NCCL officer Nettie Pollard, who worked in the organisation until the late Nineties, ‘wrote a letter inviting the Paedophile Information Exchange to affiliate in 1975’.
Pollard, a militant lesbian and gay rights campaigner and a member of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality’s executive, was a powerful voice in support of a more relaxed approached to child sex.
In 1980, she even helped Tom O’Carroll with the writing of his proselytising book Paedophilia: The Radical Case. Such support reflected her own belief that children are sexual beings and that Britain ‘should eliminate harmful age of consent laws’.
The extreme nature of her views was highlighted in a 1993 feminist book to which she contributed a chapter. ‘Far from being innocent and becoming sexual at puberty, it is now indisputable that everyone is sexual even before birth,’ wrote Pollard. ‘Babies often react sexually when being held, or in other moments of physical pleasure.’
The paedophile information exchange (P.I.E) stated aim was to “to alleviate [the] suffering of many adults and children” by campaigning to abolish the age of consent thus legalising sex between adults and children
PIE was set up to campaign for an acceptance and understanding of paedophilia by producing controversial documents. But its formally defined aims also included giving advice and counsel to paedophiles who wanted it, and providing a means for paedophiles to contact one another.
Affiliation to the NCCL
By 1978, PIE and Paedophile Action for Liberation had become affiliated to the National Council for Civil Liberties, now known as Liberty, with members attending meetings. The organisation campaigned against newspapers’ treatment of the paedophilia activist groups. Whilst affiliated with NCCL, PIE also campaigned to reduce the age of consent and oppose the proposed banning of child pornography. In 1976, in a submission to the Criminal Law Revision Committee, the NCCL asserted that “childhood sexual experiences, willingly engaged in, with an adult result in no identifiable damage” and that the Protection of Children Bill would lead to “damaging and absurd prosecutions”.
Whilst PIE was affiliated with it, the organisation argued for incest to be decriminalised and argued that sexually explicit photographs of children should be legal unless it could be proven that the subject had suffered harm or that an inference to that effect or to the effect that harm might have been caused could reasonably be drawn from the images themselves, with Harriet Harman (later deputy leader of the Labour Party) arguing that it would “increase censorship”. In May 1978, according to MagPIE, NCCL motions were passed supporting PIE’s rights, the annual meeting goes on to condemn ‘attacks’ against paedophile’s and their supporters, saying, “this AGM condemns the physical and other attacks on those who have discussed or attempted to discuss paedophilia, and reaffirms the NCCL’s condemnation of harassment and unlawful attacks on such persons.”
Documents dated from 1978 and 1979 disclose Nettie Pollard – the NCCL’s Gay and Lesbian Officer – sat on the group’s 14-strong gay rights committee with Tom O’Carroll, PIE’s chairman who was later jailed for child abuse images offences.
Miss Pollard was so close to O’Carroll that when he wrote his 1980 book arguing the case for sex with children to be legalised, he thanked her in its foreword as she had “read the whole text in draft and made many helpful suggestions”.
The archive also contained a hand written note from O’Carroll to Miss Pollard on a PIE compliments slip asking if there was any chance of tabling amendments to the 1978 Child Protection Bill, and ending on a cheery “See you soon”.
In another four page briefing note which ended with the statement in block capitals – “NCCL should oppose the Protection of Children Bill” – Miss Pollard argued: “Much child pornography does present a distressing problem, but the police already have wider powers in this field…
“Making soft child pornography illegal will not make the market disappear but rather put it in the hands of pornographers who really exploit the children and in fact put children at greater [underlined] risk, subjecting them to the more ruthless people, who are able, and are not afraid to operate outside the law.
“Protection of children is [underlined] needed, but this Bill will not do it. Whatever the law, pornography of an unpleasant kind will persist, until we create a less sexually repressed society.”
The archive also contained a handwritten note from Miss Harman to Miss Pollard dating from the late 1970s, as well as a copy of PIE’s constitution – dating from March 1975 – detailing the aims of the group including a pledge “to campaign, as members see fit, for the legal and social acceptance of paedophile love”.
Miss Pollard, who lives in London, was made redundant from the NCCL in 1997. She remains an outspoken gay activist and has an executive position at the Campaign for Homosexuality Equality.
In the group’s official publication, The NCCL Guide To Your Rights, an address was provided for the Paedophile Information Exchange at Elgin Avenue in West London. This was, in fact, the base of Release, an ultra-liberal drugs charity that received funding from the Home Office.
Annual report for 1975: Patricia Hewitt published this document in April 1976, which included a ‘gay rights’ section on page ten defending the Paedophile Information Exchange and its members
Defence: Ms Hewitt and the NCCL had described the Paedophile Action for Liberation group, which changed its name to PIE that year, as ‘a campaigning/counselling group for adults sexually attracted to children’
One motion, filed by Keith Hose — a self-confessed paedophile and co-founder of PIE — and Nettie Pollard, ‘notes with disapproval the continued harassment’ of the Paedophile Information Exchange, which is ‘working for the rights of adults who are sexually interested in children’.
For reasons which remain unclear, it does not appear to have been voted on.
In the PIE Chairperson’s Annual Report for 1975-6, Keith Hose wrote that ‘The only way for PIE to survive, was to seek out as much publicity for the organization as possible…. If we got bad publicity we would not run into a corner but stand and fight. We felt that the only way to get more paedophiles joining PIE… was to seek out and try to get all kinds of publications to print our organization’s name and address and to make paedophilia a real public issue.’
A year later, the NCCL’s management compiled a response to any journalists who might start asking awkward questions about its PIE affiliation.
It revealed that the NCCL had quietly adopted another item of PIE propaganda as policy: that prosecution of paedophiles can ‘harm’ the children they abuse.
‘We support any organisation that seeks to campaign for anything it wants within the law,’ read the statement.
‘We have had plenty of contact with PIE, but the NCCL has no policy on their aims — other than the evidence that children are harmed if , after a mutual relationship with an adult, they are exposed to the attentions of the police, Press and the courts.’
In 1978, the NCCL submitted a briefing paper to Parliament on the upcoming Protection of Children Bill, which sought among other things to outlaw child pornography.
Written by Harriet Harman, the briefing advanced an extraordinary argument: that images of naked children should only be considered pornographic if it could be proven that the subject had suffered.
Her letter claimed that such a law would ‘increase censorship’ and should therefore be watered down. ‘Our amendment [to the proposed law] places the onus of proof on the prosecution to show that the child was actually harmed,’ Harman wrote.
Her submission also advised that an image of children seized by police in an abuse investigation should be returned to its owner (rather than destroyed) following a trial unless ‘it formed part of the evidence which led to the conviction’
The foreword of Roger Moody’s 1980 paedophile memoir ‘indecent assault,’ thanking Nettie Pollard of the NCCL for ‘giving sound advice’
AGM minutes: This page reveals how the PIE was represented at an NCCL AGM at the University of Lancaster. Below the list of organisations present is Jack Dromey’s name, after he was re-elected to the executive committee of the NCCL in 1977
Again, such arguments duplicated those of the Paedophile Information Exchange.
A year later, the NCCL — with Hewitt as its leader, and Harman as legal officer — drafted a response to a government working paper on sexual legislation.
It again called for the legalisation of incest, and described the age of consent as an ‘inhumanity’.
With regard to paedophilia, it added that ‘research has consistently shown that a high proportion of the young people concerned are, in the ordinary sense, consenting or even the initiators of the sexual acts involved’.
It remains unclear whether that response was ever actually submitted.
In 1980, the self-confessed paedophile Roger Moody published a memoir titled Indecent Assault. In his foreword, Moody directly thanked the NCCL and its employee Nettie Pollard for help reading his manuscripts.
Ms Pollard appears to have had links to several paedophiles.
In addition to jointly filing a motion at the annual general meeting of the NCCL with PIE founder Keith Hose, as detailed earlier, she was in 1980 also thanked in the foreword of PIE leader Tom O’Carroll’s book Paedophilia: The Radical Case.
Despite the dubious nature of these associates, she was allowed to remain on the NCCL’s staff into the 1990s.
In 1981, O’Carroll ended up in court charged with conspiring to corrupt public morals.
Police investigating the case seized more than a quarter of a ton of indecent images, from a variety of addresses. Some showed images of a man abusing a one-year-old boy.
The NCCL was nonetheless outraged by the charges, which it felt were politically motivated. It kept a file on the case, filled with briefing papers critical of the prosecution.
O’Carroll was, however, convicted and sentenced to two years in prison.
A detective who had worked on the prosecution told reporters: ‘I’ve been dealing with hard pornography for ten years now, but what I saw in this case made me go outside for a walk. It was awful. Awful.’
Even then, the NCCL was convinced that O’Carroll had been dealt an injustice.
In her 1982 book, The Abuse Of Power, Patricia Hewitt wrote: ‘The considerable controversy aroused by the case overshadowed the deplorable nature of the conspiracy charge used by the prosecution. Conspiring to corrupt public morals is an offence incapable of definition or precise proof.’
By now, PIE was starting to unravel.
In the coming years, a string of its most prominent members would find themselves in court charged with appalling sex offences.