Watch Out

LONDON: Although denied by the police that the practice of using agents provocateurs in Earl’s Court is happening at all, it is apparently becoming standard police procedure in that area.

The scene of these activities, which have been widely condemned, is in Wharfedale Street, which runs directly behind the popular Colherne public house. A GN newsman had heard rumours that plainclothes police officers would be in action behind the pub after ‘closing time’. This information came from two, usually reliable, independent sources, both of whom overheard the conversation of a group of five plainclothes officers.

The rumours turned into reality, for in court last week, a 34-year-old carpenter admitted persistently importuning men for a homosexual purpose. He was fined £25.

Sergeant William Smith told magistrate Mr John Hooper that after speaking to two men in Wharfedale Street, Michael (the carpenter) then approached him and asked, “Do you want to come back to my place ?”

“You weren’t in uniform, I take it?” the Marlborough Street magistrate asked him. Supposedly not, and Sergeant Smith sounds as if he must be rather attractive.

When asked by Gay News if agent provocateur methods would be a regular occurence from now on in Wharfedale Street, the station officer of Chelsea Police Station first replied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about”.

After having the question explained in more simplistic terms, he then stated, “These methods aren’t being used. Apart from that, there’s no comment I can make”

Gay News ventures to suggest that those people who may be in Wharfedale Street, or the near vicinity, late at night, should take the utmost precautions to ensure that they are not entrapped by these dubious means.

Any developments in this situation will appear in this paper.

Christmas Extensions

LONDON: As we know that a fair number of gays in the West London area will be around over the Christmas period, we thought you might like details of the holiday extensions the most popular of the pubs in this area will be having.

In fact the four main pubs, The Colherne and The Boltons in Earl’s Court, The Champion at Notting Hill Gate, and the Queen’s Head in Tryon Street, Chelsea, will all be having the same extensions. They are: Christmas Eve, till midnight; Boxing Day, also till midnight; and New Years Eve, till 12.30 am.

Please check with the pubs yourselves to see if they are open at all on Christmas Day.

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.

Gay News case delayed

19720901-03On Tuesday, 22nd August, 1972, Denis Lemon, a member of the Editorial collective of Gay News, appeared at Great Marlborough Street Magistrate’s Court to answer a charge of “wilfully obstructing the passage of the footway of Wharfdale Street, SW10″. (see Gay News No. 5).

Denis was appearing after being remanded from an initial court appearance on 14th August.

Unfortunately the case was not heard until the end of the morning and after the reading of the charge, only the evidence of PC David Ford (480) of the Chelsea Division of the Metropolitan Police Force, was heard.

Denis was further remanded until Wednesday 13th September, where provision will be made for the length of time the case is likely to take. A number of witnesses for the defence will be called to give evidence.

Anthony Burton, the solicitor acting on Denis’s behalf, protested to the Magistrate, Mr John Hooper, at the further delay in hearing the case.

Denis is again remanded on £10 bail.

A full report of the outcome of the case will be in the next edition of Gay News.


The editorial collective of Gay News would like to further remind customers of The Colherne that they will only be taking photographs of the police and the surrounding area, and will try not to take recognisable shots of the pub patrons. Any photo that clearly shows the identity of either customers or the general public will have the faces blanked out if these pictures are used in Gay News or any other publication.

Believe It or Not

19720901-07As you may have read in Gay News No. 4, and have possibly noticed in this edition of the paper, I (Denis Lemon) have been arrested, and remanded twice, on a charge of ‘wilful obstruction’. Of course, at present I can make no comment on the case as it is sub judice.

But what I can comment on is the fact that on the Sunday evening of 27th August (at approximately 10.45 p.m.) I was taken into custody for suspected possession of a stolen camera.

Earlier that evening I had been selling copies of Gay News in The Colherne public house in Old Brompton Road, London SW5. After ‘closing time’ I crossed to the opposite side of the road to the pub, where, after seeing a group of four uniformed police officers moving people on outside the pub in an unnecessarily rude manner, I took a photograph of them.

No sooner had the flash of my camera died than the police officers came bounding across the road, as if there was an armed robbery taking place behind me. Incidentally the policemen had left their own ‘manor’ because The Colherne side of the road is under the jurisdiction of Chelsea Police, whilst the opposite side is under the control of Kensington Police. Undeterred by this minor legality I was questioned about why I had taken the photograph, and had the camera snatched from my hands in a way which could hardly be described as polite. I explained that it was my job at present, to take pictures in the vicinity, and of any police action outside The Colherne, as there have been many allegations of unnecessary harassment received at the Gay News office. This apparently was of no interest to the four policemen who then immediately started questioning me about my camera and whether I could prove, there and then, that it was mine. I told them that I couldn’t, but possibly could, if they cared to come either to my home or to the paper’s office. They weren’t particularly interested in this and told me that I would have to go to the Police Station with them.

Having recently enjoyed the delights of a cell at Chelsea Police Station, I insisted that as they were taking me into custody in Kensington that they should take me to Kensington Station.

After some discussion they finally agreed to my request with which I was bundled into the police van they had arrived in and was driven off into the wilds of Kensington.

On arriving I was searched thoroughly (even the pockets of my jacket were well sniffed for God knows what). Then I was questioned about my activities and the remote chance that I might not have committed a felony to obtain the camera. To cut a long story short, after two hours I was taken to my home where I produced the box that came with the camera when it was bought, which finally convinced the police that it had come into my possession legally. But I was severely warned that it was highly dangerous to walk about in the streets with property that I couldn’t prove was mine.

“People have gone to prison before now”, was a parting comment they left me with.

What might interest you is some of the comments the police made whilst I was their guest: “It’s bad enough that there are places (The Colherne) like that”; “Piss Off is a term used by everybody nowadays so it is unlikely to cause offence to anybody”; “Soon all you homosexuals will be driven out of sight again”; “The public has had enough of hearing about your sort”; “Papers like yours and the underground press will soon be stopped”; “If you took a picture of me I’d knock your head off”; “There are 195,000 people in Kensington who would like to see homosexuality stopped”; “The crime rate is going down so we are not wasting our time there (The Colherne)”.

Most of these comments came from the Station Sergeant at Kensington Police Station, who on various occasions throughout my two hour stay with them, informed me that I was a “pervert”, “a queer”, and “an abnormality that had to be stamped out.” He also said that he did and always would refer to black people as “wogs”, and that they didn’t mind and it was “too bad if they did”.

But what did make the whole fiasco almost worth while was the one constable who came into the room whilst the others were busy elsewhere, who said, “I’ve got nothing against homosexuals, I just get sent there (The Colherne)”. Thanks to that one police officer I still retain a little respect for the police, who are in my opinion doing in Kensington and Chelsea, one of the best anti-public relations campaigns in the history of the police force in this country.

Snippets

19720901-07We thought you would all like to know that Gay News is now regularly despatched off to the British Museum. It goes into their archives for posterity. So now we’ll become a little piece of history. Only heaven knows what the future will think of us.

o O o

Which CHE group in West London has orgies and blue movie shows on Good Fridays? Send your answers on a postcard to Julian D. Grinspoon.

o O o

In a future issue of Gay News we hope to bring you an interview with Lou Reed, ex-lead guitarist and chief song-writer with New York’s Velvet Underground rock group. Lou, who is now living in this country is currently recording his second album here for RCA. The record is being produced by David Bowie. In a recent Melody Maker interview Lou described himself as a ‘bisexual chauvinist pig’. One wonders what that means? All will be revealed in our interview we hope. When Lou completes his present recording commitments, he will begin playing live dates across the country.

o O o

Recently in London from the USA was the Motor Cycle Club of New York. Our man in Earls Court reported seeing large numbers of the club’s members in the Colherne on the evening of Thursday 24th August. On being asked where they were headed next, their ‘leader’ replied “Russia”. Good luck and Bon Voyage, see you all next year.

o O o

Incidentally, The Colherne is changing managers at the end of August. The new managers, a married couple, take over on 1st September. We hope they will settle in without too much trouble. To them too, we wish the best of luck. We trust that the pub’s regulars will be patient with them. And to Jeff, the manager who is leaving, we wish all the best in the future and thanks for the improvements that have happened whilst he has been at the pub.

o O o

And don’t forget, people, Bass-Charrington have a welcome for all behind those bright red doors of theirs. So their ads say anyway.

o O o

Competion Corner: When CHE stands up to speechify at Speakers’ Corner, why do two handsome young poicemen stand in the front of the crowd with their arms folded high across their chests ? Writers of the first 5,000 correct solutions opened will receive prizes of pocket tape recorders.

o O o

If you hear any little bits of gossip or chatty pieces of news, give us a ring at the Gay News office.

Who Was Obstructing Who?

No Photographs ~ No Evidence

05-197208XX 2At approximately 11.20 pm on Saturday 12th August, 1972, Denis Lemon, a member of the editorial collective of Gay News, was arrested for allegedly ‘wilfully obstructing the passage of the footway of Wharfdale Street, London SW10’. He was released on £10 bail later that night, and appeared at Great Marlborough Street Magistrate’s Court on the morning of Monday 14th August. After pleading Not Guilty to the charge. Denis was remanded until Tuesday 22nd August. He applied for legal aid and was remanded on bail.

It is understood that Denis will be represented by a solicitor and will be calling a number of witnesses in his defence.

Wharfdale Street, SW10, is directly behind The Colherne public house in Old Brompton Road. After ‘closing time’ on the Saturday evening Denis had been acting in his official capacity as a Gay News reporter and had been taking a number of photographs of police action outside and in the nearby vicinity of the pub. After taking a number of photographs of the police directly outside The Colherne, he crossed to the opposite side of the road where he took a few more pictures, then moved to Wharfdale Street where he was arrested whilst trying to take a shot of a number of police officers ‘moving on’ a small group of people chatting in the im street.

Denis was active that evening as he was attempting to gather documented evidence of alleged ‘police harassment’ by members of the constabulary from the Chelsea Division of the Metropolitan Police Force.

Over the past few months it has become apparent to the Gay News editorial staff, from either information received at the paper’s office or personally witnessed by the members of the collective, that the level of police action outside The Colherne has been increasing. A number of people have been arrested on various occasions.

It has also been noticed that police dogs have been frequently used by the police whilst performing their duty outside the pub. This has seriously worried members of the general public as well as customers, and the use of particularly large groups of police, often exceeding 20 in number, has sometimes nearly led to unpleasant situations to say the least. Alleged too, by Colherne customers, is that unnecessary violence has been used by the police whilst performing this almost nightly ‘duty’.

Other, more serious allegations have also been made by people about this regular occurrence. Gay News is at present taking a number of statements from individuals, which in time will be handed over to the correct authorities.

Police officers who have been questioned about these activities at The Colherne have commented that they are in the area because of complaints from local residents and because of obstructions to the highway and footway. Parking on both sides of the busy road outside the pub in fact seems largely responsible for the highway being frequently congested. A report of the outcome of Denis’s hearing at the Magistrate’s Court will be in the next issue of Gay News. There will also be continuing reportage of future developments at The Colherne in Earl’s Court.


The editorial collective of Gay News would like to point out to the customers of The Colherne that they will only be taking photographs of the police and will try not to take recognisable shots of the pub’s patrons. Any photo that clearly shows the identity of either customers or the general public will have the faces blanked out if these pictures are used in Gay News or any other publication.

We Know You’re In There

02-197206XX 4The march was scheduled to start at nine, but by nine thirty only thirty or so people were there. Since it seemed unlikely that anyone else would turn up, the march moved off. As they turned the corner into the main road, a couple of slightly hostile policemen cautioned everyone to stay off the pavement, but generally seemed to be rather amused.

The same could not be said of the employees and customers of the two main Earls Court pubs, the Boltons and the Colherne. The GLF leafletters and balloon carriers were quickly ejected from the Boltons and pushed around outside when they persisting in chanting slogans at the people within – “Come out of your shells! We know you’re in there!” and “What is Gay – Good! What is the Boltons – Crap!” did not appear to amuse anyone. All that happened was a minor exodus to the Colherne over the road. There the reception was even more hostile, and the exodus of customers back to the Boltons even larger, but the majority of people seemed singularly unmoved. In fact, there was a total lack of comprehension of one another, which made the customers ignore the marchers and drained any attempt at further action. People just stood around, and the guy from the Colherne gave up yelling “Fuck off” when it had no effect. It seemed obvious to me that no-one in the pubs saw any need for a march, and since they had come out for a drink and to cruise that was what they were going to do. People aren’t too keen to come out and be seen, and shouting at the doors of the pub they are in seemed a singularly ineffective way to persuade them that they would be better off if they did. I’m not at all sure what the march was intended to achieve anyway, but whatever it was, it didn’t. Granted, the passive acceptance of so many people of the whole “gay scene” is a depressing phenomenon, and one does wish gay people would create places for themselves as an alternative, but I didn’t hear a word about that all evening. It was all, alas, entirely predictable, right down to the policeman who moved everyone away at closing time with the immortal words “If I see any of you lot around here again, I’ll arrest you”.