-affirms the right of free discussion and freedom to hold meetings for all organisations and individuals doing so within the law.

In particular this AGM condemns the physical and other attacks on those who have discussed or attempted to discuss paedophilia and re-affirms NCCL’s condemnation of harassment and unlawful attacks on such persons.” [Bill Forrester and Nettie Pollard]

Tom O’Carroll was responding to an approach made by DLAS to David Grove, PIE’s Children Rights’ Campaign leader and keeper of the PIE mailing list.

In June/July 1976 edition of Understanding Paedophilia (PIE’s forerunner to Magpie) the ‘Magnificent Six’ had been announced, with the following people undertaking the following roles for PIE

‘It’s the Magnificent Six’, p. 7
New EC:
Keith Hose – re-elected to serve as National Chairperson for the coming year
Warren Middleton – re-elected as National Vice Chairperson/PIE Magazine Editor
Tom O’Carroll – elected as PIE General Secretary/responsible for the formation of local groups/PIE members’ contact service/Publicity [See further: Did NCCL’s trawl of List 99 radicalise PIE’s Tom O’Carroll? Palaver #6 October 1976]
David C Grove – elected as Director of PIE’s forthcoming children’s rights campaign/responsible for distribution of mail
Charles Napier – elected as Treasurer/responsible for recruitment of new members.
Peter Righton – elected as Organiser of prison-hospital visits/general correspondence and PIE befriending.
Want applicants for Legal adviser and Director of Research. [Ian Pace blog]

DLAS wanted an article from PIE on the ways in which their freedom of speech have been muzzled for the DLAS publication “Uncensored” Tom O’Carroll nominates Keith Hose to write this for Grey.

Three years later, in a letter to Tony Smythe, Grey wrote

“ The drubbing which free speech, civil rights and common sense have taken over the PIE case is appalling. I always feared that Tom O’Carroll was hellbent on opening this particular Pandora’s Box, and so it has proved.” [See further: With compliments from Ian Dunn, and while you were out Tony Smythe called March 1981 ]

Seemingly, a fear precipitated by Grey’s own invitation, adopting the role of a self-fulfilling prophet of doom while bearing in mind Grey’s ego couldn’t bear not to archive these writings publicly.

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The Defence of Literature and the Arts Society (1968 – 1983)

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The Defence of Literature and Arts Society attracted sponsors from “the great and good”:

Lords, charity directors, MPs, former MPs, lawyers and even doctors such as Dr David Stafford-Clark and Lords who were also Doctors such as Lord Winstanley (apparently a staunch supporter of everyone else’s freedom of speech bar Mary Whitehouse’s when he commanded Antony Grey to pursue her to the end of the road if not further! [Dec 1976: See further blog post here]

Francis Bennion, Parliamentary Counsel and Civil Liberties Barrister

One member of the Executive Committee who served alongside Antony Grey and Eric Thompson was Francis Bennion, Barrister and Parliamentary counsel, who had drafted the constitutions of Pakistan and Ghana, the Consumer Credit Act, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, and the hugely successful reference book for lawyers on ‘Statutory Interpretation’. In 1968 he founded the Professional Association of Teachers.

On Francis Bennion‘s website : http://www.francisbennion.com/pdfs/non-fb/1983/1983-007-nfb-dlas-pamphlet.pdf

In 1979 Bennion wrote a review of G Parker Rossman’s book Sexual Experience between Men and Boys [Freethinker Vol.99 1979] [See further for Antony Grey’s meeting with Parker Rossman on his July 1979 trip to UK from the states and Rossman’s letter to Grey and more on George Parker Rossman’s 1971 arrest in the Long Island New York ring with Dr Morris Fraser ]

In 1983 Antony Grey and his partner Eric Thompson were still serving on the Executive Committee of the DLAS along with Michael Rubinstein (the solicitor who Sir Harold Haywood was dismayed at charging for his advice on suing Mary Whitehouse due to his “special interest in the Trust”).

Lord Beaumont of Whitley (former Albany Trust Chairman 1969-1972?) is also a sponsor.

 Ben Whitaker (former Lab: Hampstead MP 1966-1970)

Ben Whitaker was the Chairman of the DLAS and had been Labour MP for Hampstead 1966-1970 during Wilson’s first term, at the same time Dr David Kerr, a fellow DLAS sponsor, had been Labour MP for Wandsworth Central.

NCCL AGM Ballot Papers 1978: Biographies for candidates standing for NCCL Executive Committee

NCCL AGM Ballot Papers 1978: Biographies for candidates standing for NCCL Executive Committee

Brian Sedgemore MP (Lab: Hackney South)

Sponsors included Brian Sedgemore MP (Lab: Hackney South)

See further for Mark Trotter, the Hackney Labour agent whose abuse of children left some victims with AIDS with a history of abuse in Liverpool:

Ian Mikardo MP (Lab: East end, Bow, Poplar, Bethnal Green 1964-1987)

Ian Mikardo MP (Lab:  Reading 1945–50, Reading South 1950–55, Reading 1955–59, Poplar 1964–74, Bethnal Green and Bow 1974–83 and Bow and Poplar 1983–87)

“… the progress of the Child Protection bill was threatened by MP Ian Mikardo, who blocked it to protest against tactics being used by the Conservative party to block Edward Fletcher‘s bill on employment protection, the Prime Minister, James Callaghan, stepped in to ensure that the Bill received the time required to become law.[1]” [Wikipedia: Child Protection Act 1978]

On 12 May 1978 Auberon Waugh wrote ‘Save the Children’ for The Spectator  when Mikardo was MP for Bethnal Green and Bow:

“After all the recent hysteria about the Child Protection Bill, when Mr Ian Mikardo was practically accused of supporting the vile trade in child pornography, we have at last been given a chance to examine the Bill as it ambles its way through its second reading in the House of Lords. To judge from press reaction, and from statements by various opportunist MPs, one might have supposed that child pornography was a new and hideous development which somehow escaped existing legislation on obscene publication and protection of minors, while threatening to corrupt a whole generation of British schoolchildren for the unscrupulous gain of these merchants in human misery . . .”

 

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1974: Martin Loney calls for inquiry into Special Branch blackmailing informers – NCCL eject him

Antony Grey had met Eric J. Thompson, who became his life partner in 1960 when they were both living in Belsize Park, North London. By the early 1970s Eric, specialising in population planning, had become Chairman of the Census Research Group and Assistant Director of the Greater London Council (‘GLC’) Intelligence Unit and the pair had moved to Uplands Road in Hornsey/Crouch End, N8. Antony and Eric also sat on the Executive Committee of the Defence of Literature & Arts Society (‘DLAS’) together with familiar names such as Lord Winstanley. Since renamed the Campaign Against Censorship (‘CAC’) the group was originally formed in 1968 to campaign against laws on censorship.

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Guardian 7 September 1974

 

 

 

 

 

In 1968 Eric also joined Grey at the National Council of Civil Liberties, not on the Executive Committee but on the Standing Orders Committee (‘SOC’) which met four times a year to consider motions to put forward to the Executive Committee for the AGM each year.

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Report of the Standing Committee NCCL 1967/68

In 1972 Tony Smythe had resigned as General Secretary of NCCl to become field director of the American Civil Liberties Union and Martin Loney was appointed on 28 January 1973. Born in Bradford, Leeds, Loney had graduated from Durham University in Sociology and was working as Research Director for the World University Service in Geneva.

Loney, then aged 28, had barely been in position for a fortnight, appointed as General Secretary of NCCL in May 1973 when Thompson wrote to him regarding affiliation with individual branches of the National Association of Local Government Officers (‘NALGO’) which Thompson as a GLC employee was a member of.

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In the NCCL Annual Report 1973/1974 the Council believed that Northern Ireland was being used as

“a testing ground for military control of civil disorder” Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 13.17.45

with serious implications for Britain beyond the immediate concerns of ‘the troubles’ in that the ‘experiments’ may cross the Irish Sea.

[See further blog posts: Dr Morris Fraser, Belfast, New York Long Island, Islington and Savile, Dublin & Belfast: Time to re-evaluate his role in the ‘The Troubles’? ]

In September Patricia Hewitt joined NCCL has the first Women’s Rights Officer. [Liberty Begins at home, Guardian 12 December 1974]

Guardian 17 April 1974

Guardian 17 April 1974

 

Lennon said: Yard forced me into crime, 17 April 1974 The Guardian

Lennon said: Yard forced me into crime, 17 April 1974 The Guardian

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lennon had been on trial for the Winson Green plot in Birmingham Crown Court on Monday 8 April,Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 10.57.25 acquitted while his co-defendant was jailed for 3 years. Court testimony that Lennon had been “frank and honest with the police when they asked him questions” alerted the IRA to the fact that Lennon had been a Special Branch informer.

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Lennon said: Yard forced me into crime, 17 April 1974 The Guardian

On Tuesday 9 April he ended up on Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho and over a brandy told George Melly his rambling story of being blackmailed by Special Branch into informing on the IRA following being approached in Luton, Bedfordshire on the hospital steps where his wife was being treated for brain tumours. Born in Ulster, Lennon and his family came from a staunchly Republican border town Co. Down. Melly suggested Lennon tell the NCCL his story and so the very next day, Wednesday 9 April,  Martin Loney and NCCL legal officer Larry Grant found themselves taking a 17 page statement from Lennon as he recounted the events of Special Branch’s blackmail on him to enter into various illegal escapades while informing on the IRA.

By Thursday 10 April Lennon had been shot in the back of the head and was found face down in a ditch in Chipstead, Surrey.

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April 1974 NCCL Press Conference: Martin Loney Showing Signed Statement From Victim Kenneth Lennon (behind Larry Grant NCCL Legal officer)

On 16 April, 3 hours before NCCL called a press conference to demand a full-scale Parliamentary Inquiry into the activities of Special Branch in the days before Lennon’s murder a call was received at their offices threatening to kill 2 members of NCCL staff before the end of the week. Loney pressed on regardless with the press conference.

Two clues may hold keys to Lennon's last hours, 20 April 1974 Guardian

Two clues may hold keys to Lennon’s last hours, 20 April 1974 Guardian

On Thursday 7 June, Loney was sacked by the Executive Committee of NCCL chaired by Henry Hodge. Only 5 of the Executive Committee were shocked at the sudden turn of events.

Dr Jock Young, a lecturer in Criminology at Middlesex Polytechnic, resigned immediately sending a letter to the EC stating

“In all my years of political activity, I have never seen such a vicious hatchet job as that carried out on the NCCL General Secretary last night. If that is your committee’s idea of civil liberties, I’m glad to be out of it” [NCCL Split over sacking, Guardian, June 8 1974]

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Guardian 8 June 1974 NCCL split over sacking

 

Mr Morris Pollack didn’t resign but started to gather the 50 signatures needed to call an Emergency General Meeting to condemn the EC’s action led by Hodge and ask for Loney’s reinstatement. Those employed by the NCCL as staff (as opposed to the Executive Committee) were also very unhappy about the way in which the decision had been reached and executed.

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Guardian 8 June 1974 NCCL split over sacking

Tony Smythe, Director of MIND, had left the sacking meeting before the vote took place saying “I moved a motion to get everyone to withdraw their resolutions. It seemed to me that a bit of reconciliation was necessary. A number of very trivial arguments were put forward as reasons for the dismissal.”

After the meeting Loney said the E.C led by Hodge had “behaved with the sophistication  of a drunk on a bulldozer.” He said his dismissal had been pre-arranged and that Hodge, as Chairman, had only called the meeting because Loney had refused to be pressured into resigning privately. “I would not do the gentlemanly thing and resign. I thought the NCCL members should have a chance to know what was going on.”

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Guardian 8 June 1974 NCCL split over sacking

 19 June 1974: The ‘Emergency General Meeting’ & the Grey/Thompson machinations

By Wednesday 19 June over 50 NCCL members had requested a ‘Special General Meeting’ to ask why Loney had been sacked. 181 individual members attended the meeting and 139 voting cards were issued to affiliated organisations. The meeting opened at 10.30am with Henry Hodge in his role as Chairman of the E.C. of the NCCL.  Eric Thompson and Antony Grey attended, quietly seething at Hodge’s ineptness at losing control of Loney.

By 11.45 am the following motion had been tabled to be carried – the rest of the day was spent with various factions trying to amend or dilute the condemnation of the NCCL Executive Committee’s actions by its members in order to prevent Hodge and the 11 other Executive Committee members who had ejected Loney from being deposed with a vote of no confidence.

“Motion by various members requesting the Special General Meeting:

“At a time of increasing attacks on the fundamentals of liberty this Emergency General Meeting reaffirms the need for a militant civil liberties organisation. This meeting deplores the irresponsible behaviour of those members of the Executive Committee responsible for the sacking of the General Secretary. In view of:

a) the adverse consequence this had in the Council’s political credibility and financial solvency;

b) the divisive effect this has had on the Council;

c) the absence of any reasoned explanation for this action;

this meeting declares its lack of confidence in those Executive Committee members responsible. This meeting recognises that the National Council of Civil Liberties faces a difficult financial situation and commits itself to fight to preserve and extend the NCCL so that it can continue to play a key role in the defence of civil liberties.”

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Attachment from Eric Thompson to Mr Crampton 25/10/1974 reporting on the SGM to NALGO Branch Meeting

In Eric Thompson’s report to Mr Crampton, dated 25 October 1974 it becomes apparent how the Emergency General Meeting was manipulated. In the confusion of a group walking out and then returning Eric Thompson took the opportunity to move his amending motion to the above, seconded by Antony Grey (as Edgar Wright) which was carried:

Delete all after ‘deplores’ on line 3 and substitute:

This meeting deplores:

“the increasing weakness of the Council over the last two years and calls on the EC to take tighter control over the office and to give priority to building up a strong parliamentary civil liberties group and an active national civil liberties campaign.”

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Letter from Antony Grey and Eric Thompson to Henry Hodge June/July 1974

Having averted Hodge and the EC’s deposal Antony and Eric wrote a scathing joint letter to Hodge to make it clear they had ‘rescued’ the NCCL Executive Committee.

Together they reminded Hodge “the giving of priority to building up a strong and active Civil Liberties Group of MPs” should be acted on before the next AGM in April 1975 and that they had asked him and the EC to take “tighter control over the office”.

“We trust that you will be able to give the next AGM a positive report on all the above points, and that from now on there will be no divisiveness in making the NCCL into the strong and successful force which it must be if everyone’s civil liberties are to be safeguarded.”

As was to become the focus of the NCCL Gay Rights’ Committee in 1975, everyone’s civil liberties would include those of pedophiles as a priority.

On 28 November 2007 a curious comment was left under an article about Labour Party funding on The Guardian website by a Martin Loney, PhD:

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In November 1974 the Starrit Report was published clearing Special Branch of any wrong-doing in relation to Lennon’s murder, the Paedophile Information Exchange was established,  and Patricia Hewitt was confirmed as General Secretary of the NCCL (having been Acting GS since Loney’s undignified ejection). [Liberty Begins at home, Guardian 12 December 1974]

Lennon report clears police, 29 November 1974, The Guardian

Lennon report clears police, 29 November 1974, The Guardian