Heaven knows, anything goes – and the problem with the principle of ‘anything goes’ is that it eventually and somewhat seamlessly translates into ‘everything goes’; and we’ve been here before. The breaking down of repressive barriers is a good thing, but the difficulty is judging when to stop and how far to go before one has gone beyond the pale. The counter-cultural revolution of the 1960s was confronted by this conundrum, when all the genuinely objectionable laws and social mores that had made the immediate post-war era so restrictive for numerous outsiders were gradually eased as we were steered in the direction of a more socially enlightened society. But when the demands of the few are taken into consideration, the demands of the fewer also claim the right to be heard. By the early 70s, the loosening of sexual morals in particular resulted in European film festivals devoted to pornography promoted as though they were on a par with an established cinematic celebration such as Cannes. With the likes of Germaine Greer on the judges’ panel, one even pushed the boat out as far as bestiality – well, if anything goes, everything goes; to object on moral grounds would be to line-up with The Man, no?

The notorious ‘Paedophile Information Exchange’ was a further example of what happens when any form of censorship is perceived as symbolic of a repressive old order that needs to be utterly obliterated. It’s not unlike the ‘all property is theft’ maxim, which essentially means anyone has the right to come into your home and help themselves to whatever you own; transplanting this principle to sexual peccadilloes means any perversion is legitimate and none should be bracketed as deviant. So, this invariably leads to gimps on dog leads openly participating in a jolly Pride Parade for all the family and the endless variations of ‘trans’ can cry discrimination if they perceive the sub-gender they’ve just invented to identify as is being oppressed by the wicked heterosexual patriarchy. If this goes on unchecked, you end up with a situation in which a man who identifies as a woman is publicly referred to as ‘he’ and the offence is a sackable one for the misgendering miscreant. Or a male rapist in a dress can be locked up alongside hundreds of vulnerable women. Raise any objections and you’re part of the problem rather than the solution.

Anyone who remembers the P.I.E controversy of six or seven years back – a long-forgotten issue rescued from obscurity as part of Tom Watson’s imaginary ‘Westminster Paedophile Ring’ crusade – might recall how Harriet Harman was dragged into the scandal on account of her libertarian approach to social issues as a leading light in the right-on wing of the Labour Party at the turn of the 80s. Harman’s exposure as a former ‘loony lefty’ who had endorsed P.I.E as a legitimate fringe group entitled to their rights highlighted the problems with applying the ‘anything goes’ template to everyone who demands to have their personal notion of freedom of expression recognised. Some remain unacceptable for a reason, and a line has to be drawn in the sand at some point.

But what of a film that is marketed as sexualising prepubescent girls by dressing them as twerking lap-dancers? Unacceptable, surely – especially if directed by a middle-aged white man? We’d be in Harvey Weinstein territory, then. But what if the director is a Woman of Colour? Er…well, that’s good, isn’t it? That’s what diversity’s all about, innit? As long as someone fulfils a quota, that’s okay, yeah? Guardianistas have been tying themselves in knots when presented with the ultimate moral head-f**k for the Identity Politics Utopia that is ‘Cuties’. A black woman as a director = good; Paedophilia = bad. What do we do? That’s the problem when someone gets the gig not on merit but because they tick a box – you can’t then backtrack when they f**k up. You have to bend over backwards to defend them, even when they make a movie that wonderfully underlines the double standards and hypocrisy at the heart of Woke. I see Kate Winslet is now wondering aloud how she could possibly have consented to star in films directed by Woody Allen and Roman Polanski. Perhaps she did so because they have both produced a body of work today’s directors can only dream about and she knew it would enhance her career at the time – and it’s not as if the ugly rumours encircling either were utterly unheard of when she did so; maybe it’s more a case of guilt needing to be proven rather than assumed back then. If only they’d both been Women of Colour, eh?

As for ‘Cuties’, a Netflix film that apparently presents erotic dancing as a life-affirming career for little girls, the public reaction compared to the pitiful critical defence has again exhibited the vast chasm between the cultural elite and the consumer. I haven’t seen it and I’ve no intention of doing so; the glimpses of the trailer online were nauseating enough for me. But the fact that Netflix promoted it in the way they did and were then surprised at people’s disgust says everything you need to know. The widespread cancellations of Netflix subscriptions that have followed has been interesting; but perhaps a company that splashes out millions on Duchess Dumb and Duke Dumber for an imminent schedule of Woke lectures shouldn’t necessarily be regarded as the producer of intelligent and groundbreaking television that its early successes suggested. The cancellers have been cancelled – and it had absolutely nothing to do with race, gender or any other Identity Politics agenda.

DIANA RIGG (1938-2020)

The sudden and unexpected death of Diana Rigg comes just a handful of months after the passing of the woman she replaced in ‘The Avengers’, Honor Blackman; both characters these iconic actresses played on the much-loved 60s fantasy series, Emma Peel and Cathy Gale, offered an original take on female role models not just for the time but for now. Patrick Macnee once said the key to the onscreen dynamic between him and Rigg was the combination of an 18th century man with a 21st century woman. Unfortunately, it would seem the manner in which Diana Rigg was treated behind the scenes was rooted in the 19th century – poorly paid, exploited and undervalued.

But it’s testament to Rigg that she continued to embody the independent spirit of Emma Peel by not playing the victim and rising above it, transcending typecasting as she walked away from ‘The Avengers’ when it was British TV’s biggest international money-spinner. She made the leap to the movies by playing the only Bond girl ever to marry the hero in the memorably moving climax to George Lazenby’s solitary outing as 007, ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’; her other most beloved big screen offering was the blackly comic early 70s horror film in which she starred alongside Vincent Price, ‘Theatre of Blood’.

Diana Rigg went on to establish a reputation as a Great British thespian, adding her name to the illustrious Dames of the theatrical world, but she also continued to do plenty of sterling TV work on both sides of the Atlantic for decades, specialising in deliciously horrid dowager-types as she grew old gracefully. However, she never dismissed her time as Emma Peel with the disdain that many ‘serious actors’ do re the fun roles that made their names (Martin Shaw, anyone?); instead, she always came across as recognising she’d been part of something special and that she owed her subsequent success to that uniquely English series which remains quite unlike anything before or since. And it wouldn’t have been so without the great talent that was Diana Rigg.

© The Editor


No, the irony will never escape me, but I do have to admit I owe Mark Williams-Thomas a great deal. Deprived of ITV’s top investigative reporter rising without a trace in 2012, I certainly wouldn’t be writing this and you wouldn’t be reading it. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the fearless ‘former police detective’ and ‘child protection expert’ in alerting the nation to the scourge of celebrity paedos hiding in plain sight, I have been able to acquire an audience for my ramblings both in this medium and another. In fact, it was the other that enabled MWT to facilitate my first big break; and for that I will always be grateful to my generation’s Roger Cook.

The ‘Exposure’ exposé on Jimmy Savile that aired on October 3 2012 was the career-launching platform MWT had desperately been looking for, following occasional work for ‘Newsnight’ in a similar vein. It also provided me with something of a platform too. At that point, I’d been uploading videos to YouTube for a good couple of years and had slowly built a small cult following for my redubs, remakes and remodels of largely vintage TV. After watching MWT’s sensationalistic hatchet-job on a dead man who was admittedly as loathed as he was loved in his lifetime, my scepticism was superseded by a light-bulb moment. Here was a chance to combine and contrast the old world with the new one. And so Jimmy Savile became Great Uncle Bulgaria.

My first ‘Exposure’ spoof appeared within 48 hours of its source material being screened and went down well with my regular subscribers as well as helping to pick up a few more along the way. It was fairly short and quite crude – in terms of technical quality; the crudeness of the humour was a given – and I would probably have left it at that had not MWT used his newfound fame to kick-start a bandwagon he was determined to be in the driving seat of. Whilst shocking examples of the real thing were taking place at that very moment (albeit under the radar in faraway northern towns), the media’s moral crusader convinced the nation that it had actually all happened in the 1970s and 80s; the rich, the famous and the powerful had been the perpetrators, and their wicked deeds had been securely shielded from the masses by top-level cover-ups, conspiracies and secret societies until MWT had the guts to shine a light on the clandestine network of shame.

The insidious instigation of Operation Yewtree, unleashing the Cromwellian storm-troopers of the police and their allies in the legal profession, spearheaded a Hopkins-esque witch-hunt in which safely unfashionable old celebrities were rounded-up one-by-one, usually thanks to the exhausting efforts of MWT. Yes, it was boom-time for ambulance-chasing law firms, false-memory therapists, and yours truly. By placing The Wombles at the centre of my parallel universe Operation It Could Be Youtree, I was able to expand the roll-call of the guilty (till proven innocent) by substituting each of the aged accused with telly contemporaries of Wimbledon Common’s most infamous residents – Bagpuss, Hartley Hare, Mr Benn, Nogbad the Bad et al – as well as encompassing the motley crew of Icke disciples, fanatical fantasists and self-appointed paedo-hunters MWT had given the green light to.

Recently revisiting ‘Exposure’, I was surprised that my version of Mark Williams-Thomas, reborn (almost inevitably) as Mark JOHN-Thomas, doesn’t actually appear until right at the very end of the third instalment. However, as MWT became more ubiquitous on-screen whenever Yewtree grabbed a headline, this humourless, pompous individual with a hilarious absence of self-awareness quickly asserted himself as the star of my show thereafter. MWT at that time had his own YT channel and such was his delicious vanity that virtually every appearance he had made on TV was there; I had an unlimited supply of footage I could play with. And I did. By the time I’d taken so much piss out of him that his bladder must have been running on empty, MWT mysteriously removed more or less all the videos I’d pillaged. Coincidence? The fact is my series had taken on a life of its own that went way beyond my usual YT audience, even as far as those directly affected by the events I was satirising.

Whilst I’d been playing my strongest hand to parody the hysteria, others had been playing theirs in different online mediums, and I discovered the ‘Exposure’ series was being passed around like illicit contraband. Some of its most enthusiastic fans made contact and new doors were opened to me as a consequence. Episodes gradually acquired a little more sophistication both in presentation and in material as I was being fed information I wouldn’t otherwise have come across. The mainstream media was sticking rigidly to the MWT manual and no prominent journalist had yet dared to stick their head above the parapet for fear of being labelled a paedo apologist. For a good couple of years, my videos and the more forensic blogs of various determined diggers were the only places where an alternative to the consensus could be heard.

It took until celebrities whose currency hadn’t dated along with their dress-sense found themselves caught in the Yewtree net before voices belatedly began to be to be tentatively raised. Gradually, the wider public were made aware of the dubious police tactics and yet we heard little of the non-famous casualties denied access to expensive lawyers, those whose lives had also been devastated by this appalling approach to law and order. Moreover, an #IbelieveHer agenda served to conveniently mute all those women whose men-folk had been whisked away at the crack of dawn by the CPS Stasi – all those wives, girlfriends, mothers, daughters and sisters who were suffering in silence because their stories didn’t fit the narrative the MSM had opted for to present events, as ever, in simple black & white terms. Most are suffering still.

I’m lucky. I was able to walk away from the madness when I’d reached the end of the ‘Exposure’ road with a fourteenth and final episode that retold the tale in the style of Simon Schama’s ‘A History of Britain’ series. I felt I’d extracted every ounce of sap from the Yewtree and there was nothing left to say, for me at least. Firmly established as the resident paedo professor of the daytime TV sofa, Mark Williams-Thomas nevertheless continued to seek out new celebrity scalps even as more questions than ever were being asked about Operation Yewtree and its ramifications, as well as its equally unnecessary successors, Midland and Conifer. And now those questions are bringing the odious role of MWT into the public spotlight at last; prominent papers are actually saying out loud what the rest of us were saying out loud five long years ago, when we were routinely dismissed as beyond-the-pale paedo sympathisers.

Paul Gambaccini’s broadcasting clout guarantees him a sympathetic audience and gives him the freedom to openly describe what he went through as well as being critical of the system that exposed him to it, whereas others who experienced the same ordeal remain marginalised by their obscurity and tarnished in their communities. Yes, without Mark Williams-Thomas, there would be no ‘Winegum Telegram’; but without Mark Williams-Thomas, there would be far fewer damaged families and far fewer ruined individuals. I’d happily consign this blog to the same great online platform in the sky that the ‘Exposure’ series now resides in if that pound-shop Titus Oates finally received a taste of his own rancid medicine.

© The Editor


If, as Philip Larkin infamously observed, they f**k you up, your mum and dad, what about the other way round? What do children do to mum and dad? A fair few parents have certainly been f**ked-up by awful offspring whose appalling activities are conducted with a conviction mummy and daddy will love them regardless and forgive them anything. It’s a bit harder to ensure love and forgiveness when the target of verbal patricide has been dead for almost twenty years, however. The fact that Sacha Newley, skint artist with a book to plug, has decided to brand his deceased father Anthony a ‘paedophile’ seemingly to drum-up interest and make a fast buck is as sad an exercise in celebrity grave-pissing as we’ve had for quite a while. His comments in last weekend’s Sunday Times, derived from the Woody Allen/Mia Farrow manual, have provoked public rebuttals from both his mother Joan Collins and his sister Tara Newley.

Sacha Newley is either a vindictive and shameless publicly seeker with unresolved father-son issues or is in possession of a limited grasp of the English language. Like many who retrospectively invoke such a contentious term, he seems to believe his father’s liberation from the repressive 50s via having a good time with the opposite sex in the 60s made him a paedophile. ‘My father was drawn to youthfulness,’ he declares. ‘He thought innocence was an aphrodisiac. That was his sexual proclivity, and it’s a very dangerous, destructive thing.’ I hardly think, as a successful singer and actor, Anthony Newley was an anomaly in the Swinging decade when it came to enjoying the company of young ladies. Indeed, it’s hard to name anyone of comparable fame and fortune that didn’t do likewise given half the chance – and any ageing Lothario with a handsome bank-balance will always pull women young enough to be their daughter. Just ask Bernie Ecclestone; or maybe the current occupant of the White House.

To even call the late, great Anthony Newley a pederast would be an abuse of that term’s true meaning; to call him a paedophile, which implies he had a sexual interest in pre-pubescent children, is both lazy and inaccurate. Newley’s ex-wife and Sacha’s mother Joan Collins has called her son ‘naive’ and questioned his understanding of the word. ‘Tony loved young women,’ she said. ‘Young women of 17, 18 (and) 19 years old, not children by any means. Never in a million years would I be married to somebody like that. It’s categorically not true. I never saw any of that kind of behaviour from Tony.’ The couple’s daughter Tara said she was ‘shocked by my brother’s comments…I had an incredibly close relationship with my father and am deeply upset by these false allegations.’

Chiefly remembered these days for playing the Artful Dodger in David Lean’s celebrated 1948 version of ‘Oliver Twist’, being one of Joan Collins’s numerous husbands, and for exerting a key influence on the early recordings of David Bowie, Anthony Newley was an unsung national treasure who subverted the career path he could have followed by doing things his own way. An unlikely pop star in that odd little period between the decline of 50s Rock ‘n’ Roll and the rise of The Beatles, two chart-topping singles in 1960 made him the hottest property in British showbiz, and the call came from ATV (the light-entertainment leader of the original ITV companies) to star in his own television series.

What makes Anthony Newley so special and admirable is that he spurned the routine variety show ATV clearly expected and instead opted to produce the first ever genuinely ‘out there’ series UK TV created, predating ‘The Prisoner’ by seven years. ‘The Strange World of Gurney Slade’ was not what Lew Grade ordered, and after debuting in prime-time, the programme baffled both audiences and critics so much that it was shunted to a late-night graveyard slot thereafter. Basically, a mainstream viewing public was simply not ready for ‘Gurney Slade’ in 1960, though it’s no wonder considering how radically different it was to anything that had preceded it.

What the unprepared viewer is exposed to as Newley’s character exits the set of a generic TV show of the time and wanders out into a real world that his imagination transforms into something wonderfully surreal is his inner voice; Newley uses facial expressions in the style of silent movie actors to convey what he’s thinking as his dubbed thoughts provide a running commentary on what he sees. It’s remarkable to realise ITV had only been in existence for five years when the series was made, yet Newley satirises commercial television’s formulaic clichés with the genius of someone who had spent twenty years shouting at his TV set.

In my humble opinion, Anthony Newley isn’t remembered enough as it is; the last thing he deserves is to be only remembered for this kind of unproven and un-provable accusation, though this pernicious trend now appears to be the default setting of so many seeking attention that even if Sacha Newley doesn’t suggest his father acted inappropriately towards him (and he mercifully doesn’t), the damage is already being done to a life and a reputation.

It’s a strong, sorry possibility that half-a-decade of relentless post-Savile historical revisionism has now served to cultivate the belief that every man in the 60s and 70s expressing his natural red-blooded tendencies with willing and consenting women of a legal age was a retrospective rapist at best or Paedo at worst. Sacha Newley’s irresponsible comments have poured further fuel on a fire that shows no sign of burning itself out because there is now an entire industry that relies upon the heat it generates. And those flames don’t distinguish between the guilty and the innocent.

© The Editor


A couple of weeks after a photogenic Oxford student with a conveyor belt career smoothly lined-up for her received a suspended sentence for stabbing her boyfriend whilst under the influence, a woman one year younger than Lavinia Woodward hasn’t been granted similar clemency from our judiciary. 23-year-old Alice McBrearty has been sentenced to 16 months for having a ‘full-blown (unfortunate turn of phrase) sexual relationship’ with a 15-year-old schoolboy. Eight years between the seducer and the seduced isn’t that great an age gap when compared to, say, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone and his third wife Fabiana (a staggering 47 years his junior), Billy Joel and his current missus (33 years’ difference) or Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall (25 years); but, lest we forget, the pupil was under-16 by a few months, so that means Ms McBrearty is officially a Paedo.

The defence barrister in the case said that her client ‘is not sexually attracted to children,’ before adding ‘She will of course be branded a paedophile for the rest of her life. She is a sex offender’. As a result of pleading guilty to seven counts of sexual activity with a child while in a position of trust, Alice McBrearty is bracketed in the same legal category as a loathsome individual like Ian Watkins. After sentencing, a lawyer representing our old friends at the CPS said ‘We would like to thank the victim for coming forward and for supporting this prosecution during what has been a difficult time for him and his family.’ However, it was the father of the ‘victim’ who intervened in the affair and contacted the police rather than the boy himself. Of course, such an intervention would have severely altered the wistful ambience of Bobby Goldsboro’s 1973 hit, ‘Summer (The First Time)’, but this isn’t 1973.

One wonders how much longer the sentence Alice McBrearty received would’ve been in the reversal of this case’s gender roles; a 23-year-old man seducing a 15-year-old girl would certainly have received a prison sentence, though recent patterns in such cases suggest he’d have been looking at a tenure behind bars considerably more extensive than 16 months. Not that gender imbalance diminishes other double standards on display where this particular case is concerned. The fact remains that, going by current legal definitions, inflicting serious physical injury upon a partner is a lesser offence than providing them with practical sex education – an extracurricular lesson that it’s hard to imagine the ‘victim’ being an unwilling scholar of.

According to slavering press reports, the female teacher at a school in East London had a four-month affair with the unnamed male pupil – indulging in classroom snogging, sex acts in her car (which may have constituted the ‘full-blown’ aspect of the relationship), and the inevitable hotel rendezvous; she even got her leg over with him at her parents’ home. The judge’s summary included the observation that ‘I accept you truly believed this was a great romance, that you were in love with him and vice versa, and that age didn’t matter; but it did.’

When, way back in the 80s, I and a fellow 19-year-old were advertising for musicians to form a band, being contacted by a 23-year-old bass-player led to a shared immediate opinion that this ‘old man’ was a bit suspect, believing if he hadn’t found fame and fortune at the advanced age of 23 he was evidently doomed to obscurity. Remembering this serves as a reminder of how a mere four-year gap makes a difference at 19, something that was brought back to me not so long ago when I overheard a conversation between two student girls mulling over whether or not to accept the offer of a potential flatmate also aged 23; ‘He sounds a bit weird’ opined one of them, a character summary which appeared to be solely based on his age. The chasm is perhaps wider than one cares to recall when distanced from the adolescent mindset – though I’ve no doubt this was part of the attraction for the boy inducted into a world he probably craved to be a member of when he encountered Alice McBrearty.

Judge Sheelagh Canavan said that Ms McBrearty was ‘a bright, intelligent and gifted young woman who knew right from wrong’ who nevertheless committed ‘the grossest breach of trust’. The judge accepted the ‘victim’ was consenting, adding ‘What 15-year-old schoolboy would turn down such an attractive offer?’ That the judge acknowledged the boy’s willing participation in the affair with a woman eight years his senior speaks volumes; but as things stand, the law is there in black-and-white, and Alice McBrearty knew it was – as did her besotted ‘victim’. The CPS interpreted their relationship from the legal perspective, as is their wont, stating ‘She conducted a sexual relationship for months with a boy, despite knowing he was under-age and she was committing a crime; she groomed him on social media and bought him gifts before having sex with him in her home, at a hotel and in her car.’

Of the two traditional sexual fantasies that tend to occupy male minds – schoolgirls and older women – the former has now been discredited as latent paedophilia whereas the latter retains its potent allure, even if it becomes redundant as the decades roll by and the only older women resemble Vera Lynn. For the average teenage boy, however, the attraction remains as relevant as the opposite does for his female equivalent; in the turbulent maelstrom of the teenage thought processes, the desire to be over-16 is predominant; the teenager in question will gravitate towards any adult prepared to treat them as a fellow adult, and that includes on a sexual level. That the genuine adult should know better is the real issue. Alice McBrearty at 23 was quite possibly as emotionally immature as the 15-year-old she seduced and may not have been the scheming predator the 16 month sentence will portray her as; but does that make her a sex offender? As the law stands, yes.

© The Editor


There’s an episode of the peerless 70s sitcom ‘Whatever Happened to The Likely Lads’ in which Bob and Terry are forced to share a bed on the eve of the former’s marriage to Thelma on account of every other available bed in the house being occupied by relatives visiting for the nuptials. Bob’s insomnia, brought about by nerves over the upcoming occasion, is momentarily eased by Terry’s advice to imagine a sexual fantasy as an aid to sleep; Bob does his best, conjuring up an exotic erotic interlude that he describes vividly to his receptive bedfellow. Unfortunately, as the identity of the mystery woman on the Caribbean beach is finally revealed, Terry’s expectation of Ursula Andress is ruined by Bob’s revelation that she is actually Thelma. Terry’s insistence that sexual fantasies are the one thing married life cannot rob a man of is backed-up by reference to his own marriage. ‘My wife was there when I went to sleep,’ he says, ‘and she was there when I woke-up; but in-between, she never got a look in.’

Some of the other shared fantasies hinted at by Bob and Terry include such off-limits ones that are no longer allowed to be aired in public – usually involving schoolgirls. Cue shocked expressions by twenty-first century so-called comedians on some crappy clips programme ridiculing the TV of a decade that produced genuinely funny comedy series that today’s woeful crop are incapable of matching. The post-Swinging 60s ‘Permissive Society’ enabled a few outré fantasies to creep into mainstream television as oblique references as well as figure in dramas that featured caricatures of contemporary Soho porn barons as lead characters, such as Charlie Endell in ‘Budgie’; but the more extreme end of the sexual fantasy underworld – S&M, for example – was easier to accept as a nudge-nudge/wink-wink aside on a sitcom rather than confronting in documentary fashion.

Sexual fantasies are private unless we decide to share them. Because they take place in the head, not even the Speech Police monitoring what we say out loud can outlaw them – not yet, anyway. Physical manifestations of sexual fantasies, such as sex dolls, nipple clamps, strap-on dildos, manacles, whips and baby outfits for adults, are items that appeal to a fairly small minority and are entered into consensually by over-18s; they provide the means to make a fantasy reality, to a small degree, anyway. That’s the thing with sexual fantasies, however; they’re utterly subjective. What turns on one person repels another.

The traditional inflatable model of the sex doll was another recurring symbol of the new permissiveness that occasionally surfaced in 70s comedy, but advances in technology – inevitably emanating from Japan – have seen the sad substitute for a living, breathing human being recently transform into an eerily lifelike android object of kinky desire; and considering the Japanese pop culture predilection for schoolgirls, it was only a matter of time before these creepy creations took on an even younger appearance to cater for that particular fancy.

72-year-old David Turner was today gaoled for 16 months for the crime of importing one of these pre-pubescent pieces of plastic into the UK. One wonders if he’d stuck a drawing of a child’s face on the handle of his Hoover and then inserted his manhood into it if that would also count as a crime. As it is, Mr Turner was charged under an archaic law in the absence of any on the statue book that cater for unnatural sexual urges towards inanimate objects – the Customs Consolidation Act of 1876, to be precise. Granted, Turner was also found in possession of indecent images of little girls, but it is the sex doll story that will grab the headlines.

The National Crime Agency and Border Force have seized over a hundred of the Far East child sex dolls imported into Britain since March 2016, and though seven people have subsequently been done for importing, it’s actually not an offence to make, distribute or possess them. No wonder the NCA has to dust down nineteenth century legislation to secure a conviction; it must have come as a relief that David Turner could be additionally nailed on charges more familiar to Paedo Hunters. Apparently, Mr Turner also had 29 ‘fictional stories which described the rape of children’, though these couldn’t even fall under the remit of the Obscene Publications Act. ‘Fictional stories’ is an important distinction, however; it matters not how badly-written they may have been, for they were pretend, just like role-play pornography, fake fannies, tits and willies – or sex dolls.

In response to David Turner’s sentencing, Hazel Stewart of the NCA claims ‘Child sex robots are just around the corner!’ And if that is indeed the case, which ancient law will cover that innovation? Even with a face and a design that might seek to replicate the look and feel of flesh, they will still be as far removed from the real thing as your laptop or your Smartphone are. If you stuck your dick in those, would that count as a similar offence? I have a feeling this is another of those future shock narratives scripted by either Chris Morris or Charlie Brooker.

The argument against sentencing people for importing these dolls into the country is that they act as a safer option for latent paedophilic tendencies to express themselves without any child coming to harm; the argument for is that such articles pander to these feelings and are the first step towards eventual abuse. Personally, I can’t see them as any different to all the other facsimile body parts mentioned in this post that are used in a sexual fantasy context; if they’re not real, no abuse is taking place. Therefore, why not enable unhealthy urges to be got out of the system with a doll if it prevents the real thing being targeted? I’ve even come across bloody plastic severed feet with a convenient hole in them to satisfy the cravings of those with a foot fetish, so it’s not as though technology can’t cover all bases.

As with the anti-smoking lobby’s illogical opposition to vaping, however, any sensible debate on such a subject seems unlikely to receive a fair hearing. These silicon infants are merely the latest manifestation of the multifaceted human capacity for finding eroticism in areas that will always be anathema to the majority. But a make-believe alternative to the gruesome horrors of the reality is surely preferable unless all such desires can be eradicated through the electric chair. After all, ‘anging’s too good for ’em, innit.

© The Editor


The damage that was done is a very modern kind of damage in that it will never go away now; it can’t when so many have a permanent foot in the parallel universe of cyberspace, where rumours and conspiracy theories are immortal. That Great British bastion of ineptitude, the Metropolitan Police Force (let’s not be nice to them by using their preferred ‘Service’ suffix), has suffered a humiliating admission of failure by paying out an estimated £100,000 in compensation to Lord Bramall and the family of the late Leon Brittan. It’s a small portion of the £2.5 million Operation Midland actually cost. The former head of the British Army is in his 90s now, but at least he has lived to see the Met pay towards his legal fees; the former Home Secretary died with false allegations hovering over his coffin.

Normandy veteran Bramall suffered the indignity of a police raid on his home in 2014, executed by 20 officers exhibiting the tact and sensitivity for which the Met is renowned; and whilst Bramall was last year the ‘beneficiary’ of a public apology from then-Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe, his wife died before his name was cleared – another blameless victim of a witch-hunt going to her grave bereft of justice. The third target of the accusations emanating from the odious fantasist still only known as ‘Nick’ was the ex-Tory MP Harvey Proctor; Proctor may be financially ruined from refusing to accept compensation accompanied by a gagging order, but he has to be admired for his tenacious determination to clear his name by not shying away from speaking out; his own legal battle against the Met is ongoing.

The shameful sham of Operation Midland, which was activated on the strength of one disturbed individual’s tall tales of Westminster VIP paedophile rings in the 70s and 80s, was the discredited fishing party promoted as ‘credible and true’ during its lifetime. That the accused were all public figures of relatively respectable reputations (certainly in the area under the seedy spotlight) added spice to the tabloid mix, but it was hardly unique at the moment of its inception. There are plenty out there who never qualified as public figures, men whose lives are in tatters thanks to similar accusations that haven’t received the damning critiques Midland inspired from broadsheet columnists, ones that contributed towards its merciful demise.

‘Nick’ is now being investigated for perverting the course of justice, though the willingness of the Met to give credence to his allegations in the first place continues to ask questions of their own credibility. The stealthy politicisation of the police across the country in recent years is naturally more prominent when it comes to the clout of the force policing the capital, despite the eagerness of some provincial forces to give the Met a run for its money; but the way in which the Met publicised the Gospel according to ‘Nick’, as though any doubts surrounding his allegations simply didn’t exist, was a glaring example of how our law enforcers were prepared to overlook inconsistencies in his stories as long as those stories fitted the post-Savile narrative, which they did.

‘Nick’ was portrayed as a classic Victim when there was an abundance of them being given airtime they neither warranted nor deserved without thorough investigation beforehand. The false allegations that wrecked the career of silent movie star Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle almost a century ago remain a stain on his name, so it doesn’t require much foresight to reckon anyone researching the lives and careers of Bramall, Brittan and Proctor a hundred years from now will probably be directed towards ‘child sex abuse allegations’, whichever medium they’ll be using by then.

In the here and now, the fact the Met eventually publicly accepted there were no grounds for suspicion re the aforementioned trio may bring a crumb of comfort to those still alive, but online it’s a different matter altogether. Some of the more fanciful rumours surrounding deceased public figures that have never even reached the Operation Midland level now have a vintage of around a decade, and the number of cyber ghouls desperate to believe the worst of these stories, no matter how ludicrous, hasn’t diminished. No compensation pay-out, however large, can change the sticky constitution of online mud.


Poor old JR Hartley would probably be beside himself. It was announced yesterday that the Yellow Pages will become a solely online service as of January 2019; the final print edition will be delivered to doorsteps in Brighton that very month, coincidentally the same town to first receive the publication way back in 1966. It now follows the Thomson Local to the print graveyard, which disappeared from doorsteps in 2013.

Although the very first UK phone directory appeared as far back as 1880, it only contained residential addresses lucky enough to possess one of the newfangled communication devices – all 248 of them; to discover the telephone number, one had to call the operator. Remarkably, it took almost ninety years before businesses began to be included in the annual GPO book; to distinguish commercial listings from private ones, the new classified section that debuted in the Brighton edition of 1966 had its pages coloured yellow. In 1973, the yellow section arrived as a nationwide separate publication in its own right, and thus an essential addition to the phone-owning British household was born, along with a TV jingle advising viewers to let their fingers do the walking.

If its arrival might appear a tad belated, it’s worth remembering how many homes were still without a telephone in 1973 – giving a neighbour’s number to a relative for emergencies was a common practice at the time; the fact it could take the GPO as long as six months to install one when it could do so due to its absolute monopoly of the industry also played its part. As objects, telephone directories (which even used to be fixtures of phone boxes until vandalism curtailed their presence) had distinctive designs; at one time, the GPO model would feature a pencil drawing of a landmark building relevant to the locality on its cover, eventually replaced by photographs when the publication acquired a glossy facelift in the 80s.

In strictly landline days, the Yellow Pages and traditional telephone directory could appear to be both the most boring books ever to cross the household threshold or an invaluable fountain of information that can now be located with a few cursory clicks. And that’s undoubtedly the reason why the print edition of the Yellow Pages is poised to vanish for good. The 1980s was the last real hurrah for the old-school directories, with the Thomson Local (and its memorable black cat symbol) joining the other two freebies on the eve of deregulation. But in the same way the rapidly ubiquitous status of the mobile rendered the old-fashioned public call box redundant, the telephone directories were gradually usurped by the online search.

Although the now-shrunken Yellow Pages has continued to mysteriously land on the doorstep as though deposited there by Father Christmas, I confess the last few editions I’ve received remain wrapped in the cellophane they were delivered in. Like that sorry tin of Bird’s Custard Powder at the back of the kitchen cupboard, one always feels it’s worth having them in the house, even if they serve no purpose these days other than to collect dust. And that’s all they’ll do from now onwards.

© The Editor


Anyone who has seen either the original 1977 BBC version of Alan Clarke’s ‘Scum’ or its even more graphic cinematic interpretation from a couple of years later will certainly be aware of just how brutal a system the old Borstal could be. Yes, the film was a work of fiction, though few doubt it was a pretty accurate dramatisation of conditions in such institutions at the time the initial play was penned by Roy Minton. With the first ‘Play for Today’ incarnation deemed too violent to be transmitted, director Clarke took the same route as Dennis Potter when his own ‘Brimstone and Treacle’ had been banned from BBC screens a year earlier: he restaged it as a movie. By the time it was released the Borstal system was more or less defunct, replaced by detention and youth custody centres. The name Borstal continued to linger as colloquial shorthand for such locations, however.

Since the Criminal Justice Act 1982, the ‘short, sharp shock’ eye-for-an-eye approach to punishing young offenders not yet old enough for proper prison has had to compete with demands for a more humane attitude based around constructive rehabilitation and an increasing awareness of the social environments that have bred criminality. It’s something of a conundrum, balancing the need to punish and make residents aware they’ve done wrong, without resorting to the excessively harsh disciplinary regime of the old Borstal model. If the system tips too far in one direction, exaggerated comparisons of Young Offenders Institutions with luxury hotels are regularly aired in right-wing tabloids as an example that whichever party happens to be running the country is too ‘soft’ on crime.

What does society do with children who don’t adhere to the rules and regulations dictated by that society or simply don’t fit into it? Those who end up being sent to a Young Offenders Institution as a last resort are presupposed to have reached an age where they can distinguish between right and wrong; those suffering from severe mental disabilities are similarly exiled from the frontline of day-to-day living, placed in care units that are both intended to attend to their special needs and to spare society from their uninhibited behaviour. The latter children are deemed to be blameless; they know not what they do. The former were traditionally regarded as wicked, not even able to boast the excuse of lunacy; therefore, they had to have the badness drilled out of them by Borstal.

A greater acknowledgement of the conditions that give rise to criminality amongst the young – social depravation as well as abuse of a physical, sexual, and psychological nature – have permeated thinking when it comes to what to do with such children in the last few decades. Attempting to break the cycle of offending before it becomes a habit is a tough task if the children released back into society then return to the same environments that bred them; moreover, the importance of not modelling the establishments on gaols – and therefore them not merely being ‘prep-school prisons’ – means it’s a difficult path to traverse. There is also the fact that some of the children have committed extremely serious crimes and are unarguably a danger to both the children around them and to the outside world.

Today the High Court ruled that a 16-year-old inmate of Feltham Young Offenders Institution in south-west London had his human rights breached by being kept in solitary confinement for upwards of 22 hours a day. Denied interaction with other residents and the access to education to which he is legally entitled, the boy – who apparently suffers from serious mental health problems – was detained at Feltham last December and is due for release this month; the cause of his detainment has not been revealed. In response to the ruling, the Ministry of Justice has declared that ‘proportionate and justified segregation’ is necessary in some extreme cases, though Feltham itself has been previously criticised for its treatment of residents; HM Inspectorate of Prisons recently claimed 40% of boys were locked in their cells throughout the school day whilst 30% had only a couple of hours a day in which they were let out of them.

Unless one is an ex-inmate, only those who have either family members (or the family members of friends) encased in such institutions can have any inside knowledge of the way in which they operate. They remain something of a secret society within society. If a Young Offenders Institution or a care unit containing mentally-handicapped children is to receive a prearranged visit from inspectors, the elements that cause concern for parents are discreetly swept under the carpet for the duration. It’s not too dissimilar to when my mother was a school dinner-lady; she once told me when inspectors were due the headmaster would ensure the most troublesome pupils were given a day-off in order not to give the inspectors the impression the school was a hotbed of antisocial anarchy. Had the inspectors simply turned up without warning, the airbrushed impression of the school they received would have been replaced by a far truer picture of the establishment.

Having a friend whose mentally-handicapped child is resident in a care unit, I’ve received several stories of the realities of such an institution, ones that rarely (if ever) leak out to the wider world and ones that certainly don’t fit the image anyone without an emotional investment in them might have of how they function. Avoidable accidents are commonplace, usually due to members of staff whose excess pounds prevent them from being as nimble on their feet as they should be when looking after children with an abundance of energy. When food budgets are often spent on meals the said members of staff can enjoy at the expense of the more problematic residents, who may not be willing (or able) to consume them, one has to question who is actually benefitting from the vast amounts of money diverted into these institutions.

Some of the stories that have emerged from the likes of Feltham bear an uncomfortable resemblance to scenes from ‘Scum’, whereas some of the stories I’ve been told of those institutions reserved for the mentally-handicapped often recall the equally nightmarish fictional portrayal of the old asylums in another disturbing play from the turn of the 80s, ‘Walter’. This whole subject is one of the most challenging society has to deal with, and one cannot but sometimes come away from it concluding that society isn’t dealing with it very well at all.

© The Editor


pc-mcgarryBack in the dark days of the Sunday Sport, if the pair of tits decorating the front cover didn’t catch the eye from the newsstand, the ludicrous headline alongside said mammaries usually did; long before the term Fake News was even coined, the Sport specialised in the silly and patently untrue. I suppose ‘Post-Modern’ could be applied to the Sunday Sport if one was inclined to be kind and view it as a parody of a Fleet Street weekend tabloid in the same way that Viz continues to spoof those trashy mags that clog-up the waiting rooms of GP’s surgeries with uncanny accuracy. These days, it’s often difficult to distinguish between the Real McCoy and the pastiche, particularly when it is the attention-grabbing headline that provokes heated debate, whether or not the causal shopper opts for the paper.

Take yesterday’s Mail on Sunday. Emblazoned across its cover was the dramatic announcement – ‘POLICE CHIEF: HEATH WAS A PAEDOPHILE’! Those that see nothing beyond that headline therefore have every suspicion confirmed. They may not even notice the ‘POLICE CHIEF’ prefix; but the headline says a former Prime Minister who never married and was never successfully outed as gay was definitely fond of little boys. There you go, job done. Mr and Mrs Public don’t need to pursue the story any further; everything they need to know is there in those four little words uttered by yet another Chief Constable from a nondescript provincial police force desperate to justify the vast expense devoted to grave-pissing. It’s there in black-and-white, in print; it’s true.

It matters not that the Mail on Sunday has actually exhibited a degree of bravery in its recent efforts at debunking some of the urban myths that have sprouted online wings where the sexual peccadilloes of dead or elderly household names are concerned; with that one crass headline, they would appear to have undone months of hard investigative work that has exposed the stupidity of the police in giving airtime to fantasists from the outer limits of the internet. To most, the word of a Chief Constable means jack shit in 2017; who in possession of half-a-brain would believe anything the police say anymore? They are inherently corrupt and terminally corruptible. Yet, some out there are willing to take the word of Wiltshire Police’s Mike Veale as Gospel. Then again, is this an ingenious ruse by the paper to highlight just how dense the men running our police forces really are?

There have evidently been no lessons learnt from the notorious ‘credible and true’ gaffe when a thick senior officer takes it upon himself to deflect criticisms of police manpower being redirected to fishing parties by making a personal opinion official before the pointless investigation has even been completed. Despite the fantasy of the so-called Westminster Paedophile Ring being utterly trashed, Mike Veale will not let it go; he claims those who have ‘come forward’ in relation to Ted Heath’s alleged hobby have made allegations that are remarkably similar. Fancy that! It’s not as though any of these tired old tales haven’t been doing the rounds in the cyber kangaroo courts for years, with members of various forums sharing their lurid fantasies and upping the satanic angle with every retelling, is it?

Mike Veale declares he has ‘120%’ conviction about the allegations against the dead PM; but even the language used advertises his level of intelligence. ‘120%’ is the language of the dim, the language of the footballer being interviewed after he’s just stepped off the pitch, like saying ‘literally’ when you don’t mean literally. Yet after the Chief Plod issued his ‘120% conviction’ to the press, subsequent PR statements from the Wiltshire Police make a mockery of Veale’s comments.

According to a police spokesman, Veale is determined to ‘ensure the investigation is proportionate, measured and legal’ and the purpose of it all is to ‘impartially investigate allegations without fear of favour and go where the evidence takes us. It is not the role of the police to judge the guilt or innocence of people in our criminal justice system’. How does that square with a Chief Constable making his prejudices public in the midst of an ongoing investigation? And are the deceased included amongst those people ‘in our criminal justice system’?

Mike Veale’s idiocy was apparent from day one, when he launched his force’s foray into time-travelling from outside Ted Heath’s former home and later denied it was a witch-hunt as the cost began to rise towards £1 million. Investigative officers even turned up at the HQ of Private Eye to peruse back issues of the magazine and see if they could uncover any suspicious references to Heath’s unmarried status; yes, I know, this is a development straight out of Private Eye’s satirical middle section, but it really happened. Where next? The home of Eric Idle because he wrote a comedy novel in the mid-70s called ‘Hello Sailor’, which featured a gay Prime Minister? Don’t rule it out.

There have been fewer easier targets than Ted Heath when it comes to this kind of posthumous character assassination; as with Jimmy Savile, he had no wife or children to take the accusers and their allies in the police and law firms to task. Also, like Savile, his sexuality was the subject of much hearsay and gossip during his lifetime; and both were disliked by many. Death and the diminishing ‘outrage’ of homosexuality as a means of ruining a public figure have simply released hounds of an even more malicious nature. And if the prominent can be ripped to shreds with such callous ease it’s no wonder the ordinary are so susceptible to the same treatment.

Come the Revolution, as Wolfie Smith used to say, maybe some of our most detestable misery-mongers will find themselves up against the wall for the bop-bop-bop treatment; added to the likes of past offenders such as Mark Williams-Thomas, Keir Starmer, Tom Watson, Liz Dux, Vera Baird, Mark Watts and ‘Nick’, we may well see the name Mike Veale. I reckon his presence could be justified, judging by his recent behaviour. I’m convinced, anyway…120%.

© The Editor


police-boxJust when you thought it was safe to put the Paedo back in the box, the blighter has escaped again. Someone call the cops! Not to worry – cometh the Paedo, cometh the Chief Constable; this time it’s the turn of Norfolk’s main man, Simon Bailey. The No.1 Bobby from the land of big-eared boys on farms also happens to be ‘lead for child protection’ of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, so he obviously knows his stuff.

Chief Constable Bailey declared on Saturday that there will be a significant increase in numbers coming forward to report historical sexual abuse in sports other than football. Without even heading for the hat-stand in the hallway and reaching for the headgear marked ‘cynic’, it’s hard not to detect the palpable relish in a statement that means we will once again see the nation’s individual police forces devoting their resources to investigating alleged crimes committed twenty, thirty or forty years ago rather than coping with the far more difficult task of solving crimes committed in the here and now. It’s the crime-fighting equivalent of opting for the cosy familiarity of Radio 2’s playlist instead of taking a risk with 6 Music because the memory-laden soundtrack of the past is easier on the ears and easier to deal with than the unpredictability of the contemporary.

In what our law-enforcers know is a tried-and-trusted self-fulfilling prophesy, the announcement by a prominent policeman (at least in his own neck of the woods) that he suspects ‘there will be other sporting governing bodies…who will come forward and who will identify the fact that they have similar problems’ is guaranteed to unleash the kind of workload the police are evidently in sore need of as well as fuelling this nation’s insatiable appetite for the subject it clearly can’t get enough of. The words ‘credible’ and ‘true’ have yet to be bandied about, but other hackneyed phrases that constitute the lexicon of the historical child abuse narrative have reappeared, just as we all knew they would.

‘Brave’ and ‘Courageous’ were employed to describe the sad TV confessions of a group of ex-footballers fulfilling the moral obligation of the moment by providing a voyeuristic public and a salacious media with the most intimate and explicit personal details of their pasts; and, of course, ‘other victims coming forward’, that other old chestnut, was wheeled out for one more encore. As we are informed that four separate forces are stepping into their customised police boxes for further journeys back in time following last week’s high-profile revelations of a former youth coach who has already served time and is recognised as a past offender, the farcical national inquiry into child sex abuse has said it is ‘watching events closely’, perhaps intending to add football to its itinerary in around three or four years time.

The NSPCC, supposedly a children’s charity, has become the unofficial sponsor of the grown men whose miserable childhoods took place decades ago; the usual ambulance-chasing law firms have pricked-up their ears at a development that holds the prospect of fresh exploitation as well as financial salvation; and Crewe Alexandra, the perennial lower-league dwellers who once employed Barry Bennell, the man at the centre of these allegations, are apparently launching their own investigation into the unpleasant affair to boot. The wheels of the industry are being oiled anew and timing, as ever, is everything.

The BBC has given extensive coverage to this story, excitedly rounding-up the ex-pros to spill the beans on Victoria Derbyshire’s coffee-table chinwag in classic Oprah Winfrey fashion; one can’t help but suspect the Corporation is rubbing its hands together as it has done on numerous occasions post-Savile, eager to prove it wasn’t alone in allowing rampant Paedos to fiddle about to their dark heart’s content on their premises in the past. And, of course, the boys in blue, still smarting from the justifiable condemnation they received following the publication of the report into Operation Midland, are desperate to deflect attention away from their own ineptitude and corruption of justice, hoping they can win back the public’s trust in them by embarking upon a new mission against the common enemy.

As the most extreme extension of the ‘they’re all at it’ conspiracy theory conviction, the historical child abuse industry has been one of the few post-2008 success stories in the UK over the last five years; and like every booming business, it has a network of individuals and institutions that are financially dependent upon it. What would become of the arms industry, after all, if there were no wars taking place in which the latest weaponry was required?

Likewise, having exhausted the respective worlds of showbiz, politics, academia and various branches of Christianity, this particular industry has spent a great deal of time and energy engaged in a search for the next untapped source of revenue. So far, sport – usually bogged-down with match-fixing or drug-taking scandals – has evaded the shadow of historic abuse. Now, however, its time has arrived.

Like many detached observers witnessing yet another chapter in this saga unfolding, I often ponder on how and why we got here. I sometimes wonder if the obsession of Britain with a rare sexual peccadillo and the belief that every outlet of ‘the establishment’ has been a haven for its practitioners due to institutionalised blind eyes betrays a deep grievance with this society’s social and financial inequality. Intense envy of the rich, the famous and the powerful has grown in line with the dramatic decrease of social mobility; and as economic divisions widen rather than narrow it would appear the only way in which many can deal with the harsh truth that they will die in possible poverty and undoubted obscurity is to take the rich, famous and powerful down with them. Unfortunately, the beneficiaries of this nihilistic approach to a hopeless situation are themselves, if not famous, then increasingly rich and increasingly powerful.

© The Editor


ted-heathIt’s probably true to say Ted Heath was his own worst enemy. Britain’s Prime Minister from June 1970 to February 1974 was famed for his cold, brusque aloofness in company, ignoring VIPs, dignitaries and his own MPs at social functions and earning a reputation as a rather pompous and grumpy old so-and-so that won him few friends and cost him support amongst his peers when he needed it. Yet he himself couldn’t understand why people found it so hard to warm to him; he always saw everyone else as the problem. He came across as uncomfortable, stiff-necked and ill-at-ease when PM both on television and when speaking in public, a poor communicator struggling to get his message across to the electorate. With the possible exception of Gordon Brown, he remains on paper perhaps the most unsuited man for the job in the post-war era, an unlikely candidate for Downing Street if ever there was one.

Yet, put a baton in his hand and stick him in front of an orchestra or sit him down at a grand piano, and he was in his element. A diffident and difficult man whose shyness was often perceived as straightforward rudeness, Heath relaxed when with those who shared his passions. Music had been the main one from day one, though later in life he applied himself to mastering the art of sailing and this became his other great love. The determination he displayed when it came to learning the latter mirrored his political ambitions. Despite his evident limitations for public office, he wouldn’t be swayed and the work he put in was eventually rewarded when he won the contest to succeed Sir Alec Douglas Home as Tory leader in 1965. Five years later he scored a shock win over Labour PM Harold Wilson, a man who had repeatedly dismissed Heath as a lightweight up until polling day in 1970.

We’re so used to the nauseating ‘family shots’ of Prime Minister with spouse and children these days that it seems even more bizarre now to have had a bachelor at No.10 forty-five years ago, let alone one who sought solace of an evening by playing the piano and then took a couple of weeks off from running the country to compete in, and win, a prestigious yachting competition. Heath was certainly his own man, refusing to enter into a marriage solely for PR reasons and brushing off predictable rumours he was an old poof (to use the parlance of the time). Heath became PM just three years after the decriminalisation of homosexuality, though the accusation remained the default insult to aim at the unmarried man; those who were genuinely homosexual during that era tended to marry, such as Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe, as a means of deflecting accusations, though Heath had no idea how to interact with women in a romantic manner and didn’t bother trying just for the sake of his public image.

After innumerable difficulties with bolshie unions and Northern Ireland, as well as antagonism over his pushing of Britain to join the Common Market, the Three Day Week was the final straw for the electorate. After losing two General Elections in 1974 and surrendering No.10 to his nemesis Harold Wilson, Heath’s days were numbered. When his unpopularity in his own party gifted Margaret Thatcher the kind of support required to topple Heath as leader in 1975, Heath couldn’t fathom why it had happened and for a good year or so was convinced he could regain his position; when Thatcher won the General Election in 1979, her decision not to award a Cabinet post to her still-active predecessor provoked one of the great public sulks in British political history, one that didn’t end until Thatcher herself was toppled in 1990.

During half-a-century as a serving MP, Edward Heath made many enemies and wasn’t prepared to compromise in order to court popularity. His relatively humble origins for a Conservative leader provoked enmity from the old patrician Tories, who looked down on him as a social inferior, and his obstinacy as PM where the press and public were concerned lingered long after he had left Downing Street. Heath wouldn’t play the game and that kind of attitude inspired grudges that have lasted, even more than a decade since his death. Naming and shaming him as a closet gay, though there was no evidence to back up such a claim other than he never married, is no longer a sufficient weapon in our sexually enlightened day and age, so the default insult now is paedophile, a word that embodies all the revulsion once reserved for ‘queer’.

The last 16 months has seen 21 presumably thumb-twiddling officers of Wiltshire Police pack their rods for a fishing expedition known as Operation Conifer, a sort-of retarded country cousin of the Met’s Operation Midland, in response to unsubstantiated accusations against the deceased PM, and have so far spent £700,000 casting their nets in the vain hope of salvaging confidence in the country’s most discredited public service. Heath’s name had already been pulled out of the fantasist’s hat worn by ‘Nick’, the anonymous accuser of half-a-dozen VIPs and their alleged part in the Westminster Paedo Ring that never was, and Wiltshire Police took it upon themselves to pursue additional ‘credible and true’ accusations even when Operation Midland was rightly recognised as the criminal waste of public money and ruination of reputations it was all along.

This week Operation Conifer was even reduced to ‘investigating’ (and I use that term loosely) the anti-Common Market incident in 1972, when a protestor threw ink at Heath as he arrived to sign on the dotted line that would enshrine Britain’s membership of the EEC. What the hell that has to do with ‘paedophilia’ is nothing other than the painful sound of a barrel’s bottom being desperately scraped. After last week’s damning report into Midland, the continuation of Conifer merely confirms the priorities of the police as a time-travelling hit squad whose interest in solving twenty-first century crimes is secondary to rooting around the dirty laundry of the dead and dying on the hearsay of mentally demented finger-pointers fresh out of therapy.

It’s no surprise they should single out Heath in a last pathetic throw of the dice. His defiant oddness in Prime Ministerial terms was a gift for them, but each victim of the witch-hunt has been an individual eccentric and square peg, characteristics alien to the consensus of the day. Operation Midland has now been acknowledged as an outrage by the media, yet few have dared to allocate the same condemnation to Operation Yewtree, the granddaddy of them all, and a project responsible for the rotting in gaol of more than one household name as well as the soiled gravestones of many more. Makes you proud to be British, doesn’t it? No, me neither.

© The Editor