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OPERATION CLARENCE: Peter Righton, 1992



High Level Connections

In September 1992, Customs Officers along with detectives from West Mercia Police at Evesham, raided a house after intercepting a parcel from the Netherlands which contained child pornography material.  That same day, a detective who had been part of the raid telephoned Michael Hames of the Metropolitan Police with concerns about the owner of the house whom he believed was someone of influence.  That man was Peter Righton.



Peter Righton ponography

Righton (also known as Paul Pelham) was Director of Education at the National Institute of Social Work – an influential figure among many whom dealt directly with children.  He was also chairman of governors at New Barns School in Gloucester – whose headmaster was his long-term partner, Richard Alston.




Alston first met Righton when he was just 16 years old and Righton was 35.  They remained together until Righton’s death in 2007.  Alston worked at the Cavendish School for Maladjusted Boys, Greenford in 1970s and he was subsequently jailed in 2015 for abuse of a pupil. (See Reference section, below).


Hames spoke with Lord Laming (Chief Inspector of the Social Services Inspectorate) who told of the concerns and anxieties of both himself and government ministers to get to the truth and that a full investigation must begin.  The police joined forces with the Social Services team in Hereford & Worcester.

Peter Righton was a founder member of the Paedophile Information Exchange – a group advocating sex with children.  The chairman of the group (Stephen Smith) worked for the Home Office. Righton had contributed to a book entitled ‘Perspectives on Paedophilia‘, published in 1981.  He had worked in children’s homes in Maidstone, Kent and Islington where Liz Davies stated Righton had been allowed to live on the Thornham Magna Estate – home of Lord Henniker and where the Islington Suffolk Project took vulnerable children from care homes on holidays. Despite Henniker being alerted by police about Righton’s activities, it fell on deaf ears. Righton was also a lecturer in child protection.

Righton pleaded guilty to posession of indecent photographs and was fined.

Hames and his team delved further in to Righton and discovered that in 1981 he had written to the Department of Education (DoE) and used his influence to get another PIE member removed from List 99 (the list of banned teachers).  That man was Charles Napier.



Charles Napier comes from a very well-to-do family and is half-brother of Conservative MP, John Whittingdale.  He lived in Thames Ditton and in 1972, was convicted of indecency with schoolboys.  He was sentenced to three years probation on the condition that he underwent psychiatric therapy for one year.


In 1981 – on National Institute for Social Work headed paper – Righton wrote a letter to DoE:

In my view, Mr Napier is a gifted teacher of both adults and children.  I believe that, during the years since his conviction, he has acquired a knowledge and disciplined mastery of himself which would justify the conclusion that he no longer constitutes a sexual risk to children in his charge.  It would give me great pleasure – and cause me no anxiety – to hear that the Secretary of State had reviewed his decision of 24 November 1972, in Mr Napier’s favour.

In July 1981, Napier’s ban was revoked in so far as further education establishments*.  He was told that he could make a further application for full reinstatement in 1984.  In 1990, Napier applied once again, but this time he requested a report on his condition from a consultant psychiatrist at University College Hospital.  That consultant was Dr Morris Fraser.

*I have information that suggests Napier may have been connected (governor or other position) to Richmond College in the early 1980s.  If anyone could confirm if this is or is not true, I’d be grateful.



Fraser was a psychiatrist from Belfast in Northern Ireland and also a convicted predatory paedophile.  Despite that, he was allowed to continue practicing unhindered.  He, too, had contributed to the book ‘Perspectives on Paeophilia‘ in 1981, had appeared in court in America and prosecuted in the UK in 1992 for possession of indecent photographs of children, when he was finally struck off.  Fraser was also connected to the Belfast Royal Hospital and a frequent visitor to the notorious Kincora Boy’s Home – the home where security services and high level personnel used vulnerable children for their own enjoyment.


It was through this initial investigation in to Righton that an intelligence-led investigation – Operation Clarence – was borne.  Op Clarence targeted schoolmasters and people in education, where it was quickly discovered that Righton had links with other offenders.  One of those was a man called David Bloomfield.


Bloomfield was CEO of a charity called The Standing Conference on Schools, Science and Technology and his flat in South London was raided by the team, who uncovered child pornography.  In the kitchen they also discovered a letter from none other than Charles Napier who was, by this point, employed by the British Council and was posted in Cairo and working as a teacher.  His letter boasted of his abuse of the boys in his school and how he enjoyed the freedom away from the restrictions of the British justice system.  The British Council was alerted and Napier was immediately suspended and upon return to the UK he was charged and subsequently jailed for 18 months.  He had also been working in Sweden.  Bloomfield was fined for possession of child pornography and sacked.  He emigrated to Portugal.


The branch of the inquiry in Hereford & Worcester ended in 1994 with the dismal injustice of Righton being cautioned for indecent assault of a boy 30 years previous.

However, what Operation Clarence did do was uncover a huge web of offenders and networks and learnt about how they interacted and organised themselves as well as collate a lot of intelligence.  Hames recommended that an inquiry be set up to investigate allegations against care staff but the Home Office left the recommendation on file.  He also called for the creation of a national paedophile register which finally came to fruition in 1997.

Those mentioned were finally ‘outed’ following an investigation in to historical child abuse, code-named Operation Cayacos.


Excerpt from article by Tom Watson, 2-14

I’ve already documented my reasons for asking the Prime Minister about an historic case of child abuse in October 2012.

Since then, there have been numerous arrests and people are facing charges, so I have to be careful what I write.

But I can say there have been some shocking claims made, many of which police are investigating.

The source of my original question is a retired child protection officer who was working with the Met police on a major child abuse inquiry in the 1990s. Their inquiries began to focus on a theory that an MP was involved with a group of known child abusers. At this point, the investigation was, according to my source, shut down after “orders from on high.”

Others were given the courage to contact me after the press picked up my parliamentary question and police launched an investigation into the alleged crimes.

The former civil servant who told me how he raised concerns that taxpayers may have been asked to fund the Paedophile Information Exchange has co-operated with the police but we await the results of the internal inquiry at the Home Office, set up last November.

The official also shared an interesting anecdote. The civil servant at the Home Office in charge of the budget that may have funded PIE was called to a crisis meeting at the Reform Club on the day the scandal involving Jeremy Thorpe broke in the newspapers.

In an interview at the time, Cyril Smith showed how he had some decision over the fate of his leader saying “Mr Thorpe had advised me that if I went to him and said that in my view he should resign then he would resign. I’ve not been to him and said that and I have no intention of going to him and saying that and so Mr Thorpe has not offered his resignation.”

Thorpe did eventually resign and was replaced by David Steel in July 1976, who made Smith the party’s Social Services spokesman, despite their relationship according to Smith being “not frigid but not at a high temperature”.

Even accounting for the times, Smith’s approach to his brief was distinctly illiberal. In a letter of complaint to the editor of Social Work Today in May 1977 he said “You describe myself as a ‘political buffoon’. All this is apparently because…in my view on occasions a juvenile offender was a case for a good hiding rather than a child psychiatrist”

Then there’s the matter of child abuser Peter Righton. I’m working with a number of courageous and dedicated former child protection workers who are concerned that Righton, after his conviction, retired to a cottage on the estate of Lord Henniker.

Henniker continued to allow his estate to be used by the Islington Suffolk project that gave holidays to vulnerable children from Islington. Many of the children were in the care system at a time when Islington was thought to have had a major problem with child abuse in its care homes. The retired social workers tell me that even despite the Chief Constable of Suffolk visiting personally to warn Henniker that Righton was a career paedophile, and would put the dozens of young boys who visited Thornham Magna at risk, he ignored this advice and Righton lived there until his death in 2008



13 thoughts on “OPERATION CLARENCE: Peter Righton, 1992

  1. There does seem to be a pattern of convicted/ disgraced individuals seeing out their time on the estates of peers of the realm.

    I wonder why?


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