Geoffrey Dickens

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Geoffrey Dickens
Member of Parliament
for Littleborough and Saddleworth
In office
9 June 1983 – 17 May 1995
Preceded by New constituency
Succeeded by Chris Davies
Member of Parliament
for Huddersfield West
In office
3 May 1979 – 9 June 1983
Preceded by Kenneth Lomas
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Personal details
Born Geoffrey Kenneth Dickens
(1931-08-26)26 August 1931
London, England
Died 17 May 1995(1995-05-17) (aged 63)
Spouse(s) Norma Boothby (m. 1956)
Children Two sons

Geoffrey Kenneth Dickens (26 August 1931 – 17 May 1995) was a British Conservative politician. He was MP for Huddersfield West from 1979 until the seat was abolished in 1983. He was then elected for Littleborough and Saddleworth and held the seat until his death in 1995.

Early life[edit]

Dickens was born in London and fostered until he was eight years old. He never had contact with his mother afterwards.[1] He was educated at schools at East Lane in Wembley and at Acton Technical College. He suffered polio when he was 13, for which he had to spend two years in hospital.

During his youth Dickens became a heavyweight boxer, sparring with Don Cockell and Henry Cooper. He had 60 bouts, of which he lost 20.[1] He worked as an Aviation Design Draughtsman at BSP Industries in Borehamwood, Herts, for whom he represented as a talented goalkeeper and became a member of St Albans Rural District Council from 1967–74, and was its chairman in 1970–71. He also was a member of Hertfordshire County Council in 1970–1975.[1]

In 1972 Dickens was awarded the Royal Humane Society's Testimonial on Vellum after he saved two boys and a man from drowning in the sea off Majorca.[1]

Member of Parliament[edit]

A Conservative politician, Dickens fought unsuccessfully for Middlesbrough in February 1974 and for Ealing North in October 1974. He won Huddersfield West in 1979 but this seat was abolished after boundary reviews. He was selected as the Conservative candidate for Littleborough and Saddleworth, which he won in 1983.[1] Described as "Falstaffian" and "the original 'rent-a-quote' man",[1] over his time in parliament he campaigned for causes as diverse as the return of hanging and the banning of teddy bears. He indicated in a 1987 BBC Heart of the Matter documentary that consideration should be given to re-criminalising homosexuality,[citation needed] and opposed the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) and ordination of gay priests.[2] He once held a press conference announcing an affair without, apparently, warning his wife.[3]

Paedophile ring investigation[edit]

Between 1981 and 1985, Dickens campaigned against a suspected paedophile ring he claimed to have uncovered that was connected to trading child pornography.[4] In 1981, Dickens named the former British High Commissioner to Canada, Sir Peter Hayman, as a paedophile in the House of Commons, using parliamentary privilege so he could not be sued for slander. Dickens asked why he had not been jailed after the discovery on a bus of violent pornography.

In 1983, Dickens claimed there was a paedophile network involving "big, big names – people in positions of power, influence and responsibility" and threatened to name them in the Commons.[5] The next year, he campaigned for the banning of Hayman's Paedophile Information Exchange organisation. Dickens had a thirty-minute meeting with the Home Secretary, Leon Brittan, after giving him a dossier containing the child abuse allegations. Although Dickens said he was "encouraged" by the meeting, he later expressed concern that PIE had not been banned.[4]

On 29 November 1985, Dickens said in a speech to the Commons that paedophiles were "evil and dangerous" and that child pornography generated "vast sums". He further claimed that: "The noose around my neck grew tighter after I named a former high-flying British diplomat on the Floor of the House. Honourable Members will understand that where big money is involved and as important names came into my possession so the threats began. First, I received threatening telephone calls followed by two burglaries at my London home. Then, more seriously, my name appeared on a multi-killer's hit list".[4] Dickens' son later said that about the time when the dossier was given to the Home Secretary, the MP's London flat and constituency home were both broken into but nothing was taken, presumably in a search for documents.[6][7]

The Labour MP Tom Watson asked the Home Office in February 2013 for Dickens' dossier.[4] A Home Office review in 2013 concluded that any information requiring investigation was referred to the police but revealed that Mr Dickens' dossier was "not retained".[5][8] After the issue had been raised again by Labour MP Simon Danczuk in July 2014, former Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Macdonald, said the circumstances in which the dossier had gone missing were alarming and recommended an inquiry into the fate of the dossier.[9] Prime Minister David Cameron asked the Home Office Permanent Secretary to investigate what had happened to the missing dossier. Danczuk responded that another internal inquiry was merely trying to limit damage, and that a public inquiry was necessary to retain public confidence.[10] The missing dossier has been linked with ongoing investigations into the Elm Guest House child abuse scandal.[11][12]

In 2015, a file from 1981 was released into the National Archives titled SECURITY. Sir Peter Hayman: allegations against former public official of unnatural sexual proclivities; security aspects, showing that the then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had been briefed on the matter before the allegations were made public by Dickens.[13][14]

Legacy[edit]

The journalist Patrick Cosgrave said of Dickens in his obituary: "Nobody thought more highly of his capacities than Dickens himself."[1] Michael Brown, who had been his whip, remembered "a superb constituency man who held down a Tory majority in difficult northern, working-class seats..."[1] Tristan Garel-Jones wrote that "Despite the conscious self-deprecation, he was shrewder than he let on."[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i OBITUARIES Geoffrey Dickens, The Independent (18 May 1995).
  2. ^ M. Malcolm D. Johnson (30 August 2013). Diary Of A Gay Priest: The Tightrope Walker. Christian Alternative. p. 115. ISBN 978-1-78099-999-9. 
  3. ^ White, Michael (7 July 2014). "Geoffrey Dickens: a Clown Whose Campaign is Finally Taken Seriously". The Guardian. 
  4. ^ a b c d Tory MP warned of powerful paedophile ring 30 years ago, The Independent (22 February 2013).
  5. ^ a b "Home Office under fire over lost paedophile dossier". BBC News. 2 July 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  6. ^ "Geoffrey Dickens 'said paedophile dossier was explosive'". BBC. 3 July 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "MP burgled after handing paedophile dossier to Leon Brittan". The Daily Telegraph. 2 July 2014. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  8. ^ Rowena Mason (2 July 2014). "Ex-minister Lord Brittan under scrutiny over 1980s dossier of sex abuse claims". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  9. ^ Georgia Graham and James Kirkup (2 July 2014). "Launch formal investigation into the lost paedophile dossier, says former DPP". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  10. ^ Rajeev Syal (4 July 2014). "David Cameron asks top civil servant to look into Westminster child abuse claims". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  11. ^ Whitehead, Tom (6 July 2014). "Westminster paedophile ring allegations: timeline". The Sunday Telegraph. London. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  12. ^ Boffey, Daniel (5 July 2014). "Edwardian house at heart of a long-simmering sex scandal". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "Westminster 'paedophile ring' investigation: Ex-MI6 spy Sir Peter Hayman named in dossier". The Independent. 30 January 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2015. 
  14. ^ "Diplomat Sir Peter Hayman 'engaged in sexual perversion'". BBC News. 30 January 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2015. 

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Kenneth Lomas
Member of Parliament for Huddersfield West
19791983
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Littleborough and Saddleworth
19831995
Succeeded by
Chris Davies