Policemen cannot lie

19720914-03One of the Gay News collective, Denis Lemon, was fined £5 when magistrate John Hooper decided to ignore his evidence at Great Marlborough Street Magistrate’s Court.

Denis was charged with the wilful obstruction of the footpath behind the Colherne pub in Earls Court — as reported in GN 5.

Magistrate Hooper started hearing the case on August 22 when police constable David Ford (480) of Chelsea Police said he’d warned Denis to move along four times. But when lunchtime came Mr Hooper decided to adjourn the case for three weeks.

PC Ford said he’d nicked Denis in Wharfdale Street where Denis had been standing in the middle of the road holding up traffic.

When the case started again on September 13, PC Ford had had his say, and Denis’ solicitor Mr Anthony Burton called Denis to give evidence.

He said: “I took photographs of police activity because of the number of allegations we have received of police harassment-outside the pub.

“I took a photograph of two policemen coming towards me and the flash-cube accidentally fell off my camera. I stooped to pick it up, without stopping, and they cautioned me to move on. I walked about 30 or 40 yards up the road to take pictures of the activity outside a coffee bar up the road to help us build up a dossier.

“I crossed the road and took more photographs and then I crossed back again to outside the Colherne and I was standing on the pub’s steps to take more photos, and the police warned me again.

“I walked around the comer in Colherne Road to take more pictures, and then I moved into Wharfdale Street and began to talk to about four people who were standing there, about the police activity.

“I was standing between two parked cars by the kerb. I was standing on the roadway, but there was no traffic for me to hold up.”

PC Ford said that Denis was standing in the middle of the road holding up the traffic. But, when it came to the case, he had very few questions to ask about the traffic.

Doug Pollard, another of the editorial collective, was with Denis when he came out of the Colherne. He said: “I had just come out of the pub when Mr Lemon came out. It was just before 11pm and he gave me a bag he was carrying so he could use his camera.

“He took a picture of two policemen and the flash-cube fell off his camera. As they were passing him the two policemen said something I did not hear to Mr Lemon, and he moved on immediately.”

Wolfgang G. von Jurgen, an actor, told the court: “I was in Wharfdale Road with a few other people and Mr Lemon was standing between two cars parked by the pavement.” Questioned by PC Ford, Wolfgang said:

“Mr Lemon was never standing in the middle of the road, and there was no traffic for him to obstruct.”

Summing up, Anthony Burton said:

“This is really a case where you have to decide whose version of the story you are going to accept.

“If there is to be an obstruction in law, there must be an obstruction in fact, and Mr Lemon may have obstructed the road but it was not wilful.

“Have we come to the day when serious inroads are to be made into the freedom of a press man doing his job? If there was an obstruction it was accidental and trivial.’

Magistrate Hooper, who wears a ring on his small finger left hand, said: “There was a large crowd outside this public house and I am satisfied that the defendant was cautioned to move on four times.”

Denis had pleaded not guilty to obstruction on Wharfdale Street. PC Ford’s mate was too sick to be in court to supply the magistrate with evidence to corroborate the police case, but John Hooper made his decision on one man’s evidence against the three defence witnesses.

Denis left the court in a turquoise zipper, leather jacket with matching slacks and dark blue shoes. He was accompanied by Mr J. D. Grinspoon.

In GN 8 Denis will be commenting on the decision and going further into the implications of the case.

Radio CHE

19720914-03GAY NEWS has promised you a full report on the edition of Radio London’s ‘Platform’ programme produced by the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE). Well, rest assured, it is on its way. The programme was very long, and in fact was extended to almost three hours because of the number of people who phoned in to ask the studio panel questions. This makes for an awful lot of tape to transcribe, but the programme covered a great deal of ground in such detail that we feel we ought to report it in full.

It is perhaps the most comprehensive statement that we have of where CHE, the largest of the gay organisations, is at and where it is going, and also showed up some of the internal differences of that group. Furthermore, Radio London has a limited audience (or had – at the time only those of us in the London area with VHF sets could hear it), and the Platform programme is only heard by a minority of that minority. As many people as possible should be aware of what was said.

So in order to do justice to both CHE and the programme we are holding our full report over to the next issue. We feel that to rush into print at this time would give you only an inadequate report.

In fact, CHE surprised us by dealing with such controversial topics in such detail with little of the formality or prudishness that is often their hallmark. Sex education, adoption by gay couples, marriage and mortgage, parents, school, young gays, old gays, women (though not sufficiently), relationships, cottaging, political and social groups, and many more topics were covered fairly and in some depth. Whilst one may not necessarily agree with some of what was said, it is the first time that such a statement has been broadcast in this country, and the opportunity was fully grasped.

Full marks to Roger Baker for assembling such a balanced studio panel who maintained their sense of humour in the face of some distinctly loaded and difficult questions from listeners.

One’s only complaint is that the introductory statement of facts and studio discussions went on far too long, but that may be because this ‘one’ had heard most of the elementary facts before. Anyone ignorant of gay people and gay life, and the situation for gay people in this country will have learned and profited from hearing the programme.

Death investigated

19720914-03ADELAIDE: South Australia’s Legislative Assembly is embarrassed by two Scotland Yard detectives who are in the state capital investigating the death of ex-Cambridge don George Duncan.

42-year-old George drowned in Adelaide’s River Torrens after he and another man (aged 27) were thrown into the river by four unknown attackers in the city’s major trolling area, Torrens River Park.

That was the story told at George’s inquest by Roger James – the 27-year-old – who got away with just a broken ankle.

Shortly after the inquest opened (as reported in GN 6) three members of the Adelaide vice-squad resigned.

These policemen did not deny they had been in Torrens River Park. In fact they were seen near the place where George Duncan drowned by a uniformed policeman who was told by one of the vice-men to go.

Ex-Constable Francis Crawley told the patrolman: “You’re buggering up our poofters on the river.”

Despite this the coroner mentioned in his verdict that there was no reason to believe that the vice-squad men had been at all involved in George Duncan’s drowning.

There the matter would have rested had Adelaide not just imported a new police chiei from Scotland Yard, Yorkshire-man Commissioner Salisbury. He called in two of his former colleagues to look into the drowning.

Mr Eric Millhouse asked state premier Don Dunstan when the Scotland Yard men would be going home.

Mr Dunstan said there was no limit set on the investigation, and that Commissioner Salisbury was unlikely to set a limit on the job.

Mr Millhouse said: “I understand they (the Scotland Yard men) are here at the Government’s expense.

“No doubt the Government is anxious not to increase the expenses, because they refuse to meet the costs of the witnesses at the coroner’s inquest.”

Premier Dunstan said the Yard men weren’t going home until Mr Salisbuty was satisfied that everything was finished.

Name Dropping & Festival of Light

19720914-03There were fifteen of us gay revolutionaries, and fifteen hundred of them, on that grey September Sunday in Trafalgar Square, that Sunday showground of political ping pong. Both sides wore their badges avidly and made regular appropriate sounds: – “Gay is good,” “Jesus is great”. There were religious pop songs and recitals from J. Christ’s holy scribblings, but Messrs. Longford, Richard, Muggeridge and Whitehouse were nowhere in evidence at this Nuremberg Rally 1972. Perhaps they were too busy riding round the Circle Line, planning how they could give Edwina the Jesus Christ image.

Outnumbered us gay liberationists may have been, but we certainly made ourselves heard. The famous Maurice Tasker, bastion of the London GLF office suffers from a sore throat to this day, and as for that Martin Corbett, Gay News’ butch queen and beer gut, he was going around asking every pretty male Festival of Lighter, when they last had it. There were certainly some red faces, and later on in the evening after the rally, there were some red ends too. Myself, I treated the occasion very seriously and had several discussions with Jesus freaks, who all said exactly the same thing, as instructed by headquarters. I am a sinner according to the Bible; I’m as good as dead because I don’t love Jesus. That sounds rather monotonous and I tried to say that religion was and still is one of the greatest oppressive forces, especially for gay people, since it preaches encouragement of the family structure. If Jesus loves us why is half the world starving, and why is the Pope telling women not to take the Pill, thus aggravating the population explosion. None of them seemed to take much notice of me though, so it was quite a relief when four radical feminists arrived. They really put the whole afternoon in perspective as they sauntered into the square, looking like opera singers, wearing beautiful togs by “Bona Lallies” of Colville Terrace. The afternoon was beautifully rounded off by some rather pretty festival of lighters throwing lumps of stale J. Lyons white bread at everyone in sight. Silly me, I ate it and was constipated for three whole days, after which I started shitting plastic crosses.