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The Times, 6th September 1996
by Stephen Farrell

A SENIOR British diplomat who smuggled paedophile videos into the country was in jail last night, facing a sentence of up to seven years. Robert Coghlan, 54, will be sentenced today after a jury at Southwark Crown Court found him guilty of importing 109 obscene tapes, 70 containing child pornography, in March this year.

Customs investigators said he was part of a secret international paedophile network. They described the videos as among the worst they had seen. Coghlan showed no emotion when the seven men and five women took less than an hour to reach a verdict after a three-day trial.

After the case James McGregor, deputy chief investigation officer for HM Customs, said there was little doubt that Coghlan belonged to a paedophile ring. “It is a secretive network in which people work by making, exchanging and selling this sort of material. I have no reason to suppose that Coghlan was any different.”

Coghlan, a fluent linguist with 33 years in the Diplomatic Service, accompanied Diana, Princess of Wales on her visit to Japan in February last year. He has been suspended on normal pay since his arrest and last night the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it would decide on disciplinary action after sentencing.

He was arrested on March 26 at a friend’s house in Islington, north London, after customs officers made a routine search of a warehouse in Barking, east London. Events began in August last year when Coghlan learnt he was to be posted to Spain. As his belongings were packed by a shipping agency in Yokohama, Japan, he went on a tour of the Far East and Australia, including two trips to Bangkok. He then returned to London.

The goods were sent to Southampton to go into storage in Barking before being sent on to Madrid. Coghlan signed a Customs and Excise form saying he had no prohibited goods to declare.

He denied being a paedophile and pleaded not guilty to a charge of fraudulent evasion of the prohibition on importing obscene material under the 1979 Customs and Excise Management Act. When interviewed, he admitted knowing the tapes were indecent but claimed he did not know they contained paedophile material and insisted that he always fast- forwarded past scenes involving juveniles.

He told the jury that he considered disposing of the tapes but feared he was being followed by Japanese police whenever he left the embassy. He never thought to erase the tapes.

The prosecution dismissed his claim not to have known what he was buying, pointing out that he was a trained linguist who spoke Japanese, French, German, Portuguese and Serbo-Croat.

Nigel Lithman, for the prosecution, said Coghlan spent four years painstakingly building up his collection at the expense of young children exploited and abused by the film-makers. “In Japan it would seem that Coghlan had something of a dual existence. He was something of a Jekyll and Hyde character.”

Coghlan, who was born in Aberdeen, started work in the Passport Office and married his wife, Maureen, in 1963 when both were Foreign Office clerical workers. They divorced 20 years ago. His sons, Andrew and Steven, accompanied him to court, but made no comment afterwards.

See also: Diplomat ‘had child sex tapes’

Jailed paedophile diplomat sacked by the Foreign Office

In 1982 a Cheltenham taxi driver called Geoffrey Prime was arrested for sexually assaulting two young girls. His wife then reported her suspicions about him to the police, and it transpired that he had been selling state secrets to the Russians during his previous employment in GCHQ. He had been a spy for over 14 years and had also worked in the Foreign Office and the RAF.

On 20th July 1982, Margaret Thatcher told Parliament that Prime had been charged under the Official Secrets Act. (Guardian 21/07/1982)

On 10th November 1982 Prime was jailed for 38 years, which at the time was one of the longest sentences to be handed down by a British court. “Geoffrey Prime, sentenced to 38 years’ jail yesterday, was rated by the Americans as the most important Russian spy since the war”

Exp111182Later that month, Geoffrey Dickens, a Conservative backbench MP, asked Margaret Thatcher about Geoffrey Prime’s membership of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), an organisation that wanted the age of consent lowered to 4 years old. Dickens had been campiagning against PIE and other paedophile groups since 1981, when he publicly named senior diplomat Sir Peter Hayman as a paedophile and PIE member.

In a written reply to Dickens on 15th November 1982, Thatcher denied that Geoffrey Prime was a PIE member:

“I understand that stories that the police found documents in Prime’s house or garage indicating that he was a member of the Paedophile Information Exchange are without foundation, and that nothing was discovered to suggest he was”. (Guardian 16/11/82)

In August 1983, The Sun reported that Geoffrey Prime had been a PIE member, and that “angry Americans” were convinced that the Attorney General, Sir Michael Havers, had held back from mentioning this “to avoid embarassing security chiefs”. Sir Michael Havers, complained to the Press Council and his complaint was upheld after The Sun failed to produce any evidence of their claim. (The Times 22/08/83)

A week later (30/08/83), the Daily Star followed on from The Sun’s story, probably using the same source of information:

Spy chiefs are investigating links between evil child sex campaigners and British diplomats in the United States. Intelligence officers in Britain want to inspect FBI files and are ready to quiz envoys amid fears that a major scandal is about to erupt in Washington.

Both MI5 and MI6 are working on the investigation to discover whether any diplomats are involved with the Paedophile Information Exchange. And FBI agents are believed to have firm evidence linking British traitor Geoffrey Prime with the North American Man Boy Lovers Association (NAMBLA) the U.S. version of PIE.

The alert started after an FBI raid on a house used by American child sex organisers. The raid uncovered contact numbers of PIE members throghout Britain, two phone numbers of British Embassy departments, and the phone numbers of military establishments in Britain.

Star300883It seems highly unlikely that a British paedophile would be a member of an American paedophile group but not its British equivalent. Thatcher would have been very keen to avoid another high profile scandal involving Establishment paedophiles and national security. It was only two years since senior diplomat Sir Peter Hayman had been outed as a paedophile and PIE member, and only a year since the Elm Guest House paedophile scandal had broken with the headline ‘Security Alert in New Vice Scandal’.

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Sir Michael Havers had intervened on both occasions. He defended the decision not to prosecute Sir Peter Hayman, and he “was called in to examine complaints” against several British newspapers by Elm Guest House’s lawyers. The papers never reported on Elm Guest House again after the initial ten days, effectively burying the story and allowing the paedophile network’s activities to continue without being bothered by press coverage.