Paedophile Information Exchange
The Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) was a prominent UK pedophile group, founded in October 1974. It disbanded in 1984.
The organization is best known for a series of scandalous mainstream media stories, in which it was claimed to have had some of its stationery functions carried out from a room at the UK Home Office (department of state - see gallery), to have been funded by them (denied, after investigation), to have been supported by numerous gay chartities and the NCCL, i.e. Liberty (substantiated). Various high-ranking members of the Labour Party such as Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt have also been dogged by controversy surrounding former associations with PIE by proxy of NCCL.
According to Thomas O'Carroll:
- "We made a terrible mistake ... we were trying to be a political organisation and at the same time we were trying to be a support organisation."
O'Carroll is using "support" in reference to the particularly high number of members who were involved in the trading of images and real life contact with minors. Modern day support organizations have a different focus - namely the mental health of MAPs.
Early history and activity
Since the majority of enquiries were from England, PIE relocated to London in 1975 where 23-year old Keith Hose became its new Chairperson. Hose had connections with the South London group of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). GLF thinking questioned the family as the basis of an economic, social and sexual system and certain sections of GLF favoured the abolition of the age of consent; their youth group had staged a march in support of this demand (however, it should be noted that the age of consent for homosexuals was 21 at the time, in comparison to 16 for heterosexuals).
Paedophile Action for Liberation (PAL) had developed as a breakaway group from South London Gay Liberation Front. It was the subject of an article in the Sunday People, which dedicated its front page and centre-spread to the story. The result was intimidation and loss of employment for some of those who were exposed. PAL later merged with PIE.
This expose on PAL had a chilling effect on PIE members' willingness for activism. 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 P I E... was to seek out and try to get all kinds of publications to print our organization's name and address and to make pedophilia a real public issue.'
A campaign to attract media attention was not effective at that time, but Hose's attendance at the 1975 annual conference of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) in Sheffield, where he made an impassioned speech on paedophilia, was covered at length in The Guardian.
In the same year Hose also attended a conference organized by MIND, the national mental health organization, where it was suggested that PIE should submit evidence to the Home Office Criminal Law Revision Committee on the age of consent. PIE submitted a 17-page document in which it proposed that there should be no age of consent, and that the criminal law should concern itself only with sexual activities to which consent is not given, or which continue after prohibition by a civil court.
PIE was set up to campaign for an acceptance and understanding of pedophilia by producing thought provoking and controversial documents. But its formally defined aims also included giving advice and counsel to pedophiles who wanted it, and providing a means for pedophiles to contact one another.
To this end it held regular meetings in London but also had a 'Contact Page', which was a bulletin in which members placed advertisements, giving their membership number, general location, and brief details of their sexual and other interests. Replies were handled by PIE, as with a box number system, so that correspondents were unidentifiable until they chose to exchange their own details. Since the purpose of this contact page was to enable paedophiles to contact one another, advertisements implying that contact with children was sought and advertisements for erotica were turned down. The Contact Page ultimately resulted in a prosecution for a 'conspiracy to corrupt public morals'.
PIE produced regular magazines that were distributed to members. The original Newsletter was superseded in 1976 by Understanding Paedophilia, which was intended to be sold in radical bookshops and be distributed free to PIE members. It was mainly the concern of Warren Middleton, who attempted to make the magazine a serious journal that included extracts from sensitive paedophilic literature and articles from psychologists with the aim of establishing the respectability of paedophilic love.
When Middleton ceased active work with PIE, Understanding Paedophilia was replaced by the magazine Magpie, which was more of a compromise between the proselytising of the earlier publication and a lively forum for members. It contained news, book and film reviews, articles, non-nude photographs of children, humour about paedophilia, letters and other contributions by members.
In 1977 PIE produced another regular publication called Childhood Rights. When the editor ('David') retired, this content was assimilated into Magpie.
In 1976 both PIE and PAL had been asked to help the Albany Trust to produce a booklet on paedophilia which was to have been published by the Trust. This collaboration was 'uncovered' by Mary Whitehouse, who alleged that public funds were being used indirectly to subsidize 'paedophile groups'. The Albany Trust was partly supported by government grants. The Trustees decided not to publish the booklet, saying that it wasn't sufficiently 'objective'. A year later a question was asked Parliament by Sir Bernard Braine but, despite a statement by Home Office Minister Brynmor John that there was no evidence of public money going to PIE, the issue was drawn out into 1978 in the letters pages of The Guardian and The Times.
Press Coverage and Publicity
In May 1977 the Guardian columnist Tom Crabtree wrote about PIE, saying they needed to 'come out into the open and argue their case where everybody can hear it'. PIE complained about the article to the Press Council and received a judgement in its favour in December 1977.
PIE's Secretary, 'David', organised a public meeting to take place on 1 September 1977 at which Dutch lawyer and member of the Senate of the Netherlands, Dr Edward Brongersma, had been invited to speak. Approximately 150 tickets were sent to the press and to organizations such as MIND and the National Council for Civil Liberties. The event was intended mainly as a press event but was also advertised in Time Out and New Society.
Before the meeting, the Daily Telegraph published an interview with 'David' by Gerard Kemp that was printed on August 23. This interview generated a significant amount of follow-up interest by other parts of the press: the Daily Mirror printed a front page story with the headline 'CHILDREN IN SEX SHOCKER'. Other papers carried similar reports, and some began to exert pressure on the management of the hotel which was due to be the venue of the September 1 meeting. Once the hotel had been identified, its management had to contend with threats of damage and violence. The hotel withdrew from holding the meeting, and the headline of the next day's Daily Mirror was 'BOOTED OUT!'
On 28 August, the Sunday Mirror reported that PIE was 'hell-bent on airing their revolting views in public' at a secret new meeting place. The paper's editorial that day said
- 'The Open University, which employs Mr. Tom O'Carroll, says that what any staff member does in his own time is his own business. However, it DOES expect to discuss Mr. O'Carroll's paedophile activities with him on his return from holiday. We say the Open University should go further. IT SHOULD FIRE HIM IMMEDIATELY.'
A few days earlier the Daily Telegraph proclaimed 'Child sex man is youth group administrator'. The Telegraph had tracked down PIE's Treasurer, 'Charles', to his job as chief administrator of a young people's welfare organization. The pressure of media attention caused Charles to offer to resign from this organisation, but its management council refused to accept his offer; they did, however, request that he withdraw as Treasurer of PIE, and he did so. But following continued reporting over the next few days Charles once more offered his resignation - and it was accepted.
The cancelled meeting was re-scheduled for Monday, 19 September 1977, at the Conway Hall in Red Lion Square, London. This Square had become famous as a location of clashes between right-wing and left-wing extremists and where a demonstrator had died in 1974. Newspapers were still interested in PIE stories and so the new venue had already been mentioned in all the national newspapers. The meeting went ahead with some GLF veterans acting as stewards. Richard McCance, former Vice Chairperson of CHE, reported the meeting:
- 'Linking arms, marching abreast, women and men together, we succeeded in entering the hall, despite flower, fruit and veg, despite being clawed and spat at, kicked and punched by many of the hundred or so who awaited our arrival like starved dogs. Over the next hour about another hundred staggered in, like the battle-scarred reporter from the Daily Telegraph, his face bleeding, raked down by fingernails. Others arrived with torn clothing. Those who tried to enter on their own were led away bleeding from head wounds to a police van. There were only four policemen on duty at this time
- 'As the meeting began, I looked at the growing crowd (now several hundred strong) and recognized from previous demos several prominent National Front thugs and sympathizers - male and female - including Dereck Day, who was featured in the Observer article on the National Front.'
British sociologist Ken Plummer who had joined PIE to conduct research on the life histories of paedophiles (among other sexual variations), reported his experience of the conference in a 1979 book chapter "Images of Paedophilia". He wrote:
- "The Conway Hall meeting brought problems. Outside, a crowd of a hundred protesters gathered - with the National Front highly visible; inside, there was no speaker - [Dr. Edward] Brongersma had returned (disgustedly) to Holland, and a new speaker had been forbidden by the church to attend. Nevertheless, about 100 people (mainly non-pedophile) did meet peacefully and successfully to discuss the age of consent inside the hall. [...] I spent 2 hours talking with about thirty people outside the meeting — as they waited to attack the departing pedophiles. [...] Apart from a few passers-by who thought the meeting should take place, and one elderly man upset at not being let into the meeting, everybody I spoke with voiced anger and disgust at both the meeting and pedophilia. [...] The remarks I gathered harboured a number of common images about the pedophile, the child and the pedophiliac relationship. While there is little scientific research in this field - and what exists usually depends upon biased psychiatric and prison samples — it does suggest that these images are out of harmony with reality."
The meeting was widely covered the next morning, with many papers using it as a lead story. The reports mainly concerned the protests and paid little attention to the discussion in the hall.
In June 1978, the News of the World ran a three-page article on the Paedophile Information Exchange based on a report of the PIE annual general meeting held the week before, which had been infiltrated by a journalist from the News of the World who had become a PIE member some months before. The report named seven members and included photographs of them. On of the people named was Thomas "Tom" O'Carroll, who by September 1977 had become the Chairperson of PIE.
Legal action against members
In the summer of 1978, the homes of several PIE committee members were raided by the police as part of a full-scale inquiry into PIE's activities; as a result of this inquiry, a substantial report was submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions and the prosecution of PIE activists followed.
In particular, five activists were charged with printing contact advertisements in Magpie which were calculated to promote indecent acts between adults and children.
Others were offered lesser charges of sending indecent material through the mail if they testified against the five. These charges related to letters that the accused exchanged detailing various sexual fantasies. It eventually became clear that one person had corresponded with most of the accused but had not been tried. After the trial, it emerged that there had been a cover-up: Mr "Henderson" had worked for MI6 and been a high commissioner in Canada.
The late Steven Adrian Smith (later Stephen Freeman) was Chairperson of PIE from 1979 to 1985. He was one of the PIE executive committee members charged in connection with the contact advertisements; he fled to Holland before the trial.
In 1981 the former PIE Chairperson, Tom O’Carroll, was convicted on the conspiracy charge and sentenced to two years in prison. O'Carroll had been working on Paedophilia: The Radical Case in the period between the initial police raid and the trial. While the charges did not relate in any way to the publication of the book, the fact that he had written it was listed by the judge as a factor in determining the length of his sentence.
In 1984 the Times reported that two former executive committee members of PIE had been convicted on child pornography charges but acquitted on charges of incitement to commit unlawful sexual acts with children and that the group's leader had fled the country while on bail. It was announced that the group was closing down in the PIE Bulletin of July 1984.
In 1978-9, the Paedophile Information Exchange surveyed its members and found that they were most attracted to girls aged 8-11 and boys aged 11-15. In 1978, Glenn Wilson and David Cox approached Mr O’Carroll with a request to study the PIE membership. A meeting was held with the PIE leadership to vet the survey instruments and, after approval, these were distributed to PIE members in the course of their regular mailing.
Despite the fact that PIE disbanded in 1984, the name still seems to have some power and crops up from time to time in discussions. In the discussions of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill in 2000, Sir Paul Beresford had this to say, for example:
- "Lightheartedly, I should like to ask the Minister to put himself in the shoes of a well-known paedophile--perhaps we could call him Gary, and imagine a little more hair and some high-heeled shoes to add some character. As a paedophile, Gary believes that it is acceptable to have sex with children. He thinks that the bulk of society is completely out of step. He belongs to a group called the paedophile information exchange, and he and his disgusting friends use the internet to exchange data, ideas, names, photographs and even films related to their paedophile activities. That is all stored electronically, and protected by a sophisticated encryption system".
Survey of Paedophile Information Exchange members suggests that most would now be classified as hebephiles - a term not in wide use at the time.
Members not mentioned
External Links and Sources
- Spotlight on Abuse - Press cuttings.
- O'Carroll, Thomas. Paedophilia: the radical case, London. Peter Owen (October, 1980).
- Robertson, Geoffrey. The Justice Game. Random House UK (1999)
- Wilson, G. and Cox, D. The Child Lovers - A Study of Paedophiles in Society The Child-Lovers - a study of paedophilies in society (backup). London. Peter Owen (1983). ISBN 0-7206-0603-9
- The Times, 17 November 1984, p. 4: "PIE member faces child pornography charge"
- The Times, 15 November 1984, p. 3: "Leaders of paedophile group are sent to jail"
- Beresford, Paul: quoted from discussion of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill, Hansard, 6 Mar 2000 : Column 812
- Christian Wolmar - In the Independent.
- Huge sums of TAXPAYER'S cash 'handed to vile child-sex pervert group' by Home Office officials - Mirror
- Home Office 'gave Paedophile Information Exchange £70,000': Group allegedly given taxpayers' money between 1977 and 1980 - Mail
- No evidence that Home Office funded paedophile group, review finds - Guardian
- Telegraph - Harman under attack
- Harman v Daily Mail: claims and counterclaims over NCCL's link to PIE
- Guardian: Patricia Hewitt
- See our page on Ken Plummer for a link to this chapter and more of Plummer's work: https://www.newgon.net/wiki/Ken_Plummer