Four Prisoners – Fourteen Charges
Keele Gay Lib Soc established itself early this year, and membership grew rapidly at first. The group soon noticed that the police (CID) began to show some passion for having hurried half pints in the same pub they used prior to meetings. And, coincidentally, they were ostentatiously watching the house of some gays living in the Potteries, also taking youths down to the station for questioning in the absence of solicitors, parents or guardians. It is hard to establish whether threats were actually used on these occasions.
The Gay Lib Soc were informed that the police had been assembling a dossier on all known gays in the Potteries, for the last eight months.
After consultation with the NCCL (National Council for Civil Liberties) a formal complaint was sent to the police and statements forwarded to NCCL. Shortly after this the first person was arrested (on May 31) and remanded in custody. Within about two more weeks, three more people were arrested and also remanded in custody. It is possible that an otherwise growing membership melted away because of these arrests, as the group shrank in size from this time.
The remands (at Risley) continued until about July 17, when they were released on bail – police objections that they would plant bombs, intimidate witnesses, and be the subject of ravenous lynch mobs, suddenly disappeared from the prosecutor’s repertoire.
The four came up for committal on August 7, and are due to appear in the Crown Court in about 2-3 months time. Here are the details.
- One person aged about forty is charged with nine out of twenty-six possible charges: three charges of buggery with minors (section 12(i) of the 1956 Sexual Offences Act); five charges of attempted buggery contrary to Common Law; one charge of indecent assault (section 15 of the Sexual Offences Act).
- A second person aged about thirty is charged with buggery with a minor (section 12(i) of the 1956 Act).
- The third (about thirty-five) is charged with attempted buggery and indecent assault.
- The fourth, aged about nineteen, is charged with indecent assault and ‘causing wasteful employment of police time by making a phone call to the effect that there was a bomb in Longton Police Station’.
(The latter charge omitted the fact that the police had used this as an excuse to go up into the house the boys were living in, and illegally arrest them). This boy had been summarily tried on the latter charge, and no sentence was imposed, as his lawyer so abjectly grovelled and apologised for his ‘silly act , etc.
All the four charged have straight-straight solicitors – one solicitor gets most of his bread as the local pig-prosecutor!
What remains of the Gay Lib group has tried to support the accused while on remand, and get together the beginnings of an alternative defence – but it looks like they will get a straight defence in the end – psychiatrists and all.
At least four other arrests have been expected (but this may be police panic-mongering) and the present case seems in some ways like a repeat performance of the 1968 Potteries Purge, which resulted in the murder of one boy (‘suicide’ according to the coroner) whilst on remand, and the incarceration of three others after dubious police practices (see Sunday Times 17/3/68 – ‘The Disturbing Case of the Consenting Teenagers’, page 2)
These people are still remembered in the local gay community.