Revealed: newsletter to Conservative members of campaign plugged Elm Guest House
By David Pallister and David Hencke | 26 January 2013
Exaro can today reveal how the Conservative Group for Homosexual Equality (CGHE) sent a newsletter to its members in 1982 that endorsed Elm Guest House, in Barnes, south-west London.
The Metropolitan Police Service last week launched a full criminal investigation – ‘Operation Fernbridge’ – into allegations that many prominent people, including MPs, abused boys in the early 1980’s at the guest house.
Haroon, or “Harry”, Kasir, the surviving co-manager of the guest house, was last week tracked down and has had his home raided by police.
The Tory party fringe group’s type-written newsletters regularly publicised social venues that its members might enjoy.
Exaro has obtained a copy of its newsletter dated April 8, 1982, which carried a glowing plug for Elm Guest House.
The three-page newsletter said: “I am glad to publicise another establishment strongly recommended by members.”
The newsletter gave the full address and two telephone numbers for the guest house. “It is just over Hammersmith bridge, is well served by underground and bus services and by British Rail, and is near the M4, A3, A4 and A40.”
It added: “The facilities include a sauna, solarium and video studio.”
The newsletter’s editor is identified as Peter Campbell, a libertarian Conservative who founded CGHE in 1975 when homosexuality was still considered something of a taboo. He was a professor at Reading university’s department of politics and international relations, and died in 2005.
The copy of the newsletter obtained by Exaro also has an intriguing hand-written note from “Peter” at the top that reads: “I have now inserted the entry about the hotel but can’t find the text about the Dutch venture – could you please let me have another copy?”
Just two months after the newsletter, police raided the guest house. Its owners, Haroon and Carole Kasir were convicted at the Old Bailey of running a disorderly house, meaning a brothel.
The fact that gay Tory supporters used the guest house demonstrates the complications for the Metropolitan Police Service’s current investigation into paedophile activity rather than sex between consenting men. CGHE held fringe meetings at the annual Conservative party conference during the 1980’s, but attracted few people.
According to the minutes of its executive committee, there were 62 members in early 1981, but this had increased to 171 by late 1983.
The group campaigned for the age of consent for sex between homosexual men to be decreased from 21 to 16 – in line with the age for heterosexuals.
The same newsletter records that the group wrote to 14 Conservative MPs on a House of Commons committee examining planned legislation.
The group asked the 14 Conservative MPs to “support amendments” that would “end imprisonment as a punishment for men convicted of importuning other men.”
It “expressed the hope that discussion of an amendment to reduce the age of consent to 18 would cause them to reduce it to 16.”
CGHE’s president from 1980 until his death in 1987 was Ian Harvey, who resigned as a junior Conservative foreign minister in 1958 after being arrested for being found in the bushes with a member of the Coldstream Guards in St James’s Park.
Harvey tried to make a run for it after police arrested him, but was recaptured. He attempted to give a false name to police. A charge of gross indecency was dropped, but he was fined £5 for breach of park regulations.
Papers relating to the alleged paedophile brothel identify two former Conservative cabinet ministers, as well as seven other MPs from different political parties and many other VIPs, as having attended the guest house.
Minutes of CGHE’s monthly committee meetings for the early 1980’s identify many people only by their initials, but about 30 members and officials are named. None appears among the alleged guests in the Moss papers.
CGHE has been succeeded by LGBTory to provide “a voice within the party for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans Conservatives.”
Meanwhile, Operation Fernbridge is investigating Richmond council’s role in the affair.