In 1987 he stepped down as a Conservative MP when he was charged for gross indecency, having been caught in a tabloid sting that involved flagellation games with rent boys. At the time, the age of consent for male homosexual practices was twenty-one, and the evidence was clear that Proctor genuinely believed that his partners were not only consenting but of age. They weren't, though they were over sixteen, our current age of consent.
Many of those who might have supported him, as the victim of press intrusion and of an unjust law, were reluctant to do so, since his attitude to race and immigration had already alienated most of civilised society. And many of those who had previously supported him precisely because of that attitude - well, they were now alienated by the revelation of his sexual proclivities.
|Daily Mirror 21 May 1987|
In the statement, he quotes extensively from what he says is 'the police disclosure document given to my solicitors two days before my first interview with the police'. And when you read the allegations as bald statements, you can see Proctor's point: 'My situation has transformed from Kafka-esque bewilderment to black-farce incredulity.'
Because it is alleged that the circle of abusers included a (current or former) prime minister, home secretary, head of MI5, head of MI6 and chief of the general staff. These men would gather in private houses where they would rape, torture and kill young boys.
I wouldn't deny that there have been, and are, men who take sexual pleasure in the torturing to death of children, but they are vanishingly few in number, surely? For so many of them to have reached such senior positions in society simply defies belief. They didn't manage to do so in the Third Reich, but they did in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s? It's implausible that the holders of these posts were all homosexual, highly improbable that they were all paedophiles, and frankly impossible that they should all be homosexual, paedophile, sadistic murderers.
The only way of believing such a thing is to go the full distance and claim that the establishment is staffed by an alien species with an entirely different sexuality to that of human beings.
Yet even that wouldn't explain why this circle, if it did exist, would welcome the likes of Proctor. He himself admits that 'Edward Heath despised me', and adds: 'As an ex-secondary modern school boy from Yorkshire, I was not a part of the establishment.'
This is surely true. He was just about tolerated on the Tory backbenches in Margaret Thatcher's second term, but even there many regarded him as being an unpleasant oik. It's difficult to see such an impressive cast of grandees inviting Proctor into their homes in the first place, let alone encouraging him to join them in 'punching and kicking' a young boy to death.
The allegations are self-evidently absurd. And they run the risk of making all enquiries into old cases of paedophile abuse seem absurd by association.
There certainly were paedophiles in the upper ranks of the establishment. I wrote about the case of Sir Peter Hayman, for example, last year. And certainly things were covered up. But however appalling we find paedophilia, it is still in a different class of behaviour to child-killing. And however shocking we find it that action was not taken, averting one's gaze is in a different class of behaviour to participating in a murderous orgy.
The police, it is said, have a duty to investigate complaints, and obviously this is a sensitive area and a difficult time. Even so, this sort of nonsense surely shouldn't take too long to dismiss. Instead Proctor has had the allegations hanging over him for months, allegations that he personally murdered two children, and connived at the killing of a third. He has twice been interviewed at length over the claims.
It's not easy to feel sorry for Harvey Proctor, but for once in his life he deserves sympathy.
Postscript: I posted this just as Newsnight started, which included an interview with Harvey Proctor. There is perhaps one thing that should be added. He was asked by Evan Davis why he thought his name had been mentioned in the allegations, and he replied that perhaps it was because he was homosexual and had once pleaded guilty to indecency charges, albeit for offences that are no longer offences.
Well, yes, but there is the nature of the offences as well. He admitted paying teenage prostitutes, less than half his age, so that he could beat them. If I were concocting a story of sadistic pederasts in 1980s Westminster, his name might well come to my mind.
It's still nonsense, of course. Even more so. If he had access to twelve-year-olds who he could rape and murder to his heart's content, why was he still playing Trivial Pursuit with nineteen-year-olds and spanking them when they got the answers wrong? That's a different psychology entirely.
But it's worth bearing the facts in mind when he protests that the police are pursuing a 'homosexual witch hunt'. Because that's a daft claim as well.