1. Troyhand said:

    The jury in the “conspiracy to corrupt public morals” case brought in three Not Guilty verdicts at the Old Bailey last week.

    But failed to agree on four other counts. Three of the four men concerned from the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) will have to face a retrial on the remaining charges.

    The four men – Tom O’Carroll, David Wade, John Parratt and Michael Dagnall – were originally charged, on one count each (see the January 9 Peace News), with “conspiring to debauch and corrupt public morals”. In other words, they were accused of conspiring to do something which did not, of itself, constitute a criminal offence – a traditional tactic in political trials. The accusation spelt out in the indictment was that the alleged conspiracy came about with their publication of a contact page for distribution to PIE members, “intending that advertisers would thereby induce readers to provide opportunities for the commission of various offences.

    These offences varied from indecent assault, through publishing obscene articles, to sending indecent material through the post. During the course of the case, the lawyers agreed that the different degrees of seriousness of these “consequences” of one conspiracy might confuse the jury. So each of the defendants was instead charged with the same conspiracy twice – but in one instance referring only to indecent assault as the conspiracy’s inevitable result, and in the other instance referring to the two lesser consequences. The judge directed an acquittal of David Wade on the first count because he was less involved with the contact pages.

    David Tudor-Price, the prosecutor, opened his case by referring to paedophilia as grossly unhealthy, and by exalting “the old-fashioned virtues of self-discipline.” He said the four had conspired with others on the executive committee of PIE to publish the contact pages. Four prosecution witnesses were brought (besides the police involved in the case) – they had been PIE members. The essence of the struggle between the opposing councel was whether these witnesses could be shown to have been “corrupted” by their contact with PIE, or vice versa.

    After the judge ruled that “expert witnesses” – such as are allowed in obscenity cases – were not admissable, the only defence witnesses were the two of the defendants who went into the witness box, and four other witnesses – all essentially character witnesses – called on behalf of Tom O’Carroll. What was not raised was the idea that children are sexual beings, with the right to make up their own minds about their interaction with one another and with adults. In other words there was no attempt to argue a justification of paedophilia as such – especially not of its sexual aspects. But after all, the four risked prison sentences, and denying that the alleged consequences of their actions were either intended or inevitable was obviously the area to fight on. There was no allegation that any of the defendants had indulged in illegal sexual activity, nor that any was known to have resulted from the contact ads, so the defence didn’t choose to fight on stickier ground than it had to.

    The judge’s summing up was reasonably fair, and took about 2 1/2 hours on the Wednesday of last week, and the jury retired before lunch – as it turned out for nine hours. Eventually they could only agree to acquit David Wade of the one charge against him and John Parratt and Michael Dagnall of the first of the two charges. These two still face the second charge, and Tom O’Carroll is still due to face both charges. This means that at the retrial, Tom O’Carroll will stand accused on one count of conspiring with others, none of whom are in the dock with him. This is legally possible, but will surely not go down too well with the new jury.

    PIE still exists. For information, contact: P O Box 318, London SE3. The main group organising against this prosecution is Campaign Against Public Morals, BM 1151, London WC1N 3XX.






    Fulford was a founder member of an organisation called Conspiracy Against Public Morals set up to defend PIE leaders facing criminal charges.

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