Monthly Archives: February 2013

Jack Straw, the law and 1984 – Opinion

Times, The (London, England)-June 23, 1998
Author: Michael Gove

Michael Gove defends racists, hooligans and paedophiles

“If you want a picture of the future,” O’Brien tells Winston Smith in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four , “imagine a boot stamping on a human face – for ever.” If you want a picture of our present, imagine a ministerial shoe trampling freedoms underfoot in a hurry to get to the microphone.

It may seem perverse to fear for our liberties the morning after Tony Blair and Jack Straw led their colleagues into the division lobby to extend the rights of man in the bedroom. They have, after all, repealed an Orwellian sexcrime which sought to police private behaviour. But this Government has an approach to freedom which in its very arbitrariness undermines the principles which safeguard liberty.

It is a point which would not have been lost on Orwell, whose collected works are to be published next week by Secker & Warburg. In Nineteen Eighty-Four , he forecast the creation of a new type of offence which would extend the reach of the State into the private sphere of the citizen. In the creation of thoughtcrime, Orwell foresaw a dangerously illiberal trend for our times.

Even as antiquated sexcrimes are struck from the statute book, new moral panics are bringing still worse laws in their stead. The individual guilty of a thoughtcrime is punished not for any act he may have committed, but for a propensity to com mit an antisocial act. It is not necessary to break the law to be guilty of thoughtcrime, simply to be in possession of a mindset which is judged to make criminal activity likely.

The first victims of this new moral tyranny are those whom no reasonable person would feel inclined to defend – paedophiles, racists and soccer hooligans. So I will.

When the convicted paedophile Sidney Cooke was released from prison in May after he had served his sentence, the Home Secretary thumbed his nose at the court which had tried Cooke and declared his sort were better off still behind bars. Although he could not physically prevent Cooke from leaving jail, Mr Straw promised to bring in legislation to ensure that his like would, in future, not only serve their sentence but could subsequently be detained for the rest of their unnatural lives. By his stance, Mr Straw encouraged the lynch parties which pursued Cooke across the country. Though he sought to wash his hands of their actions, the Pilate of Queen Anne’s Gate had lent them legitimacy. If Cooke did not deserve to be at liberty, then what was an honest citizen to do but take up the vigilante’s noose?

In order to forestall such unseemliness, Mr Straw had briefed the Daily Mail that he planned to bring in legislation in the autumn which would keep under lock and key, not just paedophiles, but all those who “cannot control their criminal habits”. The move, it was reported, was “designed to cover rapists, arsonists and those convicted of serial violence and assaults”.

It was not enough for all these undesirables to serve the sentences handed down by the courts. At the end of their allotted time, “indeterminate custodial sentences” would allow these men to be incarcerated if it was thought they might reoffend. In as long as it takes to call a tabloid editor, one of the sacred principles of British justice was crushed under Jack’s boot. We imprison people for what they do, not what they might do, or what they think.

It is a principle we should remember in considering the proposal to punish racist violence more severely than other violent crime. Why is one sort of hatred more deserving of punishment than another? Do I bleed more if my assailant’s skin has more or less pigment than mine? How, in any case, can we prove and then punish more severely racist intent, other than by creating a new class of thoughtcrime?

If we do not defend the principle that the law exists to punish wrongdoing, not the wrong inclinations, then all our freedoms are threatened. What is there, apart from the tradition of common law, to prevent the arbitrary labelling of individuals as undesirables and the imposition of restrictions which would look comfortingly familiar to a Stalin or a Pinochet? We might, for example, end up ranking certain citizens as risks to public order and restrict their freedom to travel. Well, we already have. Anyone with the branding “Category C hooligan” on his forehead can be subjected to pass laws, which control his movements without having to go to the trouble of convicting him of a new offence.

Aside from the folly of ranking hooligans in such a fashion as to create a super-class of troublemakers to which all boneheads will aspire in a perverted virility contest, this categorisation robs citizens of rights without recourse to due process. I am no friend of thuggery, but the law exists to be applied equally to all violent offenders. To make of one group a caste apart is simultaneously to feed their desire for notoriety and twist the principle that it is actions, not attitudes, which the law exists to punish.

It was wrong of the Tories to bring in this arbitrary suspension of the rule of law, dispiriting to see Labour applaud its use, and profoundly depressing to see the Tories now promoting further erosions of liberty in a debased auction of populism.

Where are those prepared to defend our traditional freedoms when justice’s blindfold is nudged aside to wink at the mob? As we contemplate the two front benches in Parliament, another memory from Orwell comes to mind. At the end of Animal Farm , the creatures outside peer in on those who claimed to fight for freedom; and as they turn from pig to man and man to pig, they cannot tell the difference.

Operation Orchid investigated the paedophile ring led by Sidney Cooke who were responsible for the sexual abuse of dozens of boys, and the murder of up to 25 boys including Barry Lewis, Mark Tildesley and Jason Swift.

££ SUNDAY MIRROR ONLY Sidney Cooke-1714038

Officers working on the case eventually managed to get Cooke to confess to Swift’s murder, but soon after the Crown Prosecution Service decided to downgrade Cooke’s murder charge to the lesser charge of manslaughter. This angered the victims’ families and police, who felt the original murder charge was correct and said “it was the judge and jury who should decide”. This is referred to in this documentary around 38:00:

When Operation Orchid ended, “detectives admitted that they knew there were up to a dozen members of the ring who had escaped prosecution“.

We now have a much better idea of who these other members of the ring might be, thanks to a former Operation Orchid detective who spoke to the Mirror.

A former detective who worked on the original investigation into Cooke told the Sunday Mirror that the minister was among those alleged to have been ­photographed in a 1986 police surveillance on premises where boys had been dropped off. Others allegedly included Jimmy Savile, MP Cyril Smith and top judges – though none of them were ever arrested.

In spring 1987, when the decision to downgrade the charge was made, the Director of Public Prosecutions would have been either Sir Thomas Hetherington or Sir Alan Green. I haven’t been able to establish the exact date in 1987 when Hetherington stepped down and Green replaced him. They were both a safe pair of hands for the Establishment. In 1981, Hetherington had taken the decison not to prosecute paedophile diplomat Sir Peter Hayman.


Sir Alan Green went on to preside over the unsuccessful appeals of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four, both among most notorious miscarriages of justice of the 20th century.

The decision to downgrade the murder charge resulted in Cooke receiving a sentence of only 19 years, remarkably short considering the horrific nature of his crimes. It seems likely that a deal was done to secure Cooke a shorter sentence if he promised to keep quiet about other members of the paedophile ring.

In 1989, the victims’ families received a further blow when the CPS decided to reduce Cooke’s sentence by 3 years as a result of an admission by Leslie Bailey, another member of the gang, that he was the ringleader. This was despite the fact that Bailey had learning difficulties, and all evidence pointed to he fact that Cooke was the ringleader. This resulted in Cooke being released from prison in 1998, having served just 9 years.

Leslie Bailey was later strangled in his prison cell. Another associate of Cooke’s, convicted paedophile William Malcolm, had bragged about being present at Jason Swift’s murder. After he was released from prison he was killed in an apparent hit, one shot to the head on his doorstep in East London. This doesn’t bear the hallmarks of a revenge attack, and looks more like someone making sure that he couldn’t talk about other members of Cooke’s paedophile ring.

The Times (London), 3rd February 1989

Evil trade of child sex ring corrupted 150 boys


An Oxford-educated barrister and three other men will be sentenced at the Central Criminal Court today for their part in Britain’s biggest child sex ring.

The evil influence of the paedophile service corrupted more than 150 boys. Many are now male prostitutes. One is so psychologically scarred he is detained indefinitely at Broadmoor.

The men preyed on children from boarding schools for the emotionally disturbed or educationally sub-normal and plied their victims with gifts of toys, trips to the seaside, money, drink and drugs. Other victims were recruited off the streets of London.

The boys would be passed from man to man as ‘sexual playthings’ and in the year-long police investigation a vicar and a senior official at the Palace of Westminster were questioned.

The prosecution said children as young as 10 were among those subjected to abuse over a five-year period, and that the charges were only specimens. Some became male prostitutes while others turned from being victims into corrupters themselves.

One aged 15 was picked up within 10 minutes of arriving at Piccadilly Circus after hitch-hiking from Glasgow. Police said some of the ‘rent boys’ were earning Pounds 600 a night and staying in West End hotels.

Senior detectives believe Operation Hedgerow, which uncovered 643 offences against boys, has only scraped the surface of the paedophile menace in Britain. They want a special squad to investigate child sex.

A 13-week trial in which filmed evidence was used for the first time in a British court to shield boys from their abusers in the dock ended yesterday with convictions for serious sexual offences for two men, Alan Delaney, aged 48, a company director, and Victor Burnett, aged 43.

Colin Peters, aged 45, a barrister and tax adviser, of Chepstow Road, Bayswater, west London, was a key figure in the ring.

The former Foreign Office lawyer took young victims into the sauna in his luxury flat and gave them cash for sexual favours and described himself to boys as ‘mother hen’.

At first he protested his innocence, but during the trial he changed his plea and admitted conspiracy to commit sexual offences with boys under 16, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and to an act of enforced gross indecency with a boy over the age of 16.

Det Supt John Lewis, who led the investigation, said: ‘There is no way we could deal with everything we came across as the group’s tentacles reached out into the Home Counties. We definitely have not solved the paedophile problem.’

Judge Pownall, QC, will sentence Peters, Delaney, of Shirley Drive, Hounslow, west London, Burnett, a mini cab driver, of Meredith Tower, Hanbsury Road, Acton, west London, and Ernest Whittington, aged 64, a Brent Council caretaker, of George Lansbury House, Harlesden, north-west London.

Delaney was found guilty of conspiracy to commit a sexual offence, indecent assault, taking indecent photographs, indecency with a child and an attempted sexual offence. He was said to have used his cleaning firm in Twickenham, west London, to recruit boys. Burnett was convicted of conspiracy to commit a sexual offence. He used used a Citizens Band radio to attract young people. Both men claimed the charges were fabricated.

Whittington pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit indecent assault and to three sexual offences. Eighteen young witnesses gave evidence from behind a screen during the trial.

Patrick Norris, aged 19, and his brother Sean, aged 18, of Holly Close, Kilburn, north west London, admitted conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Patrick was sentenced to 18 months detention and his brother put on probation for two years.

Evening Standard, 10th January 1992

IN HIS lifetime he led scores of teenage boys into the world of sordid sex.

Now police suspect a terrible vengeance has been exacted on Malcolm Raywood – the man whose exploits inspired the TV documentary Johnny Go Home.

Raywood’s savagely slashed body was found a week after he was murdered on New Year’s Eve in a half-way house for ex-offenders in Islington.

Police have appealed to London’s homosexual community for help in catching the killer of the 58-year-old man, whom neighbours claim ‘had a string of young male visitors’.

With few clues to go on, Det Supt Terry Mansbridge said: ‘There’s nothing really, except for the degree of violence used. But homosexual murders are often very violent. We could well be looking for a rent boy here.’

Raywood had a series of convictions for sordid acts against teenagers and was a prime target for a revenge attack. When jailed for three years at the Old Bailey in 1986, the judge remarked that ‘no teenage boy was sexually safe’ from him.

The Independent, 5th January 1993

A man was jailed for life at the Old Bailey yesterday for the murder of a homosexual who tried to pick him up for sex. Edward Hillhouse smashed his victim’s skull with a hammer and stabbed him 12 times. The decomposed body of Malcolm Raywood, 59, who had just been released from prison for sexually assaulting young boys, was found a week later in a King’s Cross, London, hostel.

The Times (London), 18th February 1987

Vice racket file closed

The police file on ‘Operation Circus’, the investigation into male prostitution in the West End, – was closed yesterday with the conviction of Samuel Bolger, aged 56, a chef, of Aldershot Road, Ash, Hampshire, who was jailed for 21 months after being convicted of living on the immoral earnings of ‘rent boys’.

He was the last of the last of 15 men to be tried at the Central Criminal Court since 1985.