South Africa

Trevor Huddleston & Others: Famous Mr X and the Rule of Law

Published ten years ago, Piers McGrandle’s biography of Trevor Huddleston gives another insight into the rule of law in operation when applied to those with a reputation deemed valuable enough to protect. [Scroll down for Chapter 24: ‘Collapse’ pp 151 – 160 at the bottom of this post]

In September 1979 on BBC Radio 4’s Talking Law programme, Labour Attorney General Sir Samuel Silkin (under Wilson and then Callaghan  during 1974 – 1979) referred to to one case in particular, admitting that special consideration had been given to the plight of the famous (see p. 156  Trevor Huddleston: Turbulent Priest, Pier McGrandle below):

“I won’t name the man for obvious reasons. The Director of Public Prosecutions came to me about some allegation in relation to small boys. Although it was entirely within his province, it was something which he could ask the Attorney whether to prosecute or not, he said.

I found that I was in difficulty as the man was very well known. If he had been prosecuted at all it would have ruined his career and his influence. Within the DPP’s department everyone though he would be acquitted though there was clearly evidence.”

This view chimes in tone and content with Sir David Napley’s later 1981 press-reported defence of his client, Sir Peter Hayman, and the decision of Attorney general Sir Michael Havers and DPP Sir Thomas Hetherington in deciding not to prosecute (ignoring for the moment Havers’ tortuous attempt to gloss the Post Office Act with some casuistic reasoning applied to what constitutes ‘solicitation’).

Napley asserted a ‘customary factor’ existed for prosecutors to consider when exercising their discretion whether to prosecute or not, namely:

“whether the indirect punishment and hardship which a defendant may suffer is likely to be so disproportionate to the severity of the alleged offence and to any penalty imposed by a court that it would be unjust to prosecute.” [The Questions Unanswered in the Hayman case, The Times, Ronald Butt, 26 March 1981]

If this was an accurate representation as to how prosecutorial discretion was exercised in relation to those with reputations considered worth protecting, it suggests we’ve been making a mockery of Dicey’s second tenet of the rule of law for some time – “none shall be above it” – since it divides the rule of law into applying to those with fame and those without. And the rule of law, divided, is by definition, no longer the rule of law. It ceases to exist conceptually.

There is an undeniable suggestion of a prevailing legal view at the time circulating amongst the government’s Law Officers and highly regarded lawyers such as Napley (former President of the Law Society) that those with fame apparently bear an additional burden for the prosecution to consider – a reputation that could be lost. For the rest of us mere mortals, our everyday ignominy would mean prosecutorial discretion doesn’t need to weigh fame or reputation in the balance.

When Napley’s customary factor is applied to exercising prosecutorial discretion in the case of a well-known accused like Hayman, the severity of the alleged offence is positioned inversely and directly on the scales in opposition to the size or magnitude of the accused’s celebrity or reputation (and it must be emphasised potential, but not conclusive, loss thereof as a result of a mere allegation, let alone a not guilty verdict following prosecution) in addition to any penalty imposed by a court. Therefore, the mere fact a well-known accused has a reputation to lose can weigh disproportionately in their favour, acting as a cloak or shield from due process or prosecution. In a double whammy, the more socially taboo the nature of the crime alleged, the more potential damage to a reputation if prosecuted unsuccessfully, despite and especially where the allegations relate to child abuse related offences.

However, considering the after-effects of prosecution for sexual abuse of young boys in context of the following:

(1) Sir Ian Horobin MPs (Con: Oldham East) ebullient bounceback from his 1962 conviction by publishing a poetry anthology with a foreword by John Betjeman in 1973 (nb. the curiously mournful comment ‘Even the elms are dead’), written during post-prison recuperation in Tangiers where boys could be preyed upon;  and

(2) Charles Hornby’s successful application for a gun licence just over six months after his release from prison for his part in the Playland Piccadilly Amusement Arcade Trial of 1975, granted by a Recorder who didn’t need to recuse themselves over a dinner party or two,

it appears the ill-effects of ‘loss of reputation’ can be very much countered by one’s well-placed friends rallying around so that life and even reputations may resume post-prosecution.

1974: Trevor Huddleston and John Junor’s spiked article

As a priest in Johannesburg Trevor Huddlestone had challenged the government’s apartheid policy during the 1950s becoming a leading light in the anti-apartheid movement. But by 1974 Trevor Huddleston, was an Anglican ‘suffragan’ Bishop of Stepney in the Diocese of London, and member of the Anglican religious order of the Community of the Resurrection since 1941 (Mirfield, West Yorkshire).

In 1970 Dr Huddleston found time to launch Islington’s Council of Social Service, a voluntary body established to promote the co-operation of voluntary and statutory services and the encouragement of linking together voluntary services


Islington Gazette, September 1970


On 3 April 1974 a mother had made allegations that Huddleston had sexually harassed her two schoolage sons. The recently appointed Bishop of London, Gerald Ellison, son of a former royal chaplain and avowed monarchist (in contrast to Huddleston) rallied round. Following an interview with the police in Trevor’s office the police indicated the matter would be left on the files and that a report had been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (Sir Norman Skelhorn). Trevor pleaded exhaustion and the Bishop “forwarded a plan to the DPP, saying that he hoped that a decison could be reached quickly because of the tremendous strain both on Trevor and the diocese which needed leadership.”

John Junor of the Sunday Express had sight of the papers prepared by the police and a story was prepared to go to print, with the advice of the Sunday Express legal adviser. However, the Bishop of London got in contact with the Prebendary Dewi Morgan, the rector of St Brides (the beautiful church behind Reuters old HQ on 65 Fleet Street, opposite the majestic black gloss art deco former offices of the Daily Express) who knew Junor through Fleet Street to set up a meeting because “Trevor’s sanity and life were at stake.”

” Junor told Morgan that he had seen the papers and was sure that Trevor was guilty. Later on that day, a version of the story was read out to Dewi Morgan by the Sunday Express legal adviser, the gist of which was intended to scupper trevor’s chances of ever beng promoted to Canterbury. In the event, the story was spiked – much to the relief of Trevor and his friends.” (p.154, Piers McGrandle on Huddleston)

While Trevor recuperated at a friend’s in Richmond, and then to stay at a friend’s holiday house in Scotland, cancelling all engagements until mid-September 1974, things did die down. However, 18 months later Private Eye published on Friday 20 August 1976:

“Sir Robert Mrk has been to see the Bishop of London, Gerald Ellison, over a most delicate matter. It seems that Sir Robert has become concerned over reports from his men about the activities of a certain London churchman. The pillar of the church, who has many coloured immigrants in his diocese, has been engaging in activities of a highly-specilaised, not to say illegal, nature. I will keep you posted about developments.”

Nothing more was reported until Sir Sam Silkin decided to speak frankly to BBC Radio 4 about the difficulties of prosecuting the famous, which was immediately picked up on by the Daily Mirror’s front page as ‘Famous Mr X and the Law’:


Picture 11Picture 12

“Silkin was then pursued by reporters from rival papers, asking whether Mr X was not a named politician, whose contacts with the police were chronicled. Silkin denied that the man was Smith and added that he was not an MP at all. But Mr Silkin did add that Mr X ‘was a well-known figure in community work” (p.156 Huddleston) prompting John Junor to write in his column during October:

“Former Attorney General Mr Sam Silkin must have known that he would be unleashing a storm of speculation when he revealed that during his term of office a man prominent in public life had escaped prosecution for sex offences against children because Mr Silkin and the then Director of Public Prosecution had agreed that he was likely to be acquitted – but would have been ruined by court proceedings.

For that could be another way of saying that the prominent man was not necessarily innocent, but that in any court proceedings it would have been his word against the word of the little children and that a jury would almost certainly have accepted his word.

So who was the man? To being with, the rumours centered quite unfairly on a well-known MP. Now it is suggested that he was someone high up in the heirarchy of the Church of England. Mr Silkin may still be unwilling to give name. But, if it were a churchman, should he not be prepared to tell us that in return for non-prosecution he was given an assurance that if the man concerned remained in the priesthood, he would never again be in a position in which he had to deal with children either in England or overseas?”

Interesting to note that Rochdale’s Alternative Press (RAP) publication regarding the allegations against Cyril Smith were actually denied by Silkin as being relevant to Mr X (being Huddleston) – did Silkin make any other reported comments regarding the decision not to prosecute Smith at the time to journalists?

Picture 13

Readers Letters, Daily Mirror, 1 October 1979


Huddleston’s obituary (written by former Albany Trustee Michael de-la-Noy) for the Independent stated Trevor was moved from Stepney to the Indian Ocean of Mauritius in 1978 to ‘hush up a scandal which will raise a few eyebrows today.”

All the South African intelligence service BOSS’s files on Trevor had been shredded according to Canon Eric James who searched for them when writing his biography of Huddleston during the 1990s.



Cover: Trevor Huddleston by Piers McGrandle (Continuum: London) 2004
















Barbara Kahan, Peter Righton, Louis Minster and Malta

Barbara Kahan pioneered the development of social work in UK with children and families, taking it on as a career from 1948 and its very inception. From the point at which she took her first post at Dudley in 1948  as Children’s Officer where she created its first local authority children’s home to spending 1951 – 1970  building Oxfordshire’s cohesive approach to social services, working closely with her husband an Oxford based child psychiatrist, managing Louis Minster (9 years before he was to become Director of Social Services at Richmond), as County Care Child Officer for Oxfordshire in the mid 1960s to taking opinion from Peter Righton report on Staffordshire’s Pin Down regime in  the 1991 report and championing distance learning education particularly for residential children’s care workers – a special interest of Righton’s.

Due to Kahan’s pioneering role, she is a person around which others have pivoted in their roles within their remit of child welfare whether for the state or charities. Despite Kahan’s formal retirement from civil service in 1980 her continued influence and kudos was demonstrated when she was asked to work on the Pin Down report 10 years post retirement, in her early 70s.

Her life’s work in essence was the transferral of responsibility for children in care from the government to the local authority. I haven’t yet read the Pin Down report in full but will need to. However, it’s interesting to look at her life’s work, where she spent her time and efforts and who she influenced, managed or sought opinion from during her career before looking further at the report.

As Ian Pace points out on his blog (featuring much detailed information on Peter Righton, some of which is featured in the chronology below):  “In 1981, Righton published his most blatant article to date, ‘The adult’, in Brian Taylor (ed), Perspectives on Paedophilia (London: Batsford, 1981), pp. 24-40. Drawing upon an unholy canon of paedophile writers, Righton made the case for sex with children being unharmful, in his characteristically elegant manner. No-one who read this could have been in any doubt about Righton’s inclinations (or the nature of the volume in general).”

Despite Righton’s public clues to his private life Kahan still invited Righton’s advice for the Pin Down report in 1991, speaking publicly In The Secret Life of a Pedophile (BBC’s Inside Story documentary – see below) about Righton’s explanation to her for his conviction for child abuse images and the shield his homosexuality gave him from the suggestion that underage sex was underage sex no matter which underage gender he was interested in.

Kahan concludes at 42:50: “I feel that perhaps I should have made the connections earlier, but the difficulty is that first of all somebody presents themselves in the way that Peter presented himself. Secondly, he took enormous trouble, now in retrospect to keep his private life from his professional life and thirdly one would have hesitated to extend ideas beyond the fact that he was homosexual into other fields, but in many respects he must be seen as a conman. He certainly conned a wide range of people in the social work world who I’m sure feel as upset about is as I do.”


[With many thanks to @snowfaked – Troy on Twitter, Spotlight On Abuse, @murunbuch and @ian_pace for much of resources signposted below]

Champions for children, revised edition: The Lives of Modern Child Care Pioneers By Bob Holman


The Secret Life of a Paedophile

Barbara Kahan speaking about her knowledge of Peter Righton in 1992 The Secret Life of a Paedophile

Barbara Kahan Obituary The Guardian , 9 August 2000

Barbara Kahan Obituary The Guardian , 9 August 2000

Tributes flood in for child expert

Oxfordshire County Publications (England) – Thursday, August 10, 2000
Author: This is Oxfordshire
Tributes have been paid to a childcare pioneer who has died at the age of 80.Barbara Kahan , the former Oxfordshire children’s officer, was described as ‘always on the side of children’.Her love for children helped shape the role of social services nationwide, and she was best known for her revealing Pindown investigation into abuse in children’s homes.She was educated at Cambridge and arrived in Oxfordshire in 1951.Her academic qualities, coupled with her compassionate nature, led to pioneering ideas that put the county at the forefront of a new approach to helping homeless, handi- capped and disturbed children.Former colleague Iris Goodacre said Mrs Kahan’s far-sighted persona meant that children adored her.She said: “She touched the lives of thousands of young people.”Dr Jean Packman, another former co-worker, said: “Barbara was fantastic and was passionate about children.”She worked tirelessly for their needs. They trusted her and many older teenagers often came back to see her for advice.”Mrs Kahan, who lived in Cassington, near Yarnton, worked closely with her husband, child psychiatrist Vladimir Kahan, who died in 1981.


Chronology of Kahan’s, Minster’s and Righton’s careers

Barbara Langridge was born in 1920 in Horsted Keynes Sussex to a family employed in the railways – Methodist upbringing

In 1939, aged 19 at the start of World War II she studied at Cambridge University, Newnham College and re-started the Labour Club there.

1943 – 1948: Factory Inspector, working for the government – hears about Lady Allen of Hurtwood and cries at the Curtis Report

1948 – Children’s Act

1950s – the growth of Child Care Officers and Residential Local Authority Care

In 1949 Kahan, now almost 30, became Children’s Officer in Dudley and the growth of Family Service Units focused on preventing families being separated. She had employed ex-PSU workers to do preventive work and expanded in 1952 and this led to family caseworker roles being created in Oxford City Council (next to Dudley, Oxfordshire County Council) in 1953 and the London County Council picked up the idea with the Kensington and Paddington Family Service Unit providing training for their two new preventive workers employed.

In Dudley Kahan had opened the first local authority run children’s home in 1949. She abolished corporal punishment in Oxfordshire homes in 1951.

Families and Social Workers:The Work of Family Service Units, 1940-1985. Contributors: Pat Starkey – Author. Publisher: Liverpool University Press. Place of publication: Liverpool, England. Publication year: 2000.
‘The message that preventive work with families could facilitate the achievement of an acceptable level of functioning, and avoid the separation of parents and children with the resultant call on public finances, was one that received ready acceptance among some senior local authority officials. Those newly appointed children’s officers who had taken on board some of the lessons of the PSU/FSU experiment, although stopping short of inviting the agency to work in their areas, found that by employing family casework methods they could avoid excessive expenditure and provide a high level of care. Barbara Kahan, who had been appointed children’s officer in Dudley in 1949, deliberately employed an ex-PSU worker, Frank Rumball, to do preventive work, 47 and she continued the practice when she left the authority a couple of years later. As children’s officer for Oxfordshire County Council, she calculated that George Harnor, the PSU-trained preventive worker she engaged in 1952, had helped to keep 50 children from 13 families out of care. Her experiment was watched with interest by other children’s officers, with the result that a family caseworker post was created by the neighbouring Oxford City Council in 1953 and posts for two preventive workers were shortly afterwards established by the London County Council (LCC). 48 The LCC workers were sent to the Kensington and Paddington FSU for training in casework methods, a further reinforcement of the organisation’s reputation. 49′ (pp. 85-86)
‘Public plaudits like these, which understandably delighted FSU, suggest that there was an identifiable FSU method and that it was the only organisation working in what was perceived to be a particularly valuable and appropriate way. Both assumptions were inaccurate. PSU/FSU may have pioneered a particular approach to intervention in the lives of problem families, but by the early 1960s it no longer had a monopoly on family casework, and the process of extending the practice to other agencies was already well underway before the Ingleby committee reported. It is not surprising that those who had experience of implementing it were quick to draw attention to the fact. Barbara Kahan, a long-time supporter of PSU/FSU-inspired methods of intensive work with families, pointed out in response to Ingleby that such methods were no longer a relatively unknown experiment. 13 She had employed PSU-trained caseworkers to do preventive work during her time as children’s officer, first in Dudley from 1948 and then in Oxfordshire from 1951. 14 In neither Dudley nor Oxfordshire did Kahan advocate the establishment of an FSU, but instead demonstrated that the methods originally associated with FSU could be transferred easily and effectively into a statutory agency. She argued that by keeping one family with three children out of care, a family caseworker would save the children’s committee the cost of his annual salary and justify his employment. 15 Although she was not hostile to voluntary agencies, Kahan believed that good local authority services were fundamental to the solution of family problems, and in 1961 urged that the ‘… door on which all can knock, knowing that their knock will be answered by people with the knowledge and capacity and with the willingness to help them’ which Ingleby had advocated should have children’s department written on it. 16 The City of Oxford children’s department and the London County Council (LCC) department of dealth had followed Kahan’s example and had appointed family caseworkers in the 1950s, 17 something that did not go unnoticed by FSU. 18 The organisation’s sense of its worth was further enhanced when those recruited to work with the LCC were sent for training in casework methods to the Kensington and Paddington unit. 19 Central government endorsement of the method had come in 1954 with the Ministry of Health circular ‘Prevention and break-up of families’, which suggested that local authorities might find it necessary to employ trained social caseworkers to meet the needs of some families. 20’ (pp. 100-101)
Daily Mirror, 22 September 1961

Daily Mirror, 22 September 1961

In 1955, already in Oxfordshire Barbara met Vladimir Kahan and they were married. As a child psychiatrist in Oxford she and her husband were to work closely together. Louis Minster arrived in the UK from South Africa this year too.
In 1958 Stan Gooch had not yet joined National Children’s Bureau and was working as a teacher in Coventry (source: Colin Wilson)

1960s – Annual Conferences in Scarborough, National Children’s Homes employ child care officers

 Within ten years or so of the first few Child Care Officers being trained up following Barbara Kahan’s perceived success in Oxfordshire, there were enough Child Care Officers dotted around the country to warrant holding the Association of Children’s Workers conference in Scarborough, Yorkshire in September 1961.
A child abusing MP was already causing problems for Macmillan’s government during 1961/62 and the cabinet reshuffle, the Night of the Long Knives. In 1962 Sir Ian Horobin MP was convicted for sexual assaults on boys at the Fairbairn Boys’ Club which wasn’t residential – although Sir Ian was in his bedsit on the premises on Barking Road, East London, where boys would be abused.
By 1964, a 32 year old Louis Minster was working as a Child Care Officer in Hertfordshire for the National Children’s Home featuring in a 1964 information film about the NCH home in Alverstoke. Arriving from South Africa in 1955 in his early 20s, Minster had worked in an Open Prison before becoming one of the first caseworkers for the National Children’s Home.
Stan Gooch, also 32, joined the National Children’s Bureau as Senior Research Psychologist in 1964 (cf. Colin Wilson
WHO CARES? (1964) (35 min.): col.
Commentary by Johnny Morris. Shows life in NCH residential child care projects, with particular reference to careers guidance and aftercare. Projects featured: Chipping Norton Branch; Edgworth Branch with the boys at work; Alverstoke Branch, its Superintendent Trevor Thomas, and a worker Dianne Dean, Elmfield School. Careers and aftercare staff featured: Miss Gautrey, Careers Officer; Mrs Hiam, Senior Social Worker; Louis Minster, Child Care Officer; Peggy Miller, Child Care Officer. Also shows: John Waterhouse, Principal; John Gale, a child care administrator. Junior boys are shown in one Home using a furnace to heat metal while making a wrought iron stand. [NCH Print & Media items list here – the Harpenden Highfield Oval home interestingly had a printworks in operation until 1970s]
From 1965 onwards, Righton established his influence within the world of social work and child care. He became a tutor in charge of a two-year course for child care officers at Keele University from 1965-68 (see Inside Story ); how and when exactly he had become qualified in this field, are who were his referees, are questions the answer to which remains unclear. [Ian Pace’s blog]
Within five years Righton is advising the Home Office.
Stan Gooch co-authors ‘Children’s Judgement of Wickedness: A longitudinal pilot study’ (1966, with ML Kellmer-Pringle) for the National Children’s Bureau.

1964, National Children’s Home Harpenden & Alveston

In 1966 Louis Minster, aged 34, was working as a Child Care Officer at Oxfordshire County Council now reporting to Barbara Kahan as the County Children’s Officer but by 1968 Minster had moved out of child care work (?) into a role as Community Development Officer in Liverpool, Lancashire.

Daily Mail 1966

Daily Mail 1966

Louis Minster, Malta Today video from press clipping

Louis Minster, Malta Today video from press clipping

Daily Mirror 19 october 1968

Daily Mirror 19 october 1968

Daily Mail 1966

Daily Mail 1966

For a flavour of the innovative style of work that was going on in Oxforshire, Barbara Kahan also worked with Lucy Faithful and Professor Christopher (Kit) Ounsted to pull together what was viewed as a model social services offering:
“Ounsted had wide respect for other professional disciplines which allowed him to share responsibility for children and their families with social services and occupational therapists. This was reciprocated. Thus, Oxford psychiatry, through the Park Hospital and social services in the city and county of Oxford (in collaboration with Lucy Faithful and Barbara Kahan ), was for a long period seen as providing a model service. These links were facilitated by the brilliant insights that emerged from psychosocial research.He and colleagues described some of the responses of abused children by the coining of the phrases “frozen watchfulness” and “gaze aversion” to depict reactions of such children to their abusive environment; and also the critical path of events which often led inexorably to abuse, derived from comparing the biographies of abused children with their unharmed siblings (with Margaret Lynch, Rhoda Oppenheimer and Jackie Roberts). Then Ounsted turned his attention to adopted families referred for psychiatric advice (with Michael Humphrey).” Obituary Dr Christopher Ounsted Times, The (London, England) – Tuesday, October 27, 1992
Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 17.44.03

‘The Guilt Cage’ Letters to The Guardian in reply to Robert Shields’ article on Approved Schools, 9 May 1965

'The Guilt Cage' Letters to The Guardian in reply to Robert Shields' article on Approved Schools, 9 May 1965

‘The Guilt Cage’ Letters to The Guardian in reply to Robert Shields’ article on Approved Schools, 9 May 1965

On October 11th 1968, Peter Righton (as Paul Pelham Righton), gave a talk at Shotton Hall, Peterlee, entitled ‘A New Deal for Children: Thoughts on the White Paper ‘Children in Trouble” (Paul Pelham Righton, A new deal for children Reflections on the White Paper ‘Children in trouble’ a paper given at Shotton Hall on 11th October 1968(Shrewsbury: Shotton Hall Publications, 1968); he also published an article entitled ‘The Need for Training’, F.G. Lennhoff and J.C. Lampen (eds), Learning to Live: A Sketchbook of Residential Work with Children (Shrewsbury: Shotton Hall, 1968),
From 1968 to 1971 Righton was a Senior Lecturer at the National Institute of Social Work, a government-funded educational and research centre.

The 1970s / The Home Office under Ted Heath’s Conservative government

1970 – 1971: Mrs Kahan moves to become Deputy Chief Inspector of the Children’s Department at the Home Office
Stan Gooch co-authors ‘Four Years On: a follow-up study at school leaving age of children formerly attending a traditional and a progressive junior school’ (1970, also with ML Kellmer-Pringle)
The report by Tom Bateman for the BBC Radio 4 Today  a few weeks ago made clear that as early as 1970, Righton too was already being credited as giving ‘considerable assistance’ to a Home Office report (Advisory Council on Child Care: Research and Development Committee; Community Homes Project, Second Report (London: Home Office Children’s Department, April 1970). The relevant chapter is available at Ian Pace’s blog here
Righton tried to introduce notions of ‘aesthetic’ appreciation into training including the growth of civilisations and primitive community studies.
1971: Mrs Kahan moves to Department of Health and Social Security as Assistant Director of Social Work Service until 1980. Her husband, Dr Vladimir Kahan published Mental Illness in Childhood, ‘A Study of Residential Treatment’ a piece of long-term research undertaken at West Stowell Hous, an in-patient (and therefore residential) unit for psychotic and severely disturbed children between 1959 – 1965, financed by the Oxford Regional Hospital Board. Barbara Kahan was acknowledged to have worked closely with her husband. Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 12.01.16
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The Finer Committee (1969 – 1973)

1969 – 1973: Kahan is sitting on Finer Committee on One Parent Families chaired by Sir Morris Finer which recommended a one parent family allowance when it eventually reported in 1974 to the then Secretary of State for Social Services Sir Keith Joseph. Richard Crossman was Secretary of State who had set up the Finer Committee in 1969.[New Scientist, Finer Points, 26 September 1974]
“The Finer Report into the needs of one parent families – called by the Observer ‘one of the major social documents of the century’ is published. Many of its 230 recommendations for improvements to single parents’ lives are proposed by the National Council for One Parent Families, as the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and her Child renamed itself in 1970.” [Gingerbread – Our History]

“Events in Britain have characteristically taken a more ponderous course. The Finer Committee on one-parent families recommended the establishment of a unified and independent family court in 1974. But the government demurred. Barbara Castle, then secretary of state for health and social security, recorded in her diaries being briefed by the then Lord Chancellor: “Elwyn was charming as usual and convinced me that the elaborate new machinery Finer proposes is just not on”.

But since Finer there has been a growing — if thwarted — consensus; more than 100 organisations have come out in favour of reform, including the Law Society, the nspcc and the British Association of Social Workers. The Family Courts Campaign, formed in November 1985, metamorphosed from an ad hoc umbrella organisation into a permanent pressure group.

What has put fresh hope into campaigning now is the arrival of a new Chancellor, Lord Havers. In his first speech from the Woolsack on 21 July he indicated his support for the principle of a family court. He had rather endearingly confessed that his views have been influenced by his sister, Mrs Justice Butler-Sloss, a family judge in the high court who is also chairing the Cleveland inquiry.

One straightforward problem is money. The Treasury, say campaigners somewhat grimly, will have to be persuaded. Lord McGregor, an Alliance peer who sat on the Finer Committee and has been a supporter of family courts ever since, points out that the Lord Chancellor’s department is traditionally a low spender, and requests for a special expenditure programme would hardly be welcome to the government.

But the debate about money is not so straightforward. Those advocating family courts argue that reform need not be as expensive as the government assumes. Research by Judge Jean Graham Hall suggests that a streamlined family court could bring about savings in court time, administration and legal aid bills.

Nevertheless, Lord Havers did say unequivocally in the Lords’ debate last month that an independent and unified family court with its own accommodation, staff and judiciary “is not one which my government would consider affordable.” Fear of extra expenditure may incline the government to some administrative tinkering, such as eliminating overlap between courts or designating part of the existing county and high court structure.” [Justice for families – 7 August 1987, New Society, Vol 81 – 82]

During the time at which the Finer Committee was producing its report, between 1971 and 1974, Righton was a development officer at National Children’s Bureau and head of two-person Children’s Centre (‘The National Children’s Bureau’, Evening Standard, May 12th, 1993).
“In October 1971, here listed as a ‘lecturer in residential care’ for the National Institute for Social Work, and ‘director-designate of the centre to be established by the National Children’s Bureau later this year’, Righton addressed a social services conference organized by the County Councils Association and the Association of Municipal Corporations, arguing for integration of social workers with residential home staff, and against too-frequent placing of those with social, physical and mental handicaps in residential homes. He also thought children ‘could be greatly helped in a residential unit’.” [See Ian Pace’s blog for Righton]
1972: Louis Minster takes up a role as Senior Social Work lecturer at Robert Gordon’s Institute of Technology based in Aberdeen – at some point during the 3 – 4 years before moving to Richmond as Director of Social Services in 1975, Minster was Deputy Director of Social Services, Sunderland CBC.
During 1970s and 1980s a 1998 report into Witherwack House was produced alleging 23 abusers at the home during those decades, a later Director of Social Services of Sunderland called Colin Smart having alerted police to allegations [The Most Secret Crime the man who fought for the abused and was gagged, The Guardian, 3 June 1998]
1972: This same year, Righton also had a letter published in The Listener (June 29th, 1972), in which he expressed his fierce objection to Lord Hailsham’s views on homosexuality (my profound thanks to Daniel de Simone for locating this); Righton would use claims of homophobia more widely to silence critics of his relatively overt exploitation of young boys. [Ian Pace blog post]
Also in 1972, Righton took part in a published debate with Antony Grey (of the Sexual Law Reform Society and Albany Trust, who would later fund PIE – see articles here and here), and Kevin O’Dowd over the role of therapy. At another time during this year, Righton shared a platform (New Society, Vol. 21 (1972), p. 60) with Keith Joseph, then Secretary of State for Social Services, and who has himself been named as an abuser according to at least one source (Matthew Drake, ‘Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet bigwigs named in Leon Brittan paedo files’, Sunday Mirror, July 24th, 2014) [ibid]
He also gave the David Willis Lecture for the Planned Environment Therapy Trust, at New Barns School, Toddington, Gloucestershire (where he would later become a governor, and which was closed down following a police raid in 1992), published as ‘Planned environment therapy: a reappraisal’, inAssociation of Workers with Maladjusted Children Journal (1975) (see James S. Atherton, Review of Perspectives on Training for Residential WorkBritish Journal of Social Work, Vol. 8, No. 2 (1988), pp. 227-229). From 1974 to 1982, his address was listed as 48 Barbican Road, Greenford (near Ealing, West London) (source Ealing Local History through Martin Walkerdine). [ibid]
Righton was part of the group (member number 51, and a member of the Executive Committee, by mid-1976 at the latest (‘It’s the Magnificent Six’,Understanding Paedophilia, Vol. 1, No. 2 (June-July 1976), p. 7), serving as ‘Organiser of prison-hospital visits/general correspondence/PIE befriending’; in May 1977, he stepped down from the committee (at the same time as Hose stepped down), by which time his position was listed as ‘Community Liaison Officer’ (‘Stop Press – Stop Press’, Understanding Paedophilia, Vol. 1, No. 4 (1977), p. 12).
From 1976 to 1985, and especially from 1976 to 1979, Righton published regular articles in Social Work Today, which are all collected here. Of particular note is his article ‘Sex and the residential social worker’, Social Work Today, February 15th, 1977, thus written during Righton’s period on the PIE Executive Committee. Citing a 1975 article by then Lecturer in Social Work at Brunel University Leonard F. Davis seeking to legitimise sexualised touching of children in care (Leonard F. Davis – Touch, Sexuality and Power in Residential SettingsBritish Journal of Social Work, Vol. 5, No. 4 (1975), pp. 397-411 – Davis himself acknowledged Righton’s advice in the preparation of the paper; he is listed as having ‘recently completed the Course in Educational Studies at the National Institute for Social Work’, so may have been one of Righton’s students), Righton argued ‘‘Provided there is no question of exploitation, sexual relationships freely entered into by residents – including adolescents – should not be a matter for automatic inquiry’. Amazingly, several responses to this were essentially sympathetic to Righton’s position (see letters from March 15th and 22nd, 1977; another by an A. Whitaker, published on April 12th, 1977, was sharply critical, but the editor added a note at the end disputing whether this letter accurately represented Righton’s views). [Ian Pace blog / my emphasis – underline]


1980: Gatsby Project Director: Kahan was a strong proponent of residential care for children, so much so that in 1980 she left the government’s employ to work as the sole member of staff for this project dedicated to recognising the skills of the residential careworker, raising their status and increasing their training. In 1991 the project was absorbed into the Open University. She was a great advocate of ‘distance learning’ for residential children’s careworkers.
During March 1981 the Sir Peter Hayman/Geoffrey Dickens MP ‘parliamentary privilege’ incident took place as Dickens starts to ask awkward questions and push for answers.
Published in 1981

Published in 1981

Spotlight Timeline: Sir Peter Hayman named as PIE member in the House of Commons

“The wider question for disquiet is what happened to the two individuals mentioned in Sir Michael’s statement who shared an obsession about the systematic killing by sexual torture of young people and children. They were prosecuted at St Albans – and conditionally discharged. Such execution of the law singularly fails to match the sense of public outrage.” Source: The Times 20.03.81

(March – May 1981 furore over Dickens MP use of Parliamentary Privilege) Why the DPP resurrected an ancient law to deal with paedophiles (The Guardian, 14/03/1981, Alan Rusbridger) Criticism as ‘judge made law’

The Sunday People don’t appear to have reported the Elm Guest House raid in August 1982 although under the editorship of (the later, Sir) Nicholas Lloyd (1982-1983) The Sunday People did publish articles in 1983. Elm Guest House: How a powerful paedophile network was covered-up for 34 years (August 1982)

But meanwhile in Putney, July 1981 – Royal Wedding, 9 year old Vishal Mehotra goes missing

Wednesday June 23 1982: Gossip reaches dog-walkers on the Common near Rocks Lane according to Jilly Cooper’s journals?

The Common Years, Jilly Cooper, p.290

The Common Years, Jilly Cooper, p.290

July 1982 – Geoffrey Prime PIE Spy charged

Seven weeks on from Jilly Cooper’s journal entry for The Common Years, news of a raid at an an address in Rocks Lane, Barnes breaks in the national press…

August 1982 – Elm Guest House Story Breaks…and is silenced

“Scotland Yard has denied there had been a cover-up to try to protect MPs and other important visitors to the house. They say the case is a routine investigation being conducted by officers from Richmond police station. Clients are not normally involved in investigations into brothels. But because a schoolboy is alleged to have been one of the major attractions at Rocks Lane police say clients must be traced.”

September 1982

October 1982

1983: Year of Elm Guest House Trial in April 1983
1983 – 1990: Barbara Kahan is working as an advisor to the House of Commons Select Committee on Social Services


Children who were evicted from The Hollies were sent 200 miles away to the Bryn Alyn home in North Wales, which is now known to have been staffed by paedophiles who abused countless children in their care. See Southwark Council and Bryn Alyn

The Hollies is now being investigated as one of 21 children’s homes and schools where Jimmy Savile is suspected to have abused children. BBC News – Jimmy Savile: Schools and children’s homes face investigation

1984: September 1984, Director of Social Services Louis Minster’s departure package from Richmond Council is discussed in an article in Social Work Today entitled ‘What Price Departure?’

Social Work Today, What Price Departure?

Social Work Today, What Price Departure? September 1984, Maggie Fogarty & Lynne Eaton

Maggie Fogarty and Lynne Eaton discuss the departure of two directors of social services, Minster from Richmond and John Briggs from Southwark Council who had been in situ since 1977 and had brought in police to clear the Hollies Children’s Home.
Minster was reportedly anticipating a £30 – 40k pay off lump sum with an annual amount of £10k approx as a percentage of salary. Conservatives were outraged in Richmond, a hung borough between the Tories and the Lib Dems. “Grave difficulties” between Minster and the Chair and Vice Chair of the Social Services Committee of the council were cited as the cause of the costly departure in an article (right) in Social Work Today. Minster states he will move to Paisley, Glasgow to work as a lecturer again in social work.
It is in 1984 that the National Children’s Bureau claims to have stopped working with Peter Righton in this article published in Social Work Today in 1992 following Spotlight: Peter Righton and the National Children’s Bureau
1985 – 1994: Kahan chaired the National Children’s Bureau, also Vice-President?
14 April 1987: Barbara Kahan is Director of the Child Care Open Learning Project – is this possibly where Peter Righton also works with the Open University and their paths cross to design this course to be delivered as part of a distance learning module for residential child care workers?
“The Open University announce 16 new honorary graduands including Mrs Barbara Kahan , director of the Child Care Open Learning Project. [The Times, April 14 1987]
The Times 1 October 1987 reported a luncheon held for the National Children’s Home Lady Henrietta St George was host at a luncheon held yesterday by the National Children’s Home at the Waldorf Hotel to help children in danger and families in need. Miss Angela Rippon, Miss Nerys Hughes and Mrs Norma Rose, National Co-ordinator of NCH Careline, also spoke. Among others present were:The Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne, the Countess of Lovelace, baroness Cox, Lady Murray of Epping Forest. Lady Buckhurst, Lady Murray of Gravesend, Lady Lucas of Chilworth, Lady Young of Graffham, the Hon Mrs Nicholas Soames, the Hon Mrs Charlotte Hambro, the Hon Mrs Jeremy Soames, the Hon Mrs Tatiana Bradford, Lady Vincent, Lady Ridsdale, Professor Barbara Kahan , Mrs Debbie Moore, Mrs Patti Clapton, Miss June Mendoza, Miss Joanna Monro, Mrs David Heathcoat-Amory and Mrs Richard Beckett.”
1989 February 5 The Sunday Times: A generation in the fashion trap – Childhood
“A million mothers have full- or part-time jobs today 300,000 of them with children under five and nursery school teachers report that many of the toddlers delivered by nanny, au pair, or helpful neighbour arrive with little idea of independent play. “That’s the biggest change I’ve noticed since I started 18 years ago,” said one last week. “So many of them now expect to be constantly entertained. When we show them something and then walk away, leaving them to get on with it, they look dumbfounded.”Access to such schools is increasingly important. With smaller families (two is the norm, four becoming a rarity, and only-children still inexorably on the rise), they offer the best chance for toddlers to make friends and see the world beyond the television.But despite quarter of a century of promises the target set in the 1960s was places for 50% of three-year-olds and 90% by the time they reached four no more than one in four gets a chance to try out the sandpit. Playgroups are only marginally more available, registered childminders can meet only 4% of potential demand, and day nurseries, common throughout the rest of Europe, barely exist.It is this kind of mismatch, between aspiration, need and actual provision, that tarnishes much of today’s childhood experience. To quote Partridge again: “It can seem bizarre to send `home’ a pre-term baby, after two to three months of highly technological and extremely expensive care, to an unmarried teenage mother living in a single room on `bed-and-breakfast’ with another child.”Such cases were much in the minds of the National Children’s Bureau when it met last week to set its agenda for the 1990s. In the words of Barbara Kahan , the bureau’s chairman, “the inequalities people inherit when `choosing’ their parents are worsened by the increasing gaps in society between the `haves’ and the `have nots”‘. And even for the haves, there are minuses to offset much of the plus. Everything they own may represent the best that sophistication can choose and money buy as in the photograph above but does it really compensate for the loss of yesterday’s fresh innocence and casual independence?”
February 20 – 24 1989, five years following the pricey departure from Richmond as Social Services Director Louis Minster’s career focus has become gerontology, or the study of ageing and the elderly and he attends a Expert Group Meeting as a representative of the University of Malta following the UN having established the Institute of Ageing (INA) on Malta.


April 1989

1990 onwards

“Allan Levy and Barbara J Kahan (1991) The Pindown Experience and the Protection of Children: The Report of the Staffordshire Child Care Inquiry 1990 Stafford: Staffordshire County Council 0 903363 49 6

This inquiry, established in June 1990 and reporting a year later, chronicles the development between 1983 and 1989 in Staffordshire children’s homes of a method of controlling children known as ‘Pindown’. It was initiated by a qualified social worker and sustained over a number of years by untrained staff who thought that what they were doing was sanctioned by an ‘expert’. Senior staff did not enquire too closely into the methods used because the county was under serious financial constraints and the methods appeared both to work and to be cost-effective.

It is probably best read alongside Cliffe and Berridge (1992) which chronicles what was happening in another county without the same financial constraints but with similar attitudes and beliefs about the respective roles of social work and residential care.”

Peter Righton gave evidence to the Pindown Inquiry in 1991 – see this article for that information [ Britain’s Top Kiddie’s Home Expert is Child Sex Perv, 17 September 1992]. This was of course long after his pro-paedophile articles in Social Work Today and Perspectives on Paedophilia (published in 1981), as well as his position with PIE having been made clear in an issue of Understanding Paedophilia – all of this is chronicled on Ian Pace’s blog here

1991: Letter to The Times from Lady Wagner

From Lady Wagner

Sir, Had the government paid more attention to the recommendations made by the Independent Review into Residential Care in 1988, some of the problems that have now arisen with regard to children’s homes in Staffordshire (report, May 30) might have been avoided.

The review covered all aspects of residential care, including residential care for children. Recommendation 16 said:

Information about the agency’s complaints procedure should be made available to children and parents. Children in all forms of residential care should have access to an independent advocate. Consideration should be given to extending the system of guardian ad litem to enable families and children to request a guardian ad litem to safeguard children’s interests.

The report also recommended that the Department of Health should draw up national guidelines for the registration and inspection of residential establishments and should give equal attention to standards of accommodation, quality of life and the qualifications of management and staff. It further recommended that to ensure independence and impartiality no agency should undertake the inspection of its own residential establishments.

Shortly after the report was published the Wagner Development Group was set up to try to ensure that the review was fully considered and conscious decisions made about its recommendations. It is still in being and one of its sub-groups is working on a charter for children and young people living in groups, under the chairmanship of Barbara Kahan .

Credit is due to the government for establishing the “Caring in Homes” initiative, with a grant of Pounds 2.2 million, aimed at improving life for people in residential homes by providing training for staff in homes, better information for the public in making choices and better management of homes among its objects. A conference is shortly to be held to make public the interim results of the work that has already been done.

Why is there sudden discussion in the national press about a service which should concern us all only at times of crisis? Must it always take a scandal to make the importance of good quality residential care for all who need it hit the headlines?

Yours sincerely,

GILLIAN WAGNER (Chairman, Indepndent Review into Residential Care, 1986-8),

10 Physic Place,

Royal Hospital Road, SW3.

May 31.

Very interested to note that :It further recommended that to ensure independence and impartiality no agency should undertake the inspection of its own residential establishments. following the number of investigation and re-investigations local authorities such as Islington Council (last count was 14, or 15 self-inquiries) have undertaken in the years since 1991 and the Wagner Report quoted above.

Pindown payments could reach Pounds 2m – Staffordshire childrens homes

Times, The (London, England) – Tuesday, August 6, 1991
Children illegally imprisoned by social workers in Staffordshire are likely to receive compensation of up to Pounds 20,000 from the county council’s insurers.Lawyers representing the 55 children who were subject to the regime known as pindown will meet on Thursday to decide whether to accept the terms of the offered out-of-court settlement which could total Pounds 2 million.Municipal Mutual, the council’s insurer, is understood to have offered a scale of payouts that would take account of psychological harm suffered by the children, most of whom were kept in solitary confinement in their nightclothes or underwear for weeks on end. They had only a bed, table and chair in their rooms and some of the children in care tried to kill themselves.In May, the 298-page Pindown Report, by Allan Levy QC and Barbara Kahan , chairman of the National Children’s Bureau, condemned the practice of “isolation, confrontaiton and humiliation.” A total of 132 children at four homes were held under the conditions.

In 1991 Barbara Kahan spoke at the National Boarding Week public conference (see Church Times, 4 October 1991)

In April 1992, just two months before the article was published, John Rea Price, former Director of Islington’s Social Services, moved to become the Director of the National Children’s Bureau having recently resigned after 20 years in post. In October 1992, not long after his departure, the Islington Children’s Homes scandal was exposed by the Evening Standard.

11 May 1992: Raid on Peter Righton’s address takes place (see report to the right)

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Peter Righton suspected of “trade” of young victims in Malta, 1993

Spotlight On Abuse: The Peter Righton report – In 1993 the William Utting report was ordered into Peter Righton and makes specific mention of Righton being suspected of ‘trade’ in young victims in Malta and Gozo.

Last month the Malta Independent (David Lindsay, 17 August 2014) published an article ‘Evidence of ‘organised abuse’ and ‘trade’ of young boys in Gozo resurfaces’:

“Judges, peers and MPs are among 20 prominent public figures who abused children for decades, a former child protection manager has said.

He told the British press last month that there is evidence linking the former politicians to an alleged paedophile network, and Lord Warner, the former health minister, said the allegations were credible.

The former child protection manager in Hereford and Worcestershire said: “I believe there is a lot of strong evidence, and information that can be converted into evidence if it is investigated properly, that there has been an extremely powerful elite, among the highest levels of the political classes, for as long as I have been alive.

“There has been sufficient reason to investigate it over and over again certainly for the past 30 years, and there has always been a block, and the cover-up and collusion, to prevent that happening.

“We are looking at the Lords, the Commons, the judiciary – all institutions where there will be a small percentage of paedophiles, and a slightly larger percentage of people who have known about it but have felt in terms of their own self-interest and self-preservation and for political party reasons, it has been safer to cover it up rather than deal with it,” he told the BBC.

“I would say we are looking at upwards of 20 and a much larger number of people who have known about it and done nothing about it, who were in a position to do something about it,” he said.

“Righton died without facing a criminal trial for the abuse of dozens of boys, whose abuse he recorded in sickening detail in his diaries, entitled ‘Some Boys’.

”Today, many questions remain over how Righton managed to escape justice during his lifetime. The same questions are being asked about Savile, Sir Cyril Smith and Sir Peter Morrison, which is why survivors and campaigners are seeking an urgent independent inquiry into organised networks of abuse by powerful individuals of the most vulnerable children in our society. “

The extent of Righton’s child abuse allegedly involved rapes, beatings and young boys being moved between paedophiles “like a lump of meat”, according to Mr McKelvie.

Children’s homes provided “supply lines” for child abuse and were targeted by “people in power” during the 1980s, he said. “Sexual abuse of children is a power drive, that’s what a lot of it is about.

“What I am suggesting is that it’s possible that people who were authoritative, powerful, in particular communities did sometimes have access to children’s homes. I had to fire two managers of children’s homes… for abusing children in their care.”

I do hope Maltese journalists keep asking questions….




Obituary: Barbara Kahan

Independent, The (London, England) – Thursday, August 10, 2000
Author: Allan Levy
BARBARA KAHAN was a leading figure in the world of child care for many years. As a children’s officer, a senior civil servant, as co- author of the Staffordshire “Pindown” report, and as chair of the National Children’s Bureau she made an enormous contribution to children’s services especially in the field of residential care. She built up a huge amount of knowledge and experience which she drew on in running organisations, doing consultancy work, sitting on a number of prominent committees and writing and lecturing extensively.
She was born Barbara Langridge in 1920, the daughter of a stationmaster in Sussex. She took a degree in English at Newnham College, Cambridge, and followed this up with a postgraduate diploma in social science at the LSE. Later in life she was to be granted a further degree from the Open University and an honorary doctorate from the Victoria University of British Columbia.
In 1943 she began work as one of HM Inspectors of Factories but by 1948 she was installed as a children’s officer in Oxfordshire engaged on what was to be her life’s work.The year 1948 was a crucial time as Parliament, following the Report of the Curtis Committee, passed the Children Act, an important piece of legislation which in part made provision for the care and welfare of children who were living away from their parents in residential and foster care. Barbara Langridge put all her considerable ability and energy into this aspect of child care. In particular she was absolutely committed to seeing that where possible children were not sent into the penal system and to approved schools.
In 1964 she was made President of the Association of Children’s Officers.In 1955 she married Dr Vladimir Kahan, a well-known child psychiatrist. It was a very happy marriage. Until his death they shared interests in travelling, music (she was a talented pianist), art, the theatre and entertaining a wide range of friends. They bought a house in Cassington, Oxfordshire, which they extended and turned into a fine home with a beautiful garden.
In 1970 Barbara Kahan made a career move from local government into the civil service. Her success was reflected in her appointment as Deputy Chief Inspector in the Children’s Department of the Home Office. Before child care was taken over in 1971 by the then Department of Health and Social Security, to which she was transferred, she became also a member of the important Finer Committee on One Parent Families.Kahan retired from the civil service in 1980.
She was a person of great energy and purpose, and there was no question of a quiet and uneventful retirement. Indeed the next 20 years produced a great output of work and wide recognition of her almost unique contribution. She was made an honorary member of the Association of Directors of Social Services, a Life Fellow of the National Institute of Social Work and served as professional adviser to the House of Commons Select Committee on Social Services between 1983 and 1990. She ran the Gatsby Project devoted to the development of residential care for children between 1980 and 1991 and chaired the Wagner Development Children’s Group between 1990 and 1993.
In 1985 Kahan was elected chair of the National Children’s Bureau and she was influential in building up the organisation and significantly expanding it. She was passionately interested in her work at the NCB and initiated, amongst other things, a successful residential care development project. She served until 1994 when she became a Vice-President. The Bureau owes a very great deal to her outstanding contribution to its work. Alongside her many activities Kahan also produced a stream of publications. She wrote a number of books on residential care for children culminating in Growing Up In Groups in 1994, a major contribution to the literature.
I first met Barbara Kahan in 1990. After being appointed chairman of the Staffordshire “Pindown” Inquiry into an unlawful regime of isolation and humiliation in children’s homes, I was given a list of names from which to recommend another member for the inquiry team. Fortunately, I chose Barbara Kahan . It was the beginning of a year’s work together and the production of the report The Pindown Experience and the Protection of Children (1991).It was also the beginning of a long and happy friendship only ended by her death. The inquiry, the first major one into residential care, gained immensely from her great knowledge, her practical experience, and her wise assessment of people and events. The work of the inquiry involved long hours and periods of intense pressure and activity. I learnt with some surprise that my colleague was then 70 years of age. She was to keep up the same pace for the next 10 years of her life: acting as an expert, lecturing, writing, conducting inquiries, sitting on committees, and dispensing good advice.When the history of child care in the 20th century is written, Barbara Kahan will be seen as an important figure. For just over 50 years she was totally committed to improving children’s services and ensuring that children living away from home were properly cared for. Many people and organisations owe a very great deal to her abilities, energy, caring qualities, courage, and in the last analysis her humanity.
Barbara Joan Langridge, child care consultant and social worker: born Horsted Keynes, Sussex 18 March 1920; HM Inspector of Factories 1943-48; local government children’s officer 1948-70; Deputy Chief Inspector, Children’s Department, Home Office 1970-71, DHSS 1971-80; Director, Gatsby Project 1980-91; Professional Adviser to House of Commons Select Committee on Social Services 1983-90; Chair, National Children’s Bureau 1985-94, Vice- President 1994-2000; married 1955 Dr Vladimir Kahan (died 1981); died Oxford 6 August 2000.


Barbara Kahan – Obituary

Times, The (London, England) – Thursday, August 10, 2000
Barbara Kahan , OBE, social worker, was born on March 18, 1920. She died on August 6 aged 80.Influential social worker who insisted that residential care for children should be improved because adoptions often break downIn 1991 Barbara Kahan and Alan Levy, QC, published the so-called “pindown report” into abuse in children’s homes in Staffordshire. This detailed horrific abuse by the staff and neglect by management, and caused a national scandal. A more general inquiry into the sorry state of residential care was then commissioned, and produced equally disturbing findings, all of which played their part in the present alarm about the widespread mistreatment of children.
The current attempt to improve such homes, entitled “Quality Protects”, reinforces the lifelong belief of Barbara Kahan that it is essential for both children and society that they should be staffed not by people who would otherwise be stacking shelves, but by properly trained, remunerated and esteemed specialists.During her career as a children’s officer, residential care became less and less popular with local authorities and voluntary agencies, which came to favour adoption or fostering (partly because they are assumed to be cheaper). But Kahan pointed out that all too often these arrangements break down, and argued that good residential care might well be better for children than a long series of disappointments in foster-homes.
Yet she saw preventative work as the essence of her practice in Oxfordshire’s children’s department. She always tried to keep families together, which was itself unusual at a time when professional wisdom dictated that some children were better off without their families so that they could start again in adoptive homes or residential care. More recent statistics show that Kahan was right: children whose parents stay together do better at school, have fewer behavioural and mental problems, are healthier, earn more and even live longer than those whose families break up.
For this reason the 1989 Children’s Act gives local authorities a primary responsibility to keep families together wherever possible.
Barbara Joan Langridge was born at Horsted Keynes, West Sussex, into a modest Methodist railwayman’s family with a respect for education, a strong sense of social justice and a taste for Labour politics. In 1939 she won a state scholarship to Cambridge, where she read English. When she graduated she switched to the London School of Economics (billeted in Cambridge during the war) to earn her social science diploma. She worked as a factory inspector before finding her metier as a children’s officer, first in Dudley from 1948, where she opened the authority’s first children’s home, and then in Oxfordshire from 1950 to 1970. She abolished corporal punishment in Oxfordshire homes in 1951, and pioneered imaginative fostering schemes. Kahan herself had a deep rich voice which must have been immensely reassuring to a nervous child.When she became engaged to the child psychiatrist Vladimir Kahan, who had been born in London of a Polish-Latvian shipping family, he took her as a pillion passenger on an extended motorbike tour of France, to prove her mettle. She must have passed the test, for they were married in 1955.Kahan was one of those who urged that children in trouble were not depraved but deprived, and she pushed for the Children and Young Persons Act of 1969, which instituted the welfare model of help rather than punishment. As delinquency rates have risen, this philosophy has come in for much criticism – culminating in John Major’s petulant remark “society needs to condemn a little more and understand a little less” – but Kahan remained an unabashed liberal. She also lobbied for the replacement of approved schools or Borstals by the less prison-like residential community schools.In the 1960s she campaigned with the Association of Children’s Officers to bring together what were then three separate operations – the children’s, mental health and welfare (old people) departments – so that for people in trouble there would be “one door on which to knock”. This was done with the creation of local social services departments in 1970.It turned out, however, to be a mixed blessing, because specialised training tended to be replaced by a bit of one thing and a bit of another, topped up with a dose of sociology. Kahan came to feel that the skills of childcare workers had been lost in these all-purpose agencies, and that too few people were dedicated to the needs of children. As a manager she knew how to bring on gifted staff, many of whom went on to direct social services departments.Her relentless defence of her own department’s interests in Oxfordshire had not always been popular, and probably denied her the chance to become the county’s first director of social services. But she was appointed deputy chief inspector of the Home Office’s children’s department in 1970. The following year she became assistant director of what was then the social work service at the Department of Health and Social Security.Retiring from that in 1980, Kahan became director of the charitably funded Gatsby Project. At the time only 20 per cent of those caring for the 30,000 children then in residential care had had any training at all. The Gatsby Project instigated long-distance training for residential childcare staff, the most undervalued group of social care workers. It was so successful that in 1991 it was taken over by the Open University, although even now less than half of those in such homes have been trained. The medium was new, but Kahan had long promoted the idea of better training for residential staff to develop specialist skills and enhance their standing.Barbara Kahan was a member of the Finer committee on single-parent families, 1969- 73, and a professional adviser to the Commons select committee on social services, 1983-90. From 1985 to 1994 she chaired the National Children’s Bureau and she was its vice-president at the time of her death.As well as the pindown report, she published Childcare Research, Policy and Practice in 1989 and Growing Up in Groups in 1994. She was appointed OBE in 1990.She had a gargantuan appetite for work, but enjoyed many other things too, and was amusing and provocative company, as eager to swap gossip and argue as she was to discuss the latest novels. She and her husband had a great love of music and had two grand pianos end to end in their drawing room, on which to play duets.Her husband died in 1981. Money from her estate is being used to establish a trust to support children in care or leaving care.”
Church Times, 4 October 1991 (promotion for Boarding School Week)

Church Times, 4 October 1991 (promotion for Boarding School Week)

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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

photo 1 (13)

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

“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’

photo 1 (13)photo 2 (13)


“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.”

photo 3 (11)

Inside Sleeve

photo 4 (5)


photo 5 (3)

second page of preface

Chapter 5: Sexual Encounters


photo 2 (14) photo 3 (12) photo 4 (6)

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.

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



[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.


[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