I’m No Pervert

All I want is sympathy, because I am no longer a filthy pervert, after a lifetime of fervent dedication and grinding.

On June 10th last I left the Picador Club in Manchester and en route to my bus-stop, called into the cottage on High St. The place was not empty, neither was it interesting, so after a slash I left by the back exit. Once outside I was approached by a dirty looking dosser who asked if I could suggest anywhere for him to spend the night.

As I am in Manchester GLF and was wearing my badge openly, I could hardly refuse to help him crash somewhere. So off we went, me making sure he wasn’t a mugger or some odious being and him making the odd grunt.

Having decided to try the trusty and lovely Steve as a possible solution, I changed direction to go towards his place. After about half-an hour I wanted to piss again, so I nipped under a bridge near the Union Hotel. In midstream I was grabbed and told that two pigs (the speaker being one of them) had followed me for thirty minutes from High St cottage.

They trumped up a charge of gross indecency even though the dosser was some 70ft away from me (can you imagine the kind of cock he must have had?)

At Bootle St the usual insults were hurled – I had annoyed them by refusing to go to the police station until one of them threatened to “throw me in the fuckin’ canal”. I was called a poof, a pervert and homo etc, all of which I am – I do them exceedingly well.

One of the pigs was so resentful of my obvious talent and ability that he said he’d like “to cut the bollocks off all queers”. The dosser was found guilty, in the station, of having the same surname as one of the arresting pigs – so he was duly smashed about the head.

I was told that my GLF badge, manifesto and some leaflets would be sufficient to convict me. The dosser was told that he didn’t have a chance because of previous convictions (all 19 of them for het sexual offences). All a load of crap, obviously, as was the statement that if this nasty pig (a mere constable) opposed my application for bail I wouldn’t get it.

“Plead guilty” they said, “get it over with cheaply and discreetly and with no chance of remand in custody” – so the dosser did and was remanded at Risley for two weeks for probation reports.

I pleaded not guilty and after several appearances before magistrates eventually reached the Crown Court. The jury couldn’t reach a majority verdict – in my opinion because the judge’s summing-up was slightly biased against me.

Re-trial four weeks later in two sessions: prosecution on Friday, me (starring) the following Monday. I said I was gay and had a previous conviction for soliciting and that I was in and supported actively GLF.

The prosecution asked me if I knew High St cottage was a homosexual lavatory. I explained that a lavatory has no sexuality, het or homo, and the judge told the prosecution how to say what he had intended “was it frequented by homosexuals”.

I told him that all gays use lavatories. After stressing that the facts as stated by me were contradictory to those alleged by the pigs, the prosecution said “so in fact these policemen have told the court a pack of lies?” I said that I agreed entirely.

In summing up the Judge (Steele) said “Let’s get down to brass tacks – the policemen allege that the defendant was tossing off another man and the defendant says how could he when he and the other man were some considerable distance apart.”

The Judge also gave a brief resume of the history of the law regarding gays, with particular reference to the barbarity of some aspects and sent the jury out. Fifteen minutes later the jury returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty and I was discharged.

One gay voice has destroyed the grunting of two pigs – so we are getting somewhere. So all gays, “Fight hard enough and you will win”:

Many thanks and much love to the lovely gays who gave me moral support, brandies and rigs throughout, and to the two navvies from the public gallery for the congratulatory slap on the back.

John Probert

ED: While the term ‘pigs’ used in this news item is not necessarily the terminology which would be used by the GN collective, it is the policy of the paper to reproduce worthy articles as we receive them. We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate John Probert on the outcome of his court experiences and to further commend him for taking the course of action he took, as all too often gays take the easy and faint-hearted way out.

A Point of View

19721001-06In the last three issues [#5, p3] [#6, p7] [#7, p3] of Gay News you have probably read about Denis Lemon (me) and his brush with the law of the land. To go back over old history, I was arrested in Wharfedale Street, which runs parallel to the Old Brompton Road, and is directly behind the Coleherne public house. Although this pub needs no introduction to the majority of London gay men it might be useful to out-of-towners to know that the Coleherne is one of the busiest gay pubs in London.

On Saturday 12th August shortly after closing time I was taken into custody for wilfully obstructing the footway, and eventually, after a series of remands and one false start, I was found guilty of obstructing the highway in Wharfdale Street, holding up traffic. That’s how it must have seemed to Magistrate John Hooper anyway.

I was fined £5 which was duly paid by a close friend of the Gay News editorial collective. The costs of the case – my solicitor’s fees, court time, police expenses, etc. — were paid by the state. The amount the case cost the taxpayers of this country could be conservatively estimated at being no less than £100.

Now the case itself is an extremely minor one, it happens to numerous people every day in every city across Great Britain. But at the risk of boring you even further with this petty case (except to the taxpayer) I would like to make a few comments on the magistrate’s decision; why 1 was arrested and the implications the case raises.

Nine out of ten persons who plead not guilty in magistrates courts, and who are subsequently found guilty, still insist that they have had the wrong decision passed in judgement upon them. I am joining that majority. To me being in the middle of the road means just that to be where one of those white or yellow lines are that run down the centre of roads. When I was arrested, I was no further than two feet away from the curb. I was also standing between two parked cars, so unless motor vehicles now have wings attached to them I don’t see how I could have been obstructing anything except the mentality of PC David Ford (480).

But apparently ‘policemen cannot lie’ (or even be mistaken) so game, set and match went to bearded PC Ford. This happened despite the evidence offered by Wolfgang von Jurgen who must now be, in the opinion of Magistrate Hooper, either an incompetent idiot with extremely poor eyesight or a perjurer. That must go for me too, because I also said on oath, that I was at no time anywhere near the centre of the road in Wharfdale street.

But as I said before, most convicted criminals (like myself) claim to be innocent when proven guilty.

I would like though – now that the case is no longer sub judice – to offer some explanations on what I was exactly guilty of. I was guilty of taking photographs of uniformed Metropolitan Police Officers whilst executing their duty. Their duty, or specifically PC Ford’s duty was that evening to “move on the queers” as it was so aptly put by the Station Sergeant of Kensington Police Station. And it is obvious now, PC Ford doesn’t like having his picture taken. In fact, he gets hysterical about it. Neither do any of the other officers who have been snapped whilst doing their almost nightly “move on there or you’ll be nicked” game outside of the Coleherne. One uniformed inspector from Chelsea Police Station got so uptight that he sent his sergeant scuttling across the road into Kensington ‘territory’ to find out what my “game was”.

My ‘game’ was to take photographs of police activity outside the Coleherne, also to take shots of the surrounding area and of any obstructions that may cause the footway and highway to be blocked. After an increasing number of arrests outside that pub, and the visual evidence of a number of Gay News collective members, it was decided that we ought to take some action. So to be fair, to both the people who had complained to us and to the police, it was decided that as well as taking statements from witnesses of this alleged harrassment, it would be best to take a series of photographs spanning a period of several weeks, to use as photographic evidence. This increasing amount of evidence, as we have said before, will eventually be passed on to the correct authorities, which include the National Council for Civil Liberties, the Albany Trust, members of the House of Commons, and Scotland Yard (with copies to the Kensington and Chelsea Police stations).

We have stated on various occasions that any photographs included in this investigation will have the recognisable features of everyone except the police officers blacked out by us, as already happened to a photograph used in GN 6.

The police’s first action concerning this collection of evidence was to arrest me, a member of the press. I didn’t at that time possess a National Union of Journalists identification card, which I am now told by informed people would have stopped the incident, but at no time was I asked if I was a union member, and it was only after considerable argument that the police believed I was from the press.

Now, I am not saying that the whole of Chelsea police station are abusing their powers, I am not even saying that all the officers who are almost nightly sent down to the Coleherne are, but a number of police officers are abusing their powers, and as a result are helping to create a bad name for the whole of the Metropolitan Police force in London, as well as causing considerable ill-feeling amongst the pub’s customers, who in time might be pushed just a little too far by certain uniformed bullies. I suggest that, even before Gay New’s report is finished, the police themselves start an investigation into this unnecessary harassment and time-wasting. Aren’t they themselves always saying that as a result of a lack of manpower, a lot of serious crime is not being prevented, and that detection is hindered continually for the same reason?

I would add that I regard the whole affair (and the incident described in GN 6, where I was taken into custody for a few hours for suspected possession of a stolen camera) as yet another example of the police overstepping their authority, and as proof that homosexuals are still subject to the sort of ridicule and harassment that has been a common feature of gay life for far too long. Can one completely condemn the mindlessness of “queer-bashing skinheads” when they are set such a good example by those who should most certainly know better? I would think it only right to ask for the dismissal from the force of any police officers who are proven to have exceeded their powers in cases such as this.

Gay News is now trying to hopefully prevent such events happening again, and our report on the situation will be completed. Until that time we would appreciate it if any member of the public, be they a Coleherne customer or otherwise, would report any incident to us, no matter how trivial it may appear to them, that they might witness or experience in the vicinity of the pub after 10.30 pm on any evening.

This could happen to you

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.

  1. 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).
  2. A second person aged about thirty is charged with buggery with a minor (section 12(i) of the 1956 Act).
  3. The third (about thirty-five) is charged with attempted buggery and indecent assault.
  4. 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.

Manslaughter or murder

19720901-03ADELAIDE: George Duncan, a 42-year-old ex-Cambridge don was drowned in the city’s River Torrens early this year. London police are still in South Australia investigating this death, which was followed by the resignation of three members of the Adelaide vice squad.

George Duncan, an Australian, had returned to the country to take up a post at Adelaide University.

In May he and another man, 27-year-old Roger James were thrown into the river by four unknown attackers in Torrens River Park, the local trolling area.

Roger James broke an ankle in the fall and saw George Duncan was drowning. He shouted for help, he said at George’s inquest.

One of the attackers half-stripped and dived in to help George Duncan, but couldn’t find him. Then all four ran off.

That was Roger’s evidence at the inquest into George’s drowning.

Three vice squad officers didn’t deny they were in Torrens River Park on the night of May 10.

But, they said, they’d been drinking and had stopped off at a public lavatory near the Torrens for one of them to be sick.

A uniformed policeman in a patrol car drove up, but, he told the inquest, he was told to move off by one of the vice-busters Con Francis Crawley.

Crawley told the patrolman “You’re buggering up our poofters on the river.”

At a police enquiry into the killing. Senior Con Brian Hudson, Cawley and Con Michael denied they’d been anywhere near Torrens River Park. But when it came to the inquest they refused to answer any questions in case they incriminated themselves.

All three were promptly suspended from the police force as a result, and resigned almost immediately.

Even if the coroner returned an open verdict on George Duncan – adding there was no evidence to show any of the vice-men had been nearer than 300 yards from the death scene, Adelaide’s new police commissioner Harold Salisbury, who used to be in the Metropolitan Police, ordered another inquiry.

And to help him in this he invited his old buddies Chief Supt Bob McGowan and Det Sgt Charles O’Hanlon down under to dig a little dirt.

Scotland Yard told Gay News: “The officers haven’t come home yet, as far as I know. Any report they make will go directly to the local authority.”

A spokesman for Australia House said; “No result to this investigation has come over to us yet.”

No Evidence

19720901-04BRIGHTON: John Campbell, a 34-year-old London chef, was kept in police custody for three weeks for cottaging before the prosecution decided to give up and let him go home.

Mr Campbell, of Southgate, London N14, was put into the police cells on July 17 while the police got ready charges against him alleging that he “importuned for immoral purposes” in a men’s lavatory.

In the end the prosecuting solicitor David Nissen said the police had no evidence to offer.

He said: “I would submit that the police acted quite properly. There has been no application for bail in the last three weeks.”

John’s solicitor, Mr Cyril Chapman, said he’d asked for bail for John, but this had been refused because the police said papers on the case were being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mr Chapman said he couldn’t see how the charge against John had been brought in the first place.

Mr Nissen said that John made a habit of going to Brighton to “meet other men”.

The magistrates awarded John £20 costs against the police. The chairman, Mr Harry Brogden, said the court had sympathy for John and the £20 would cover his costs.

The man he’d met in Brighton, Paul Mitchell, 20, of no fixed address was put on probation for two years for stealing clothes and a railway ticket from John.

Manchester Club hits out at Women. Five arrested

01-197205XX 3Early in March Samantha’s, a gay club in Manchester, changed its policy of freely admitting women members and allowing them to sign in as guests. One night two women members of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, one a Samantha’s member and the other her guest, were refused admittance. They were told that the club no longer had women members. Later this statement was changed to stating that although the club had women members, no more women would be allowed to join, and existing women members were no longer allowed to sign in guests. A dialogue with the owner of the coub-failed to produce any change in this policy and as it was in direct pooosition to CHE’s objective of equality between women and men, and likely to produce an all-male ghetto club, it was decided that leaflets would be produced to be given to people going into the club, containing details of what had occured and stating the objections. It asked those people who were against the club’s policy to say so to its management.

The first night the leaflets were given out the management told us to go home, it was too cold for fooling about. The second night they were less pleased to see us and an irate/scared member called the police, who told us to go, otherwise we’d all be arrested. Unsure of whether we were committing a legal offence, we decided to move.

On the day after, five of us, (Bobbie Oliver, Alan Blake, Steve Lath, Glenys Parry and Liz Stanley) gave out leaflets to the six people who went into the club. We had consulted two lawyers from the National Council for Civil Liberties who had told us that the only offence we could be arrested for was obstruction, and that if we all walked briskly about and didn’t attempt to prevent anyone from going into the club then we would not be committing any offence.

We behaved exactly as the lawyers suggested, gave out only six leaflets, saw only one car pass by: and yet were arrested. For obstruction.

We had a witness who stood nearby on the same piece of pavement for over twenty minutes, but the police took no notice of him whatsoever. The hearing was held on the 28th March, when we were committed for trial on 21st June. The prosecution said that we were members of Gay Lib and that we were trying to pressure the club into letting people of the same sex dance together. In other words, that the club was a straight one, and that we were trying to turn it gay. CHE has backed our action, and has agreed to finance an appeal if the court finds us guilty, or pay any fine they may impose.

Gay News in issue Number 2 will be reporting the outcome of this particular incident.

It seems to us that it is completely unjustified to discriminate against women in this way, and we wish the women (and men) involved every success in their fight against harassment and discrimination.

It would also seem that the many stories we hear of protection money being paid to certain members of the police force in Manchester by club owners are at times not completely without some element of truth in them. In time we will attempt to find out the truth behind the rumours.