Assistant secretary at Home Office ‘dismissed concerns about funding paedophile group’
By David Hencke and Alex Varley-Winter | 1 March 2014
A whistleblower from the department has identified Clifford Hindley as the senior official in Whitehall who, as head of the Home Office’s voluntary services unit (VSU), brushed aside concerns about government funding for PIE, the paedophile group that promoted sex with children.
Hindley, who died some years ago, was an assistant secretary at the Home Office, where he oversaw “co-ordination of government action in relation to voluntary services and funding of certain voluntary organisations”. The VSU was in the section that was responsible for “community programmes”.
Exaro has also established that Hindley was obsessed by an academic interest in gay relationships between men and boys.
A colleague at the VSU, based at the Home Office’s then headquarters at Queen Anne’s Gate, says that he was shocked to discover that PIE made a re-application to the department for funds in around 1979 or 1980. PIE was in a long list of applications to the VSU for taxpayers’ cash, he says.
He raised concerns with Hindley about why the Home Office should be funding an organisation that campaigned to legalise sexual relations with children.
But, he alleges, Hindley took the paperwork from him, and told him to drop the matter.
The more junior, retired official approached Tom Watson, Labour MP, last year and made the allegations about government funding for PIE.
Watson raised the claims with Theresa May, home secretary, who ordered the department’s permanent secretary, Mark Sedwill, to investigate.
The whistleblower suspects that Jim Callaghan’s Labour government, and Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative administration, which took over in 1979, may have provided funding for PIE.
PIE’s re-application for funding was during the period when it was affiliated to the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL). Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the Labour party, was then the NCCL’s legal officer. She is embroiled in a row with the Daily Mail over her refusal to apologise for the NCCL’s links to PIE.
The whistleblower is co-operating with Sedwill’s investigation, but it is understood to have been hampered by the destruction of documents, especially for the period of the Conservative government from 1979.
Hindley, who is at the centre of the investigation, studied classics and philosophy at Oxford university, and theology at Cambridge.
He started as a scholar on the New Testament, publishing several academic articles. Then, mid-career, he moved to the civil service.
He continued a strong interest in music as an amateur pianist and choral singer.
He left the Home Office by 1983. In his retirement, he wrote erudite articles for academic magazines on same-sex relationships in operas by Benjamin Britten, the great English composer of the 20th century. One source familiar with his work told Exaro that Hindley was a personal friend of Britten’s.
Hindley wrote, for example, an article, ‘Homosexual Self-Affirmation and Self-Oppression in Two Britten Operas’, for Musical Quarterly in 1992.
For ‘The Cambridge Companion to Benjamin Britten’, he wrote a chapter on same-sex relationships between men and youths in two of the composer’s operas, ‘Billy Budd’, which centres on a young apprentice, and ‘Death in Venice’, a piece about an old man’s obsession with a 15-year-old boy. The book was published in 1999.
Ian Pace, a lecturer in music at City university, where he is head of performance, said: “It is very hard to deny that there are pederastic themes in some of Britten’s operas.”
“Some of Hindley’s writings on Britten certainly show a strong interest in such pederastic elements.”
In addition, the former mandarin wrote an essay for the Cambridge University Press’s The Classical Quarterly on sexual activity between men and boys in ancient Greece as expressed in the writings of Xenophon, the historian and philosopher. The essay, ‘Xenophon on Male Love’, was also published in 1999.
He also wrote an academic treatise on whether relationships between men and youths posed a problem for the military in ancient Greece.
The latest disclosures on PIE and its relationship with the Home Office come as detectives prepare to press charges in an investigation that was sparked by a question in Parliament about a paedophile ring linked to politicians.
Update 1 March 2014 9.14pm: The Sunday People tonight reports that the Home Office provided £70,000 in grants to PIE between 1977 and 1980 – worth more than £400,000 today.
The money was given to the paedophile group under the Callaghan and Thatcher governments, and the Metropolitan Police Service’s ‘Operation Fernbridge’ is investigating, according to the report.
Watson told Exaro and the Sunday People tonight: “It is a remarkable state of affairs, and the home secretary must make sure that a report is presented as soon as possible.
“If the allegations are true, it shows how insidious an organisation PIE was that it could even convince the Home Office to give it taxpayers’ money.”
Related Stories : Child sex abuse, ‘Fernbridge’ and ‘Fairbank’: Exaro story thread