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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.

Childline was founded by Esther Rantzen in 1986, and was intended as a telephone hotline for children to report abuse. It has been heavily criticised for failing to expose widespread organised abuse in schools and children’s homes across the UK.

In 2006 Childline merged with the NSPCC, another children’s charity that has been accused of not doing enough to expose child abuse, not to mention its links with the paedophile Jimmy Savile.

ThatcherSavileBut the idea for Childline was not new. A similar service was first operated by an organisation called Voice of the Child in Care in 1979, but concentrated solely on children in care in the London area. Like Childline, it seems to have had very little impact in exposing the paedophile networks that had  infiltrated children’s homes.

We now know that paedophile networks operated in almost every London borough, but the most notorious of these are Islington and Lambeth, where every single home had been infiltrated by child abusers. Voice of the Child in Care (VCC) had connections with both these boroughs. The Director of Islington’s Social Services department, John Rea Price, was a member of VCC, as was a Lambeth social worker called Hugh Geach. Another prominent member of VCC was Len Davis, who held many dubious views and was associated with Peter Righton, a renowned child care expert who was later exposed as being a member of the Paedophile Information Exchange, and part of a network of paedophiles who preyed on boys in schools and children’s homes across the UK. Len Davis believed in the abolition of the age of consent, wrote of children “seducing” adult residential workers, and advised against reporting sexual abuse in children’s homes if  the abuse was “reciprocally desired and reciprocally enjoyed”. (1)

The VCC hotline was also supported by the National Council of Civil Liberties (NCCL), who only a year before had opposed the Protection of Children Bill and called for the law on images of child abuse to be relaxed. NCCL’s official response, signed by their legal officer Harriet Harman, said “childhood sexual experiences, willingly engaged in, with an adult result in no identifiable damage” and called for child abuse images to be decriminalised unless it could be proved that the child had suffered harm. NCCL were also affilated to the Paedophile Information Exchange, who wanted the age of consent lowered to 4 years old. (2)

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The VCC hotline didn’t specifically ask for children in care to report abuse, but this isn’t surprising as much of the social work profession didn’t even acknowledge the existence of child sexual abuse until the mid-late 1980s. Instead, the VCC hotline promised that “for the next seven months, children in care will be able to ring in with complaints about their treatment in care, the decisons made concerning them, and their day-to-day life”.

It’s obvious that “treatment in care” would include abuse suffered at the hands of residential care workers, but either no children reported this type of abuse, or the reports of abuse weren’t acted on, as paedophile networks in London children’s homes weren’t exposed until the early 1990s. These “decisions” would have included where they were placed in care. VCC also acted as an advocacy service who could negotiate with the local authority and place children with, for example, a particular foster carer.

VCC are known to have recommended children to be placed with single male residential care workers. In the early 1980s, Islington and Lambeth were among the first local authorities to adopt equal opportunities policies which meant single men were encouraged to foster and adopt. The White report on Islington children’s homes in 1995 stated that these policies had provided a loophole enabling paedophiles to gain access to the child care system by posing as ‘gay’.

More on VCC soon.

Social Work Today, 1st May 1979

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Social Work Today, 5th June 1979

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(1) Paedophilia in Academia: Len Davis, Brunel University

(2) The Telegraph 09.03.09