Blackmailed Spy Freed

MAIDSTONE: William Vassall, the self-confessed spy, who was blackmailed by the Russians into spying for them because he was gay and homosexuality was illegal in Britain, has been released from prison, on parole — after waiting nearly four years.

William, who has changed his name by deed poll while in prison, was rushed out of prison by his lawyer after serving ten years of the 18 year sentence passed on him for handing over Government secrets to the Russians.

He said at his trial that he was a homosexual and that the Russians had blackmailed him by getting him involved in gay sex while he was working in Moscow. This they filmed through a mirror. Because gayness was illegal when William Vassall was tried for treason, this “blue” footage was excellent blackmailer’s stock.

While he was working as a spy, William received ridiculously little for the work he was doing. His danger-man work added a mere £700 a year to his income as a junior clerk at the Admiralty.

It was this trial that caused the further erosion of public trust in the Admiralty, which controls Britain’s own secret service. Evidence at the trial also named a senior official at the Admiralty who, it was said, was planning to escape with Vassall to Russia, Mr Thomas Galbraith.

Mr Galbraith was a much more important man in the navy department than William Vassall and the Macmillan Government had to set up the Radcliffe tribunal to investigate Britain’s security measures.

The weaknesses in Government bureaucracy shown up by the Radcliffe tribunal which jailed two pressmen who refused to disclose their sources of information, helped to destroy popular trust in the Macmillan administration, which fell in 1963.

Happy days may be here again for William Vassall, but there are several questions worth asking:

Why was a ‘model prisoner’ (E. Standard) kept waiting four years for parole?

Why were the papers given so much detail about the day-to-day life of the man they used to call Aunty at the Admiralty?

How long will papers such as the Evening Standard brand him a traitor and keep him in its viewfinders? He may have been a spy, but he’s done ten years in prison and he’s now on parole.

What will the police check on when he makes his regular parole calls on the local constabulary? His sex-life?

The Boys In The Bank

NEW YORK/LONDON: Gays are coming in for some strange slaggings from the press. A rash of gay gunmen seems to be spreading almost as fast as Arab terrorists. In the first place, fresh evidence suggests that John Wojtowicz, the “gay” gunman in the Flatbush, New York, raid that started it all, who was not shot by the police, was a Mafia gunman anyway.

Originally John and Salvatore Naturale were said to have raided the Chase Manhattan Bank in Flatbush, Brooklyn, after being tipped off by someone they met in a gay bar that there was going to be $200,000 there.

In fact the $200,000 was taken from the bank almost four hours before John and Naturale raided the place, leaving about $29,000 in the vaults.

So the “gay” gunmen grabbed what cash there was and the staff when police cars screeched up, summoned by secret signals.

That was when the ordinary, everyday Brooklyn bank-raid became a curio for the world’s press. For, despite Salvatore Naturale’s denial that he was gay, the raid was dubbed “Gay Gunmen” by the world’s press because John demanded that his gay spouse Ernest Aron was released from mental hospital, as one condition of the raiders’ setting free the bank employees.

Ernest was brought along by the cops, looking a lot the worse from having just recovered from an overdose of sleeping tablets, and the hormones he’d been taking in preparation for the sex-change operation he’s promised himself.

The question remains: what was a gay Vietnam war veteran doing holding up a bank in Flatbush N.Y.?

Captain Nemo of I.T. suggests that the Mafia, who have had a running battle with the Chase Manhattan Bank used John to carry out its latest raid on the bank.

In fact, Nemo alleges that it was when Ernest found that the Mafia had sent John one of the guns used in the raid that he took the sleepers.

The Mafia boss said to be behind it all was Mike Umbers, the mob’s head of exploitation of gays. The senior Mafia men behind the raid should have got $75,000 to $100,000. The rest should have gone to the five bank-robbers, three of whom chickened out.

The “gay gunmen” raid leaves gays in New York wondering just how the whole caper relates to gay liberation and what they can do about the fact that virtually every New York gay bar is controlled by the Mafia.

Meanwhile London gays are angry at the Evening Stadard’s follow-up gay raid headline.

The Standard reported that four men snatched several thousand pounds from Barclays Bank, Knightsbridge Green.

The paper’s story mentioned that one of the bank-raiders wore pink gloves.

The headline was “Gay bandits raid bank” There was no mention made in the story of the raiders’ sexual preferences, only of their taste in gloves.

Much love and thanks to International Times – whoops, I.T., for allowing us to pinch their scoop.

Champion Case Erupts In Court

LONDON: Two gays were each fined £5 for “using threatening behaviour” at Marylebone Magistrates’ Court on October 24 after an incident when the manager of Notting Hill’s Champion pub refused to serve a number of gays in drag. Andrew Lumsden and Peter Reed were both charged with using threatening words likely to cause a breach of the peace, and of using threatening behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace.

Magistrate K. Harrington was surprised when Lumsden asked for the court to admit their “MacKenzie adviser”. Mr Harrington had the law of MacKenzie v. MacKenzie (1967) briefly outlined to him by his clerk and then agreed.

Lumsden and Reed’s MacKenzie adviser came in wearing a white robe and sat with the accused in the dock to give them advice on points of law.

Magistrate Harrington listened closely to the evidence of PC Andrew McGregor of Notting Hill police who said that after some effort in capturing Reed and arresting him. he and another policeman had set off in pursuit of Lumsden.

Reed had shouted things like “You fucking great brutes, let me in, you can’t stop me” and “Fascists, bastards, pigs, you can’t stop me. Gay Lib will support me.” when the police ejected him from the pub and had fought to get back in, PC McGregor said.

When it came to arresting Lumsden PC McGregor had been unable to do it on his own. PC B 405 North had come to his assistance, they held Lumsden by the arms, the policeman alleged, while Lumsden had lashed out with his legs as they were trying to throw him out of the pub.

When North and McGregor had got Lumsden to the police-van he had shouted: “You bloody fascist bastards.”

Questioned by Lumsden, PC McGregor admitted he’d never made a verbal arrest until Lumsden was being held down on the police van’s floor. He denied that either he or PC North had punched Lumsden in the face during the struggle inside the pub, during which Lumsden was pinioned to the floor and which had smashed several glasses, as the policemen fighting with Lumsden had hit the pub’s tables.

Once they arrived at Notting Hill police station the policeman involved in making the arrests had gone off into another room for a private conversation, Lumsden said.

Later Lumsden was seen by a police doctor who found a “surface abrasion” on Lumsden’s cheek and that Lumsden was “under the influence of alcohol”. He was challenged on this by Lumsden who produced a letter from his own doctor which said that one of his nostrils was blocked and there was a haemmorhage in his left eye. The police doctor admitted he had not carried out any tests that showed that Lumsden was under the influence of alcohol. He merely said “Your pupils were dilated.’

This evidence came after a lunch recess and a lengthy adjournment immediately following lunch. Magistrate Harrington had obviously had enough of the 20 to 30 gays in the public gallery and their bubble blowing, laughter and existence.

Throughout the morning he had shouted that he would have the gallery cleared if anyone else laughed. But the noise after lunch proved too much and he ordered the police to clear the public gallery. The gays left peacefully. It was then that Lumsden and Reed’s MacKenzie adviser shouted that there were a number of queens in court, that the magistrate was a queen and was in no position to sit in judgement on Lumsden and Reed.

He was then dragged out of the dock by PC D9, sustaining light injuries to his arm. PC D9 did not stop there. He grabbed a boy with a camera round his neck, opened the camera and exposed the film.

It is the magistrate’s choice whether he allows a MacKenzie adviser at all, but Mr Harrington finally relented and allowed the adviser back into the dock and the court started again. But this time the public gallery was largely empty.

The gays who had been sitting there stood outside the court shouting and jostling with police for some time before being allowed back into the court, two at a time.

Lumsden and Reed defended themselves by saying that there was no violence on their side, but only on the side of the landlord and police.

It was noticeable that magistrate Harrington took little interest in the defence case, becoming more nervous with each witness who appeared in drag, and consoling himself by reading Stone’s Justices Manual.

He finally decided that the language Lumsden and Reed had used was not threatening but “abusive” but he decided they did use threatening behaviour, fining each £5 and binding them over to keep the peace for a year in the sum of £20.

During the case Reed and Lumsden called several witnesses, all of whom corroborated their testimonies. But because the defendant Reed took it into his head to snatch the GN reporter’s notebook, steal the relevant pages and destroy them within the precincts of the court making him liable to three fresh criminal charges – we cannot give details of defence case and this report must remain unfortunately one-sided.

Shortly after this one of Reed’s friends told the reporter to “piss off, or I’ll thump you” – laying himself open to two criminal charges.

The other three gays arrested at the Champion on the same night, Douglas McDougal, Richard Chappie and Peter Bourne, did not appear in court for long.

The cases against them were adjourned until December, because the prosecution said, the policeman who arrested them was in hospital “although it’s nothing to do with this case.”

Note: No proceedings have been started against Reed el al for assault against the person, or property, for theft, contempt of court, using threatening words, or using threatening behaviour.