This is a short history of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), which became a ‘legal’ paedophile ring. It allowed paedophiles to legally organise a network which was by necessity secret. Members were able to exchange child pornography, it would be naive to think that they did not share victims of abuse also.
This history must start in 1967 when the Sexual Offences Act decriminalised homosexual acts in private between two men, both of whom had to have attained the age of 21, in England and Wales. It is important to note that Homosexuality was not decriminalised in Scotland until 1980, and in Northern Ireland until 1982.
Following the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, homosexuals in parts of the UK other than England and Wales organised in an effort to attain equality in law. One such organisation, founded in 1969, was the Scottish Minorities Group (SMG). The SMG, which was based in Glasgow, was a self-help organisation working for the rights of homosexual men and women, and had the aims of providing counselling, working for law reform and providing meeting places for lesbians and gay men.
PIE, originally chaired by Michael Hanson, began as a special interest group in 1974 under the SMG umbrella organisation. Note that paedophilia was no less illegal than homosexuality in Scotland at this time. PIE relocated to London in 1975 under a new chairman Keith Hose.
Here we face up to a moral ambiguity and legal anomaly , an ambiguity which has served to blur the boundaries between right and wrong up until the present day. Some members of the gay community quite rightly, in my opinion, agitated and campaigned for equality under the law. The homosexual age of consent was then 21, while for heterosexuals it was 16. It would not be until the Sexual Offences Act 2000 that full equality would be achieved. While others, including PIE members and members of the Paedophile Action for Liberation (PAL), a breakaway group from South London Gay Liberation Front, were campaigning for the abolition of the age of consent altogether. It is not hard to see how under the circumstances these two distinct subsections of the gay community might find common cause.
I personally, can not find it in my heart to criticise those who may have committed criminal acts against those under 21 which would today be considered legal, as long as it was consensual. I make exceptions to this general rule for legislators, members of the judiciary, and officers of the law, as there can never be an excuse for those entrusted with responsibility for making and upholding the law, to break the law, regardless of how unjust that law may appear.
It is this ambiguity which has allowed Prime Minister David Cameron to characterise justifiable public outrage against paedophilia, as a ‘gay witch hunt’, it is this ambiguity which has allowed predatory paedophiles to hide in plain sight as homosexuals, and it is this ambiguity which appears to be the reason why homosexual campaigners appear to be reluctant to criticise paedophiles.
Back to the history. Later in 1975 PAL became the subject of a Sunday People exposé , the subsequent public outrage spelt the beginning of the end of PAL, and what remained of the organisation merged with PIE.
In an effort to gain establishment respectability, Keith Hose, PIE’s chairman, spoke at the 1975 annual conference of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) in Sheffield and also attended a conference organized by Mind, the National Association for Mental Health. Encouraged by the reception that these academics and mental health professionals gave him, Keith Hose submitted a 17 page document as evidence to the Home Office Criminal Law Revision Committee on the age of consent. It is an indication of the influence PIE already had within the establishment that it was quickly brought to the attention of the then Home Secretary Roy Jenkins.
If PIEs activities had been restricted to submitting evidence for parliamentary review and putting their case at various conferences, however abhorrent the majority of decent people might find their aims, it would be difficult to criticise. After all, in a democracy it is often the case that minorities put forward views that the majority find repugnant but in a democracy the majority will always reject such proposals but PIEs activities were far more insidious.
From it’s inception PIE facilitated, through its newsletter and later through its publications ‘Understanding Paedophilia’ and the magazine ‘Magpie’, a contact network of paedophiles. Effectively, PIE became the hub of a national paedophile ring.
In 1978, until 1983, PIE became affiliated to the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL), now known as Liberty. Under PIE’s influence the NCCL campaigned for incest to be decriminalised and argued that sexually explicit child pornography should be legal unless it could be proven that the subject had suffered harm.
During the period 1978-85, when PIE was finally outlawed, the organisation was dogged by bad press, and it’s members subject to a series of arrests.
However, the long term consequences of allowing PIE to operate legally for ten years can not be overestimated. To think that an established and organised semi-covert network of predatory paedophiles would simply disappear once PIE had been made an illegal organisation would be folly. Many members, including Steven Adrian Smith who was Chairperson of PIE from 1979 to 1985, fled to Holland, where they continued to abuse children, others remained in the UK unharassed by the authorities.
The PIE network, which had always operated in a semi-covert way, no longer needed a central and public communication hub. The contacts, of a disparate paedophile minority, which would have been unlikely to natually evolve a covert organisational structure due to the necessarily secretive nature of their sexual proclivities, had already been established.
It is, in part, the failure of that generation’s politicians which included Harriet Harman, Patricia Hewett, Edward Heath, Leon Brittan, and many more, which has bequeathed to us the current unacceptable situation.
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