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Did the leader of Plaid Cymru give a 'glowing' character reference to a paedophile peace activist in 1979?

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CassandraCogno RussellWestminster
Did the leader of Plaid Cymru give a 'glowing' character reference to a paedophile peace activist in 1979?
In 1979 former social worker turned paedophile libertarian and peace activist, Roger Moody, was acquitted of indecent assault and attempted buggery of a 10 year old boy. His booklet 'Indecent Assault' tells of a 'quite influential''glowing testimonial' provided by an MP, against party HQ advice

Paedophile Action for Liberation Newsletter 'Palaver' No. 3 / June-July 1975 p.3

On Sunday 25 March 1979, the night before he was due to stand trial at the Old Bailey for 4 counts of indecent assault and attempted buggery on a 10 year old boy, Roger Moody was waiting to see if he could rely on an  MP's promise to deliver a written character statement to be read in his defence in court. Although initially keen, the MP's party HQ had told him not to appear in person on behalf of the outspoken paedophile activist, since "they feared further 'adverse publicity' after a recent bad run".[2] Who was the MP and why did party HQ forbid a personal appearance in court in Moody's defence?

From social worker to paedophile peace activist

Originally a social worker and graduate of University of Edinburgh, aged 24 Moody had got the attention of the press as secretary of the Non-Violent Action in Vietnam campaign during August 1967 [1].  The group were raising £15,000 to send a British delegation to Vietnam to suffer the US bombing with them for two months. Despite not managing to gather 50 people as intended, a group of 30 had set off for Vietnam on 4 January 1968 including 3 MPs: Anne Kerr (Lab: Rochester & Chatham 1964-1970), her husband Russell Kerr (Lab: Felstead & Heston 1966-1983) and Gwynfor Evans (Parliament's first MP for Plaid Cymru representing Carmarthen from 1966-1970 and 1974-1979). On arrival the group learnt that the President of Cambodia, Prince Sihanouk regarded their presence as a 'definite encumbrance' despite inviting them to dine at the royal palace and that their visas would not permit them to enter North Vietnam as originally intended.

Within 11 days, 3 of the group were returning home, Gwynfor Evans included, "The rest planned to stay in Cambodia for two months. At present they are living in a sports village at low rent. They are living on fresh fruit in the daytime and eating at Chinese or Cambodian restaurants at night." [3]

Although the stunt appeared to have little political effect, it made Moody some influential friends and enabled a career move, becoming co-editor of Peace News, a publication which prides itself on its 'non-hysterical' discussion of paedophilia, having published Moody's articles. In May 1968 Moody added 'pioneer of libertarian (adventure) playgrounds' to his CV when following his return from Vietnam, he organised the residents of Islington's Bemerton Estate into clearing a nearby site of rubbish to act as a temporary 'adventure playground' for children of the estate.[4]. 

After standing in protest as a 'non-election' candidate in Fulham against Harold Wilson's Foreign Secretary, Michael Stewart MP, [5] from premises at 3, Caledonian Road Islington, Moody embarked on Operation Omega - ostensibly a relief effort aimed at Bangladesh - and denied strongly by Moody as being a 'ruse' to bring about a confrontation with the Pakistan army, as alleged by Guardian journalist Martin Woollacott. [6] 

With the end of Operation Omega in 1973, it's unknown when Moody left for the States, who he co-authored 'Love for Children' with or when it was drafted, before returning to the UK and being welcomed as an attendee of the Paedophile Action for Liberation (PAL) meetings in mid-1975. In PIE Newsletter No. 8 (autumn 1975) Moody's article on Paedophile Politics credited him as English correspondent for American paedophile/'boy-lovers' magazine 'Better Life' and PAL's June/July edition of Palaver had advised members they could arrange a discounted subscription to the magazine through Moody, care of PAL. 

Paedophiles: A union within unions?

In June 1975 Moody's peace activist associates may have been surprised to read his article in Peace News blasting two People journalists for their infiltration of PAL and in his view, gutter journalism and unfounded smears.  In July, in a Letter to the Editor of Peace News Moody opined that the 'wicked ignorant press perversion' of the People had tried to imply 'child-lovers' would wish to assault or rape children which was nonsense because,

" of the things paedophiles assert is that, from all they know of each other (quite a lot), most of what they do with the young confines itself to fondling, sexual play and mutual masturbation. By and large little else 'happens' but if it does, it's because the kids really want it." [18]

Moody's particular brand of paedophile politics emphasised the protection Freedom of Association as a civil liberty could afford 'boy-lovers' and urged paedophiles to behave as if unionised in order to apply pressure for the abolition of the age of consent. Moody asked:

If all boy-lovers in approved schools or private schools were to strike, how many would be forced to close, or at least alter their regimes?

PIE Newsletter No. 8 - autumn 1975

PIE Newsletter No 8 - autumn 1975

PIE Newsletter No 8 autumn 1975  - A shorter version of this article appeared in Gay Left No 2 (Spring 1976)
Specifically, this would mean refusing to work for a mere lowering of the age of consent, or a mere handing-over of control of the young, from the courts to parents.

By 1977 the earlier notion of holding parents to ransom with strikes had switched to a defensive stance. The National Council of Civil Liberties had begun to protest about the lack of transparency of List 99 procedures - a blacklist started by the Department of Education marking down names of those teachers disciplined or reported for sex offences against children but not necessarily convicted - the criteria for entering the list was not sufficiently clear. [13]  Albany Trust had worked with PIE and PAL representatives to draft a booklet during 1976, arguing that society needs paedophiles to work with children since often they were the most talented and devoted and best liked by children. Instead of threatening a strike, it was warning against a 'purge' of paedophiles:

“Qn. 40: Teachers, clergymen, scoutmasters and youth workers are thought to be particularly prone to child-love. Are they, and should paedophiles be excluded from youth work?

Paedophiles are naturally drawn to work involving children, for which many of them have extraordinary talent and devotion. (Often they are also the ones the children value most). If this field were to be “purged”, there would be a damaging reduction of people left to do the work.” [14]

Arlo Tatum, a former Director of Peace News and Albany Trustee argued in favour of publishing the booklet against the concerns of two female Albany Trustees, Sue Barnet of Grapevine (Family Planning) and Angela Willans (Woman's Own agony aunt) on the basis that:

1. Paedophiles have the right to express their viewpoint

2. Not all paedophiles are child-molestors; sometimes children seduce adults

When a subscriber of Peace News since 1938 wrote in to express his sadness at having to unsubscribe due to the views on paedophilia the publication was now expressing, describing one of Moody's letters as 'surely something of a sick joke' the Editors' comments stated in reply:

"Eds: Far from wishing to dissociate ourselves from Roger Moody's letter, we intend to publish an article by Roger in which he discusses paedophilia at greater length." [19]

Had other Peace News readers begin to wonder what paedophilia had to do with the pacificism? 

The end of a friendship

In the middle of Operation Namibia, sometime during November 1977 Moody's house was raided. Living in a 'licensed' squat in North London, amongst a 'riot of children' due to his youth work [7], Moody was working on bringing an organisation for indigenous peoples to life, as well as being responsible for Peter, his elder brother with Down's Syndrome who he'd lived with since the death of their mother Hilda. Moody's youth work involved either working or living at the same address as The Children's Community Centre - a 'parent-controlled nursery' since 1972 as advertised in Peace News at 123, Dartmouth Hill Park, N19, [16] the same address from which Moody also signed his letters to Peace News [17].

Operation Namibia was a 'nonviolent direct action project, launched in 1975 which involved the sending of a boat with a transnational crew and several thousand books to Namibia as a challenge to South Africa's wilful oppression of Namibians.' A statement was put out concerning Moody once he was charged:

"Roger Moody works for Operation Namibia and is above suspicion as an opponent of apartheid. Since the South Africans cannot, or will not, take issue with him on political grounds it demonstrates that there are no political grounds on which to take issue...".[15]

Moody would later argue in the New York Post [8] that the police raid had been politically motivated due to his reputation and 'journalistic attacks on the establishment in a number of areas' and the misapprehension that he was 'the brains behind the Paedophile Information Exchange, of which I am not and never have been a member'. It's unclear whether one had to be a member of PAL to attend their meetings or offer discounted subscriptions to foreign paedophile magazines. 

During the raid the police seized some nude and clothed photos of his 'young friends', along with a family allowance book he was 'about to cash for one of the hard-up families I had been helping' and used it to trace the family to whom it belonged and interviewed the boys. It was from the police interviews that the charges against the 10 year old boy had arisen.

With the help of Nettie Pollard, (PIE member and NCCL Gay Rights' Officer at the time) Moody instructed local solicitor, Bob Winstanley of Winstanley Burgess solicitors who engaged barrister, Stephen Leslie to fight his case. [9] Twenty-five English friends formed the 'Roger Moody Defence Committee' in London and collaborated with Dutch friends to draft a press release for the World Information Service on Energy (WISE) - which as Moody points out 'omitted to mention that the boy in my case had at least made a charge against me, however pressured he might have been' [p.41] by stating 'On March 26th Roger Moody faces a charge of indecent assault on a young boy, which is an out-right fabrication by the police, but is a way of getting rid of an effective activist.'

The WISE press release continued:

"He has worked since 1964 in developing adventure playgrounds for city children and has written articles criticising English laws repressing children's sexuality. This proves to be a sufficiently hysterical area in English law for police to secure the imprisonment of Roger Moody at the same time 'giving a lesson' to left wing activists in Britain"

As Moody explains (with my emphasis):

"One of these 'left-wingers' was an MP from one of Britain's minority political parties. Soon after I learned the date of my trial I wrote to him asking if he would be a character witness in court. I went into detail about the circumstances of my arrest: of course I did not ask him to deliver any statement on the controversial areas I'd dealt with in articles - some of which he might well have seen.

He telephoned me immediately on receiving the letter and agreed to appear. As a friend for more than ten years and someone I had been close to in an overseas project where we both stood in some risk of our lives, I'd had little doubt what his reaction would be" [p.41]

Three MPs had traveled to Vietnam with Moody in 1968, just over ten years previously, to risk their lives under US bombs and only one could be said to come from a minority political party - neither Conservative or Labour - Gwynfor Evans the MP for Carmarthen and leader of Plaid Cymru.

When the MP he'd asked to appear as a character witness for him at court told Moody he had to put his 'minority political party' first on the orders of party HQ, Moody was bitterly disappointed. 

"I was quite stunned" - I wrote to a mutual friend the following week. "I felt Glyn had really said he was putting the party before anything else, regardless of whether the party in fact stood to suffer by his appearing on my behalf. I felt, above all, that a good friendship based on a certain idealism had come to an end."

Stunned and bitter enough to give 'Gwyn' a barely disguised name as 'Glyn'?

Barely four weeks prior to Moody's trial starting Plaid Cymru had suffered the disappointment of losing a referendum on Welsh devolution. With 3 MPs in Parliament, victories in by-elections had brought the hope of a resurgence of sufficient Welsh nationalism to win the referendum. Gwynfor may not have had a referendum to lose by the point at which Moody needed favours but by 1979 most political parties would have been hard pushed to ignore the antics of paedophile liberation campaigners in the headlines for five years and as Moody suggested, readers of Peace News, would have seen his 'controversial areas' he'd dealt with in articles published there.

"I asked him if he would do a second best, and instead of appearing in court, make a written statement which could be read out. This he willingly did, delivering it into my hands literally at the eleventh hour the night before the beginning of the trial."

However, Moody's assertion that the allegations had been sought and he'd been targeted as the subject of political smears, enforced by Mary Whitehouse's conspiracy with the police, may have resonated with Evans MP whose pacifist beliefs he allied with, believing he could be next or merely in wishing to support a friend.

So on Sunday 25th March 1979 Roger Moody did receive his written statement from his chosen MP 'Glyn' - albeit very much at the last moment.

"In the event, only two character statements were delivered to the jury: this MP's and one from a Scandinavian university lecturer, with whom I have cooperated on numerous campaigns for the rights of native people.

The judge referred to them as 'glowing testimonials' and there is little doubt they were quite influential with the twelve good women and men and true." Roger Moody was acquitted of all 4 charges and published his account of the trial and thoughts during the 16 month period in 'Indecent Assault' shortly after. 

Was the Leader of Plaid Cymru punished for (in Moody's view) his less than courageous stance on Moody's behalf with a barely concealing use of his first name despite his eventual delivery of the written statement? It would have underlined to the MP that his friendship with Moody was at an end. Was it Plaid Cymru's party HQ that requested its MP not appear in court as a defence witness for Roger Moody and why? 

Letters to Editors

In August 1983 Moody's Letter to the Editor of the Guardian commented on 53 year old Coronation Street star Peter Adamson's (Len Fairclough) acquittal for sexual offences against two 8 year old girls alleged to have taken place at a swimming pool, stating their innocence had been manipulated by the police, all to prove where Adamson's thumbs had been placed.[10] Moody suggested that they follow the Amsterdam approach of not acting unless a child complained. George Carman QC's successful defence of Adamson in the face of police surveillance, would be undermined in 1988 when Adamson appeared on the front page of The Sun in confessing to the assault as police had recorded. 

In 1984, as PIE struggled towards its public demise, another of Moody's letters to the Guardian [11] protested that a 'not so menacing a magazine', PIE's outsourced monthly 'Minor Problems' had been seized at Edinburgh's gay bookshop Lavender Menace and as a consequence Gay's the Word had stopped stocking it, 'In the long run the worst aspect of recent events may not be so much the homophobia of the establishment, but the creeping self-inflicted censorship of its victims.' 

Of Dickens' allegations over 40 children were being prostituted by adults on  Elthorne estate in February 1986, Moody wrote to his local paper to say "I'm glad to see the tenants of Elthorne Estate have given Geoffrey Dickens MP a flea in the ear over his 'child sex' allegations'. Moody called Dickens a rabble-rouser and a crusader whose 'invective and accusations' sought only the spotlight of the media. [12] Elthorne Estate had been a 15 minute walk from Moody's address at 'The Children's Community Centre' (123 Dartmouth Park Hill, N19) a decade earlier so his solidarity with the tenants of the Estate may have stemmed from then.

[1] MPs ready to share dangers, The Times, 25 August 1967

[2] Indecent Assault, Roger Moody, published by Word is Out/Peace News, 5 Caledonian Road N1, 1980, p.42

[3] British peace group banned by Hanoi, The Guardian, 14 January 1968

[4] Children clear own play area 'Adventure' site, The Times, 27 May 1968

[5] Anti-Election Man, The Guardian, 30 May 1970

[6] The dilemma of Operation Omega, Letter to the Editor from Roger Moody, The Guardian 19 October 1971

[7] The Seven Days of my Creation: Tales of magic, sex and gender Janine Farrell-Roberts, August 2002

[8]  New York Post, 17 March 1980

[9] Indecent Assault, Roger Moody, p.2 'Thanks'

[10] When the law goes below the waterline, Roger Moody, Letters to the Editor, The Guardian, 1 August 1983

[11] 'Not so menacing a magazine' Roger Moody, Letters to the Editor, The Guardian, 4 May 1984

[12] 'What this 'crusader' is really up to...' Islington Gazette, 28 February 1986

[13] 'Listomania' Palaver No 6, 1976, reprinted from Time Out No.328 

[14] Paedophilia: Some Questions and Answers, PIE, published March 1978

[15] Indecent Assault, Roger Moody, p.40

[16] 'The Children's Community Centre' Peace News, 21 November 1975, p.12

[17] 'No threat from paedophilia', Roger Moody, Letters to the Editor, Peace News, 11 July 1975

[18] 'No threat from paedophilia', Roger Moody, Letters to the Editor, Peace News, 11 July 1975

[19] ' Corrupting the young', Letter from Harold King, Cornwall, Peace News, 26 September 1975, p.16

#Paedophile Action for Liberation, #Roger Moody, #Plaid Cymru, #Peace News, #Arlo Tatum