The Playland Cover-Up

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.”

Daily Mail, 30th November 1976

Mail301176News of the World, 24th February 1985

NOTW240285a NOTW240285bDaily Mail, 20th September 1975

Mail200975Daily Express, 20th September 1975

Exp20975Daily Mirror, 23rd September 1975

Mirror23975Daily Express, 23rd September 1975

Exp23975b Exp23975


  1. Troyhand said:
    21 December 1976 → Written Answers (Commons) → HOME DEPARTMENT

    “Playland,” Piccadilly

    HC Deb 21 December 1976 vol 923 cc137-8W

    Mr. Arthur Lewis asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will arrange for an independent investigation into the complaints made by Mr. David Archer, arising out of the Piccadilly Playland call-boy case.

    Mr. Merlyn Rees: “No, but I understand from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that he is arranging for the investigation of complaints against the police made by Mr. Archer while in custody. In addition, now that138W the case is no longer sub judice, I will write as soon as possible to my hon. Friend about the outstanding matters raised in the correspondence he has sent me.”

  2. Troyhand said:
    Night Birds: Indian Prostitutes from Devadasis to Call Girls
    K. Lakshmi Raghuramaiah
    Chanakya Publications, 1991

    [Page 4]
    Wealthy socialite Charles Nicolas Hornby, who had everything going for him, has been jailed for involvement in a call boy racket operated from a pinball arcade named “Playland” in Piccadilly Circus.

    Justice Alan King-Hamilton, sending the Eton-educated, Lloyds Insurance underwriter to prison for two and a half years, and fining him £1000, said that the whole Piccadilly Circus area was a scandal.
    Hornby, 36, pleaded guilty to plotting to procure acts of gross indecency, committing such acts and attempting to pervert justice by bribing witnesses.

    Four other men described by the prosecution as homosexual touts who supplied runaway boys to Hornby and other wealthy clients also were jailed for procurement, gross indecency and living off prostitution. Their prison terms ranged from two and a half to six and a half years.

    Prosecutor Michael Corkery said the touts worked the Playland Arcade to trap runaway — homeless, friendless and penniless on the streets of London — with promises of money, meals and shelter and then lured them into homosexual prostitution.

    It is unfortunate however, that for ages it is only women who have been branded and isolated as prostitutes…

  3. Troyhand said:

    Sir Simon Hornby was Charles Hornby’s brother

    Simon’s wedding guests
    Shipbourne – Cazalet Wedding 1968

    No title. Cazalet wedding – Sharon Cazalet, daughter of Queen Mother’s racehorse trainer, Captain Peter Cazalet marries Simon Hornby, Shipbourne, Kent.

    Various shots film stars Noel Coward, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton arriving for the wedding of Sharon Cazalet and Simon Hornby. Panning shot of Queen Mother accompanied by the Archdeacon of Tonbridge followed by Princess Margaret and the Rector of Frant. Camera pans as they walk into church. M/S bride and father walking into church. M/S crowd looking. L/S church and crowd outside. M/S bride and groom coming through door. C/U Bride with groom. Rear view happy couple being photographed. C/U photographers. M/S bride and groom walking towards camera.

    C/U Queen Mother leaving the church. C/U Princess Margaret leaving with the Rector of Frant. C/U of the bridge. M/S Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. C/U Queen Mother. C/U people clapping. C/U Richard Burton leaving church. C/U Liz Taylor and Noel Coward. M/S crowd surrounding Liz Taylor and Richard Burton.

  4. Troyhand said:!topic/
    Godchildren of the Duchess of Cornwall [Camilla: Mrs Big-ears] – 2/15/05

    The future Duchess of Cornwall has how many godchildren?…

    Nicholas Hornby

    the infant son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hornby was christened Nicholas
    Michael 10 March 1968, Captain Andrew Parker Bowles was among the godparents

  5. Troyhand said:
    guilty pleasures (summer reading)

    jake arnott’s johnny come home

    set in the london of the early 1970s, jake arnott’s johnny come home features true-life plot elements involving the angry brigade and the stoke newington 8 defence committee, references to david bowie and guy debord, ziggy stardust and the situationist international, plus a glam rock star patently derived from gary glitter.

    it’s a fast and entertaining story, and arnott’s eye for the shabby and the insincere conveys an atmosphere not that much different from that in his trilogy of crime novels (the long firm, he kills coppers and truecrime, all loosely based on the lives and works of the krays), with much of the narrative influenced by a policeman who could be a literary descendant of balzac’s vautrin: detective sergeant walker of the bomb squad reads up on the political literature of the day, such as society as spectable, in order to better turn angry brigade cell members into informers.

    the first edition of johnny come home was withdrawn in the u.k., because of a legal challenge to the depiction of a slimy bandleader named tony rocco: the actual former bandleader named tony rocco objected to the character’s name. presumably gary glitter decided “johnny chrome” wasn’t a direct enough allusion to bring litigation — or maybe being imprisoned in thailand accounts for his silence.

    and speaking of names, we learn on the last page that the real name of the rent boy “sweet thing” is stewart laing: presumably “laing” after the 1960s anti-psychiatry guru r.d. laing, and possibly “stewart” as an oblique homage to another great writer of underworld london, stewart home — “home” as in “johnny come home.” “Sex, drugs and Judas”
    By Michael Arditti
    Friday, 14 April 2006

    The 1970s Yorkshire TV documentary Johnny Go Home shocked the nation with its portrait of teenage runaways forced into prostitution in places such as the Playland amusement arcade in Piccadilly Circus. Jake Arnott plays on memories of it in his new novel, the evocatively titled Johnny Come Home, which offers a vivid exploration of the seedy sexual and political underbelly of Seventies London, a decade in which “all the hope and optimism of the sixties seemed to have burnt out into bitterness and powerless rage”.

    Playland itself features in the book as the favourite haunt of Sweet Thing, an abused and abusive 17-year old, whose “body was trade, he was business made flesh,” and who sees Gay Liberation as meaning that boys like him should give sex away for free. He is the hub of the novel, around which the three other main characters turn. They are Pearson, a young painter who has been sucked into the nihilistic world of his lover, O’Connell; Nina, a bisexual known as Betty Bothways, who shares his squat; and Johnny Chrome nee Savage nee Rebel nee Evans, a tortured glam rock star.

    Sex is a tawdry business in this world. Sweet Thing uses his body as a means of both self-validation and revenge. Johnny as a youth was debauched by the impresario, Larry Parnes and is later taken by his manager to a Surrey disco where a group of predatory pop figures prepare, Jonathan King-like, to “groom” the teenage boys. Pearson has been seduced by O’Connell and moves in with him, only to find himself subjected to the ultimate rejection when O’Connell commits suicide.

    O’Connell is the book’s most enigmatic and fascinating character, an anarchist and would-be novelist on the fringes of the Angry Brigade, who identifies with Judas. Unlike many good writers who portray bad writers, Arnott has the courage of his descriptions and includes long passages of O’Connell’s atrocious prose. It is Pearson’s discovery of O’Connell’s treachery that leads him to take the action which forms the novel’s climax.

    Johnny Come Home is a beautifully observed and brilliantly paced book. As in his best-selling Long Firm trilogy, it is Arnott’s evocation of period that constitutes his strongest suit as a writer. He is utterly convincing in his depiction of the quirks of an era in which drug-dealers sell “dope in ounces and speed in grams” and Biba is the easiest place to shoplift in London.

  6. Troyhand said:
    Daily Mirror – 12 October 1974

    A newspaper photographer, a child welfare officer and an American scientist were members of a vice ring, an Old Bailey judge heard yesterday.

    At their homosexual orgies young boys were paraded as slaves.

    The boys were attracted to the home of photographer Ronald Fortune because it had a shooting gallery.

    Many of the boys were indecently assaulted at Fortune’s home in Darrick Wood Road, Orpington.

    Fortune, 54, was jailed for five years.

    Child-care officer Brian Johnson, 44, of Gladstone Road, Colchester, was jailed for six years.

    Scientist George Jacobs, 43, of Elm Park Gardens, West Kensington, was given a two-year sentence.
    National Archives

    This record is closed
    Closed For 86 years
    Opening date: 01 January 2064

    Reference: MEPO 26/344

    George Wayne JACOBS, Ronald William FORTUNE and Brian Arthur JOHNSON: convicted of indecent assaults on three boys at Orpington, Kent, in May 1974. Ian BELL and Peter Frank HICKMAN, members of the same paedophile gang, convicted of indecent assaults on other boys. Orderable at item level.

    Note: The naming of a defendant within this catalogue does not imply guilt

    Date: 1974 Jan 01 – 1977 Dec 31

    Held by: The National Archives, Kew

    Former references: in its original department: CR 209/74/130

    Closure status: Closed Or Retained Document, Open Description

    Access conditions: Closed For 86 years

    FOI decision date: 2006

    Exemption 1: Personal information where the applicant is a 3rd party

    Exemption 2: Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992

    Record opening date: 01 January 2064

    Jacobs, George Wayne

    “How to get along in Portugal and Spain” by George Wayne Jacobs ( Book )
    2 editions published in 1966 in English

    “A certain freedom : an unbuttoned look at boyhood in PORTUGAL (including Madeira) where growing up is nearly always fun” by George Wayne Jacobs ( Book )
    1 edition published in 1968 in English
    The Day – 16 September 1970
    Missing: 1 Elk, $25,000 Collar

    JACKSON, Wyo. – Missing: One female elk in northwest Wyoming. Wearing large collar valued at $25,000. Answers to name “Monique.” If sighted, please notify the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

    Monique, a 500-pound cow elk custom-fitted April 1 with a bulky electronic collar, hasn’t been in contact with space scientists since shortly after June 1.

    Her collar is packed with intricate electronic gear, designed especially for twice-daily contacts with an overhead satellite. Among other things, the project was to demonstrate how an animal could be tracked from summer to winter range with a satellite.

    Dr. Frank Craighead Jr., directing the experiment from his science laboratory at Moose, Wyo., said he believes the loss of contact is from a malfunction in the electronic collar.

    ***Dr. George Jacobs of the Goddard Space Center**** in Greenbelt, Md., said the short-lived experiment proved that electronic tracking is possible and now wants to expand the experiment to animals other than elk.

    Click to access 19720011422.pdf

    FINAL REPORT – 1969
    Research to Determine the Role of Gravity in Neurosecretory Physiology

    [Page 2]

    …The work was initiated by the Biological Sciences Division, Office of Space Sciences and Application, where the scientific officer was Dr. George Jacobs…

  7. Troyhand said:,2414620
    The Age – 12 July 1972
    Curses! – Massies secret is out

    LONDON – Daily Mail deputy sports editor Ken Haskell reports that when Gwynn walked into his office and claimed he had solved the mystery of Massie’s bowling, he didn’t believe him.

    Haskell sent reporter Brian Scovell and ***photographer Ronald Fortune*** to Leicester last week to try out Gwynn’s theories.

    Yoko Ono Avant-garde Artist And Widow Of John Lennon Pictured Getting Into A Black Bag. Bag Piece Is One Of Ono’s Exhibits At
    BW7KX7 © Ronald Fortune / Daily Mail / Rex Features

    Date taken
    29th September 1966

    Mr Edward Heath Celebrates With Crew And Wifes & Girlfriends Of Yacht Which Won Australian Race. L-r: Owen Parker Sammy Sampson
    BW7R5A © Ronald Fortune / Daily Mail / Rex Features /Alamy

    Date taken
    4th February 1993
    [I would bet this was really taken in 1973]

  8. Troyhand said:
    Des Moines Register – 24 September 1975

    Wealthy socialite Charles Nicholas Hornby, 36, was sentenced in London to 2½ years in jail and fined $2,200 for participating in a male prostitution ring that preyed on runaway boys. Four accomplices — ***a photographer, a taxi company operator, a taxi driver and a security guard*** — were sentenced to terms ranging from 5½ to 6½ years.

    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,300838&dq=&hl=en
    Montreal Gazette – 2 October 1975
    Castration for sex offenders” Is it really an option; does it work?
    By Sandy Fawkes

    LONDON – Last week one of the five men involved in a London vice case asked to be chemically castrated. David Archer, convicted of several homosexual charges, asked the Old Bailey judge if he could be sentenced after he had female hormones implanted in his body, an operation designed to reduce the male sex drive. The judge refused and sentenced him to 5½ years jail.

    Unlike Mr. Archer, three middle-aged American men in San Diego have had their requests for castration granted. But to escape 20-year jail sentences for child molesting and rape, all three sex offenders will have to submit to an operation which removes their testicles.

    The practice of allowing men “to barter their testicles for freedom” has just been condemned by the World Health Organization. Its report on the treatment of prisoners and detainees strongly opposes both physical castration and what it calls “hormonal emasculation.”

    The report points out that in California there was at least one recorded case of a rapist who, after castration, turned from rape to child molestation and morder. Neither is there any proven correlation between the strength of sexual desire and the liability to commit rape.

    “In fact,” adds the report, “sexually motivated murders by the impotent or near-impotent are not unknown.” (Castration, in fact, does not necessarily lead to impotence. Some castraticans can and do have sexual intercourse.)

    There is a demand for castration, not only from prisoners, but also from men who have their freedom. In Denmark, 900 men were castrated between 1929 and 1959. Of these, 300 were non-institutionalized men who had requested the operation. A further 300 were prisoners or detainees and the rest mental patients. Of the prisoners, 20 got into trouble with the law after castration.

    In San Diego, wherein the last 20 years there have been 397 castrations of men who take this course rather than serve a long jail sentence, the operation seems to have kept all the men out of further crime.

    In Britain, chemical treatments to reduce sex offenders’ libidos have been available for some time. They consist either of tranquilizing drugs or hormone-type compounds and it is the latter which might be described as “emasculation.”

    Meanwhile, a further problem confronts the three San Diego offenders – the problem of finding a willing and able surgeon to do the operation. The American Civil Liberties Union opposed the penal use of castration and the insurance companies, who insure against medical malpractice, fear that the individual could later sue the doctor on the grounds of state coersion. In these circumstances, San Diego doctors are reluctant to wield the knife.

    The Sunday Times, London

  9. Troyhand said:

    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…

%d bloggers like this: