By Mark Watts
Police raised private concerns about the interest taken by Sir Michael Havers before he became Lord Chancellor in the ‘Playland’ trial about a paedophile ring.
The revelation comes from Anthony Daly, author of a new book, ‘Playland: secrets of a forgotten scandal’, which I review today. He says that an Old Bailey memo reveals how police raised the issue with court officials after Havers was seen popping into the Playland trial that ran at the famous court in 1975.
The internal memo was posted anonymously to Daly and raises fresh questions about Havers, and his links to the Playland scandal.
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Havers was a Conservative MP and shadow attorney general at the time. He also prosecuted the Guildford bombing case in another court room at the Old Bailey towards the end of the Playland trial.
A court administrator, identified as Mr I. H. Smith, wrote the memo to another official at the Old Bailey, Mr R. H. Pickering, discussing concerns about the undue interest shown in the Playland case by Havers and anxieties that he may have talked about it to the then director of public prosecutions (DPP), Sir Norman Skelhorn.
The memo referred to previous discussions by the court officials on the matter and to a letter about it from a detective at Scotland Yard.
Tony Daly told me: “Perhaps Smith wanted something in writing to protect himself if the police pressed the issue.”
The memo adds further light to a disclosure published in Daly’s book about a letter that he was asked to hand deliver to Havers by Simon Hornby, a well-connected businessman and brother of Charles Hornby, a Lloyds underwriter and one of the Playland defendants.
Daly writes that he was blackmailed into prostitution as a 20-year-old, and both Simon Hornby and Sir Michael Havers were clients.
“He [Simon] didn’t tell me what was in the letter, but Sir Michael, being Sir Michael, did. The letter requested that he try to use his good offices in regard to a forthcoming trial, the outcome of which was of some importance to their mutual associates. Much icing on the cake was promised in appreciation.
“Sir Michael was dismissive and muttered, ‘Some bloody people think I’m the attorney general. I’m a bloody shadow.’”
Charles Hornby pleaded guilty to several charges in June 1975 and was sentenced to 30 months in prison, although he was released in July 1976. The court heard that he told police: “No one is perfect. We are all evil,” adding, “I have done things that are evil.”
Havers was solicitor general from 1972 to 1974, attorney general in Margaret Thatcher’s government from 1979 to 1987, and briefly Lord Chancellor in 1987. He died five years later.
In 1981, Havers infamously warned Geoffrey Dickens, a Conservative backbench MP, against naming Sir Peter Hayman, the UK’s former high commissioner to Canada, as linked to the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), which lobbied to legalise sex with children.
Daly says that he kept the memo, and the envelope in which it was sent, in a safe at his home.
But, as he writes in his book, he was burgled two years ago, with desk drawers emptied and papers strewn around, a filing cabinet forced open and cleared, and the safe ripped from a wall and taken. “The burglary appeared to have been executed with military precision,” he writes in Playland.
He told me: “Because it was such an important document, I kept it in a safe. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be burgled and the safe removed.”
“It was a photocopy, and the type was quite faded in parts and showed that the original had a punch-hole in the top left corner.”
He also told me that he had written a brief note about it. “I know nothing more than that about the background or context to the correspondence.”
Meanwhile, Daly has named Roddam Twiss – son of a former Black Rod – as having attended a sick party where a group of men that included Sir Peter Hayman, the former diplomat and long-time MI6 officer, watched two young boys being sexually abused.
Mark Watts (@MarkWatts_1), co-ordinator of the FOIA Centre, is the former Editor-in-Chief of Exaro. Playland is published by Mirror Books.
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