The national ‘Paedogate’ controversy involving MP Harriet Harman has its roots right here in Milton Keynes, where a former Open University employee founded and chaired the Paedophile information Exchange.
Tom O’Carroll was the OU press officer in the late 1970s when PIE was affiliated to the National Council of Civil Liberties where Ms Harman then worked.
The self-confessed ‘child lover’ who wanted the age of sexual consent dropped to four, even sat on the NCCL gay rights subcommittee and addressed members at a conference.
His arrest in 1981 for conspiring to corrupt public morals caused widespread red faces at the Open University, which promptly severed all connections with him.
But unrepentant O’Carroll, who lived in Newport Pagnell, threatened to take the OU to an industrial tribunal for wrongful dismissal, claiming they had violated his rights.
One former colleague recalls: “His arrest came as a real shock. Some people here knew about his activities with PIE but I don’t think in those days anybody fully understood what a paedophile was. It’s sounds crazy now but at that time we thought it was just another minority group that gathered left-wing support.
“Tom O’Carroll was a bit of a charmer. He was a handsome man and an eloquent talker. I can see how people may have been hooked in to support his cause.”
Ms Harman, then young and passionately militant, says the “vile” PIE had nothing to do with her work at NCCL, where former Labour Cabinet minister Patricia Hewitt also worked. All links were severed by the mid 1980s, she said,
But this week O’Carroll, now aged 65, claimed Ms Harman and Ms Hewitt “didn’t even try” to cut PIE’s affiliation because they were scared of “rocking the boat”.
He told BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “Really they didn’t do much to oppose PIE’s presence in my view because there were these other liveral forces, or radical forces, within NCCL.
“The support didn’t come from Harman and Co but it was there. The Gay Liberation Front was very radical and at that time Harman and Patricia Hewitt couldn’t just kick out PIE.
“Well, they could try but they didn’t even try... they didn’t want to rock the boat because their careers with NCCL depended on them not rocking the boat too much.”
O’Carroll served 16 months in prison in 1981 and was jailed again 15 years later for possession indecent images of children.
He continues to promote paedophilia and has written two books on the subject.