How much would he have got with a better reputation to start with?

Speaking of right-wingers who've been in the news recently, it's time to talk about former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor.

I am extremely happy to state that Harvey Proctor was not a member of any murderous paedophile group in the 1970s, 1980s, or at any other time. The man who said otherwise, Carl Beech, was convicted last year of multiple counts of perverting the course of justice by lying to police and is serving a very long prison sentence.

Proctor recently won what is said to be the enormous sum of £500,000 for the damage to his reputation from the Metropolitan Police in addition to £400,000 for his legal costs over their Operation Midland because he was one of the men investigated as a result of them at first accepting Beech's claims.

In the process of that investigation, and while saying that people under investigation should remain anonymous, he outed eight other men being investigated without bothering to ask them (or, in the case of those who were already dead, their families) before doing so.

Given that Proctor knew that the allegations were both totally false and extremely damaging, this is says more about him than he'd like, especially as it was reported that one of the eight had not been questioned by police.

I am also less happy to say that he was certainly a proud member of the Conservative Monday Club, the "home of those members and supporters of the Conservative and Unionist Parties who represent traditional conservative values".1

Looking at what some members including Proctor have said, it's difficult to avoid the conclusion that those values have included racism.

There was his speech in 1971, saying that "a coloured population of four million" would be "totally unacceptable to the people of this country".

After his election as a Conservative MP, there was his 1981 launch of "Immigration, Repatriation and the Commission for Racial Equality", which called for the abolition of the CRE, the repeal of all race relations legislation, and the repatriation of 50,000 immigrants a year.

Oh and his speech to the 1983 Conservative party conference where he said that 'non-white' immigration of 30,000 a year was "still too high".

Oh and his 1984 speech to Parliament which was condemned by Young Conservatives for talking about "true English children".

Given those – and more – it's not surprising that he was named by the BBC's Panorama programme as one of the Conservative MPs who had close links with the far-right, following a report by the Young Conservatives. He sued for libel, but dropped the case later without winning an apology, damages, or any contribution to his legal costs.

In 1985, Proctor was back in the news as one of seven Conservative MPs to vote against his government's Bill that allowed parents to exempt their children from caning at school..

.. so it was ironic when it became more widely known a year later that he liked caning young men at his home so much that he was prepared to pay them for the service. Newspapers reported he liked them to pretend they were naughty schoolboys and would beat them with his hand, slipper and a cane before taking Polaroid instant photos of their bottoms.

As most of them were under the age of consent, then 21 for sexual activity between men, this lead to him pleading guilty to several charges of "Gross indecency" in 1987 and his political career was over.

"Proctor .. pointed out that the acts for which he was convicted would not be unlawful if committed today."2

It is true that the actual offence that Proctor pleaded guilty to back in 1987 has gone – indeed it is now possible to have it removed from one's criminal record – but it is not true to say that what he did then would now be legal..3

.. because at the same time the Sexual Offences Act 2003 removed gross indecency as an offence, it also said created a new offence – if someone "intentionally obtains for himself the sexual services of another person" and "before obtaining those services, he has made or promised payment for those services" (directly or indirectly) and that person is under 18.

It's section 47, Paying for sexual services of a child, and it happens that at least one of the young men Proctor paid for their sexual services was 17.

That wasn't an offence back then, but how much of a good reputation would someone with a history of racism whose behaviour included what's now paying for the sexual services of a child have, I wonder?

  1. And who can't set a subtitle on their WordPress-based website or keep it up to date with security patches. 


  3. It's also not true to say – as some of his supporters have – that thinking they were above the age of the consent would have been a defence then if he had been sexual with women: that didn't apply to "Indecent assault", what was then the nearest equivalent charge for what he did, either.

    In any case, for "Intercourse with girl between thirteen and sixteen", the defence of reasonable belief that a woman was at least 16 only applied to men under the age of 24 (hence being known as 'the young man's defence') and Proctor was 40 in 1987.

    Given that he was reported to have a strict upper age limit of 25 for the young men he bought sexual services from and expected role-playing of being schoolboys, it'd have been a hard job to convince a court that he did reasonably believe they were all actually above 21 anyway. 

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