This is a story of how paedophiles tried to go mainstream in the 1970s & of what happened to them.
PIE was formed in 1974. It campaigned for “children’s sexuality”. It wanted the government to axe or lower the age of consent. It offered support to adults “in legal difficulties concerning sexual acts with consenting ‘under age’ partners”. The real aim was to normalise sex with children.
It’s an ideology that seems chilling now. But PIE managed to gain support from some professional bodies and progressive groups. It received invitations from student unions, won sympathetic media coverage and found academics willing to push its message.
One of PIE’s key tactics was to try to conflate its cause with gay rights. On at least two occasions the Campaign for Homosexual Equality conference passed motions in PIE’s favour.
Most gay people were horrified by any conflation of homosexuality and a sexual interest in children, says the UK journalist Matthew Parris. But PIE used the idea of sexual liberation to win over more radical elements. “If there was anything with the word ‘liberation’ in the name you were automatically in favour of it if you were young and cool in the 1970s. It seemed like PIE had slipped through the net.”
Christian Wolmar had first-hand contact with PIE. In 1976 he began working for Release, an agency helping people with drug and legal problems. Its office at 1 Elgin Avenue in London was a mailing address for PIE. Nobody knew much about them, Wolmar says. After Wolmar raised questions about PIE it was decided to bring them in for a meeting.Wolmar’s colleagues pressed the man from PIE on the age of consent. Wolmar says that the man said there should be no age of consent. Shocked at the idea of a group advocating sex with babies, he and his colleagues unanimously decided to “boot them out”.
The brazenness of PIE could be shocking. Keith Hose, one of PIE’s leaders during the 1970s, was quoted by a newspaper saying: “I am a paedophile. I am attracted to boys from about 10, 11, and 12 years of age. I may have had sexual relations with children, but it would be unwise to say.”
When Peter Hain, then president of the Young Liberals, described paedophilia as “a wholly undesirable abnormality”, a fellow activist hit back. “It is sad that Peter has joined the hang ’em and flog ’em brigade. His views are not the views of most Young Liberals.”
And when a columnist supported Hain in the Guardian he was inundated with mail from people – many willing to give their name – who defended sex with children.
A Guardian article in 1977 noted with dismay how the group was growing. By its second birthday in October 1976, it had 200 members. There was a London group, a Middlesex group being planned, and with regional branches to follow. The article speaks of PIE’s hopes to widen the membership to include women and heterosexual men.
Polly Toynbee talked of her “disgust, aversion and anger” at the group but added that she had “a sinking feeling that in another five years or so, their aims would eventually be incorporated into the general liberal credo, and we would all find them acceptable”.
But during the 1980s, PIE came a cropper. Its notoriety grew in 1982 with the trial of Geoffrey Prime, who was both a KGB spy and a member of PIE. He was jailed for 32 years for passing on secrets from his job at GCHQ to the Soviet Union, and for a series of sex attacks on young girls.
In August 1983 a Scottish headmaster, Charles Oxley, handed over a dossier about PIE to Scotland Yard after infiltrating the group, the Glasgow Herald wrote. He said the group had about 1,000 members. The authorities debated ways of shutting PIE down. O’Carroll was sentenced to two years in jail for “conspiracy to corrupt public morals” and PIE was disbanded in 1984.
To bring this toxic tale up to date, on 15 July 2011, the former leader of the paedophile pressure group Pie was jailed after becoming the first person to be convicted for making drawings of children being raped. The prosecution, under the 2009 Coroners and Justice Act, was described as a landmark case by Scotland Yard.
Detectives found 3,000 drawings at Steven Freeman’s home, where he held weekly meetings to view and trade images of child abuse. The images were described at the Old Bailey as “vile and disgusting” and were amongst the worst seen by police, they said. Some 14,500 pictures and films were found on computer discs there and at the address of two of other defendants.
Officers from the Child Abuse Command also found computer games where players tried to abuse as many children as possible. Three of the defendants had been leaders of Pie, the Paedophile Information Exchange, which was disbanded after members were jailed.
Freeman, 57, previously known as Smith, the chairman of Pie, was given an indeterminate term for public protection. John Morrison, 44, was jailed for 24 months after he admitted having indecent images and failure to disclose a computer password. John Parratt, 63, a former vice chairman of Pie, also known as Warren Middleton, was jailed for 12 months for having indecent images. Leo Adamson, 49, a former executive member of Pie, was found guilty of failure to disclose a computer password and was jailed for a year at an earlier hearing. My, how times have changed….
(excerpts from The Guardian 2014)