Does Adrian Hilton – former Conservative party candidate, who blogs for the Daily Mail – really believe that Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and Patricia Hewitt are paedophiles or support child abuse?
On his personal blog, using his preferred pseudonym “Archbishop Cranmer”, Adrian Hilton writes:
But when three current Labour politicians – former officers of National Council for Civil Liberties – are confronted with documented links to something that really was called the Paedophile Information Exchange, and when it is set down in black and white that this group really did agitate for all of the aforementioned ‘progressive’ policies, you have to wonder why Ed Miliband has not at least instigated an internal inquiry and done a few background checks on Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and (former MP) Patricia Hewitt. Instead, he declared that he doesn’t “set any store by these allegations”, and that Harriet Harman in particular is a person of “huge decency and integrity”.
The evidence (if it be) has been set out in the Daily Mail, even alleging that “the Labour government of the time may have helped finance the organisation”.
The actual facts are: in 1974, a group called the “Paedophile Information Exchange” was set up, which purported to be for the purpose of providing support for men attracted to boys. From 1967 to 1993, any sexual relationship between two men where one or both were under 21 – even if both were over 16 – was legally an act of statutory rape. This legal discrimination against sexual relationships for young men confused the issue sufficiently that the founders of PIE were able to present themselves as merely another “special interest group” to the Scottish gay rights movement for a short time: and then they moved to London. (In Scotland, sex between men would remain completely illegal until 1981.)
In 1975, PIE joined the National Council for Civil Liberties, now Liberty, paying a £15 fee for “affiliate” status. At that time, Jack Dromey was on the executive of NCCL, and Patricia Hewitt was general secretary: Harriet Harman became the legal officer for NCCL in 1978 and left in 1982. NCCL says that PIE had ceased to be an affiliate group by 1978: this seems probable, since it was in 1978 that the first police raids were carried out on the homes of PIE members and the first prosecutions began. In many ways, it is surprising that it took so long: a group that had been excluded by the Scottish gay rights movement within a year, managed to evade prosecution for three years in London.
Since 2003, the law throughout the UK has been an age of consent of 16: some flexibility with regard to prosecution of consensual relationships where both participants are between 13 and 16: and stated flatly in a law passed by the Labour government:
A child under 13 does not, under any circumstances, have the legal capacity to consent to any form of sexual activity.
The Daily Mail’s questionable interest in young girls has been well documented but even by its own uncomfortably low standards the Mail Online has turned the creepiness up a notch today with a story about Heidi Klum’s eight-year-old daughter, who the Mail thinks is a “leggy beauty”:
In the article itself the Mail Online has four pictures of the eight-year-old girl being picked up from a gymnastics class, wearing gym shorts…
The Mail claims PIE was still affiliated in 1983 and that Harman, Hewitt, and Dromey all campaigned for it – an allegation which Adrian Hilton, writing as “Archbishop Cranmer”, appears to feel is warranted by the evidence provided by the Daily Mail. (Besides the Mail, Hilton also writes for The Spectator and ConHome.)
The Telegraph claimed in 2009 to have evidence of “press cuttings” that in 1983 PIE was “still considered an ‘affiliate group'” – but didn’t say which paper the press cuttings were from, nor who considered PIE an “affiliate” in 1983. (Update: Liberty’s Director Shami Chakrabarti acknowledges that “even the NCCL had to expel paedophiles from its ranks in 1983 after infiltration at some point in the seventies”.)
In 2009, a spokesperson for Harriet Harman clarified:
“She has always opposed child pornography and has never supported PIE and to suggest that she did is untrue and misleading.
“NCCL’s approach to the protection of children’s bill was to argue for clear definitions in the bill to make sure the law was precise so that it was about child protection and not about censorship.”
“PIE had been excluded from the NCCL before she became legal officer.”
The Mail claims to have evidence that the three Labour politicians were actively supporting PIE when it was an affiliate of NCCL.
Gloatingly, Adrian Hilton asserts:
If the Roman Catholic Church had forged links – even as far back as the 1970s – with something called the Paedophile Information Exchange, the political outrage and media onslaught would have been monumental. Certainly, there have been many thousands of appalling cases and a chronic culture of cover-up, but no one can pretend that this was countenanced by canon lawyers or advocated by the Magisterium.
Only three weeks ago, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child launched its latest report on the involvement of the Vatican in protecting clergy who are known or suspected child abusers. Kirsten Sandberg, a member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) said that a “code of silence” had been imposed on children. The Vatican has already admitted that it will only release information on clergy who abuse children if it is requested of them by law enforcement agencies on a case by case basis.
The UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child says the Vatican should “immediately remove” all clergy who are known or suspected child abusers: and has denounced the Vatican for adopting policies which allowed priests to sexually abuse thousands of children.
Records concerning past cases should be opened up so that they can be used to hold the abusers – and those who may have sought to protect them – accountable, the panel added.
The Holy See must establish “clear rules, mechanisms and procedures” for the mandatory reporting of all suspected cases of abuse to civil law enforcement authorities, it said.
The committee said it was “particularly concerned” that in dealing with allegations of child sex abuse, “the Holy See has consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the church and the protection of the perpetrators above children’s best interests, as observed by several national commissions of inquiry.”
But, says Adrian Hilton:
The thing is, Pope Benedict XVI spent much of his pontificate issuing profuse expressions of remorse and repentance on behalf of his church for the heinous acts of paedophile priests and the post-conciliar hierarchical conspiracy of cover-up. And the BBC is still apologising over its 1970s “groupie” culture of misogynistic permissiveness and predatory paedophilia. Both institutions are horrified and appalled – 40 years on – that they did nothing to protect so many vulnerable victims over such a long period. But at least the perpetrators are now being held to account – one of them even post mortem.
Oddly enough, however, Pope Benedict did nothing to change the Vatican’s age of consent. As we were reminded in July 2013, when Pope Francis announced he was going to have this altered:
Until now Vatican City has had the lowest age of consent in Europe despite decades of child sex scandals within the church, while sex between people of the same sex has been legal in the city state since 1889.
Under the new rules, sex with a person under the age of 18, prostitution or possession of child pornography will be punished with up to 12 years in prison.
Previously such crimes would have been punished with a maximum sentence of 3 to 10 years.
However Francis has also made it a crime for agents of the church to leak Vatican information after Vatican butler to Pope Benedict XVI, Paolo Gabriele, leaked information about corruption within the Catholic church – potentially discouraging whistleblowers.
The US based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) called the changes merely cosmetic.
In other words, until Pope Francis had the Vatican City legislation changed in 2013 – assuming that he did – it was entirely legal inside the Vatican for a bishop to have sex with a choirboy, providing the child was at least 12.
Is there anything on Adrian Hilton’s Archbishop Cranmer blog about the CRC report on the Vatican?
There is not. There are two posts about how it’s perfectly proper for a conservative to want to leave the European Union, one unpleasant post about Conservative MP Dr Sarah Wollaston, a preliminary post about the General Synod, and a laudatory post about the Archbishop of Canterbury. Now, of course, judging a blogger about what they choose not to blog about is fraught with difficulty, even when they blog regularly. I blog about things that are of general interest to me, and a general picture of my blog tells you what those are, but the fact that I have not blogged about a topic does not mean it is of no interest to me.
But it is interesting that while Adrian Hilton thinks that an affiliate connection of forty years ago between NCCL and PIE is sufficient evidence against three Labour MPs who were working for NCCL then… but the fact that the Vatican knows of clergy who have abused children and won’t release information to convict them until they are uncovered by independent legal inquiry, is – to Adrian Hilton – apparently not a topic worthy of discussion, not even of reference when discussing the question of the Daily Mail’s stories about Labour MPs.
What is certain is that the Daily Mail doesn’t want Labour to win the next election, and is campaigning for that result in its usual style.
I fear that Adrian Hilton’s contributions are more party-political than religious, even under the pseud of “Archbishop Cranmer”. US law enforcement has forced a great many reveals on the Catholic Church in the United States, but even there the Church has successfully concealed many abusers, as SNAP notes:
Meanwhile, [in 2003] the Rev. Kevin McDonough, [Archbishop Harry J. Flynn’s] deputy at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, sat in a chancery office and checked boxes on a form. He was completing the U.S. Catholic Church’s first survey of abusive priests.
McDonough selected 33 priests. He wrote down their initials and dates of birth and sent them to researchers. The 33 men became known as the “credibly accused priests.” The paperwork McDonough submitted became known as “the list.” The archdiocese acknowledged the existence of the list in 2003 but declined to release the names.
The list symbolized all that victims believed was wrong about the Catholic Church’s handling of abuse claims — the secrecy, the failure to warn the public, the hidden offenders. Victims’ attorney Jeff Anderson received the list under court seal as part of a lawsuit in 2009. In December,a judge ordered the archdiocese to release the names to the public. The secrecy appeared finished.
But it wasn’t. The list of 33 was incomplete. An MPR News investigation has found the actual number was more than double the archdiocese’s official count. The priests served in nearly every parish in the archdiocese.
Meantime, Harriet Harman – thirty years ago, the legal officer for NCCL – says she regrets NCCL was ever affiliated with PIE and that she and her husband Jack Dormey are the subjects of a smear campaign by the Mail. So any decent person would, and so she is: but what is that to Adrian Hilton?
- Zoe Williams: PIE, the NCCL and Harriet Harman: why she was right not to apologise – The Daily Mail’s attempt to destroy the deputy Labour leader’s reputation is McCarthyite
- Iain Dale: Harman & the NCCL: What has the BBC really learnt?