Colin John Meredith Peters/John Meredith Colin Peters was born in Inverness, on 10 May 1943. He obviously had a privileged start in life having studied at Oxford and living in some very prestigious addresses over the years. Peters originally started out as a Foreign Office diplomat in 1966 and then a barrister, but now has the persona of an unassuming tax adviser. Despite that, Peters past is one of predatory behaviour and depravity, culminating in a jail sentence for his major part in a paedophile ring based in London’s West End. It is also claimed that he was a regular visitor to Elm Guest House in Barnes and he is mentioned within the Elm Guest House paperwork.
On 3 October 1967 it was reported that Peters and Laing had been arrested on charges of abusing two ten year old boys on a boat in Naples. No charges were ever brought against them. The Foreign Office assisted with legal advice.
In November 1988 the trial began at the Central Criminal Court with a number of men accused of heinous crimes against children. The ring was centered in London’s West End and included were:
- Colin Peters, 45, barrister, of Chepstow Road, Bayswater;
- Alan Delaney, 48, director, of Shirley Drive, Hounslow;
- Ernest Whittington,64, council estate orderly, of George Lansbury House, Harlesden;
- Patrick Norris, 19, unemployed, of Holly Close, Kilburn;
- Sean Norris, 18, (Patrick’s brother), unemployed of Holly Close, Kilburn; and
- Victor Burnett, 43, unemployed, North London.
The trial was the very first that allowed child victims of sexual crimes to give evidence via video screens so that they no longer had to face the accused in court. The children sat behind a screen in front of a video camera. Only the judge could see the child in person.
It was claimed in court that the Norris brothers had become procurers and abusers having originally been victims themselves. Many of the children were aged between 10-12 years. Some were absconders, having run away to London (it was reported that one was picked up within 10 minutes of arriving in London from Scotland), others were groomed by Delaney (who also ran a youth football team), and some were from a special needs school in the West Country. The boys were passed around the ring and some abused within the sauna at Peters house in Bayswater. The perpetrators were only caught when a BT engineer discovered a photograph album full of obscene images of abuse at Delaney’s mother’s house.
One of the victims stated in court that Peters and Burnett referred to themselves as ‘Mother Hens’ and to the boys as ‘chickens’ and Whittington was known as ‘the Chocolate Man’. At least 150 boys were interviewed in regards to the gang but the true figure was never fully known. Those abused lived with the effects – some had gone on to become prostitutes or abusers, and one boy was so psychologically damaged that he ended up in Broadmoor.
What is also interesting is that in one news report (see the article from 3 February 1989), it was stated that a vicar and a senior official at Buckingham Palace were questioned in connection to the case and police also claimed that they had only scratched the surface of the ring but the tentacles spread so far and wide that they simply couldn’t cover it all.
The trial lasted three months and the outcome was as follows:
- Colin Peters: 8 years imprisonment;
- Alan Delaney: 11 years imprisonment;
- Ernest Whittington: 6 years imprisonment;
- Victor Burnett: 9 years imprisonment (had 14 previous convictions).
The judge also made mention of Colin Peters’ lacing of children’s drinks and his attempts to dissuade some of the witnesses from giving evidence in court or to lie in order to assist his case.
Interestingly, some months after the trial had ended, the father of Patrick and Sean Norris – Patrick Norris – was jailed for 11 months after being found guilty of accepting a bribe to stop Colin Peters from being prosecuted for abusing his youngest son.
Peters now runs an accountancy business. Interestingly there is a glaring omission on his website:
Colin Peters has been advising on VAT since 1986, when he left the Solicitor’s Office of Customs and Excise, now HM Revenue & Customs, to go into private practice.
Alastair David Laing was born in 8 May 1944. Just like his cohort Peters, Laing became a diplomat for the Foreign Office in 1966.
On 3 October 1967 Peters and Laing were arrested on charges of abusing two ten year old boys in Naples. No charges were ever brought against them and the record is now held by the National Archives and, needless to say, is on extended closure until 2056 – more than long enough for them both to die and evade public scrutiny. Laing’s London address was given as Warwick Square, Pimlico.
In 1978 Laing co-wrote a book with Anthony Blunt, (he disgraced spy and another visitor to Elm Guest House, it is alleged) and Christopher Tadgell entitled Baroque and Rococo Architecture and Decoration. Blunt had been Laing’s tutor at the Courtauld Institute. Considering he was thrown out of Naples in 1967, I wonder whether his work ever sent him to view Italian art and architecture and if there was ever an issue with his re-entry back in to Italy?
In 1982/3, Laing was living at 144 Sinclair Road, W14. He would write wordy letters to The Times newspaper – such as one regarding the Dennis Nilson case. It then appears that he moved to Islington (Aberdeen Road, N5) some time between 1984 and 1988.
In 1986 Laing became a Curator of Pictures and Sculpture at the National Trust (he retired in 2013), and mixed with the upper echelons of society.
It was stated in court during the Operation Hedgerow trial that Burnett already had 14 previous convictions which I believe must relate to his previous convictions alongside Delaney for child sexual abuse from 1979-1980. (See articles below). In 2000, after serving two thirds of his nine year prison sentence, Burnett was hounded out of his flat on the Paulsgrove Estate in Portsmouth where he had lived for two years when locals discovered he had previous convictions after a News of the World expose. He had been working as a taxi driver. LINK
Delaney had previously been charged alongside Burnett on multiple counts of child abuse from 1979-1980. During the Operation Hedgerow trial Delaney was described as the “lieutenant” of the ring. After serving just half his sentence, he was tracked down to Portland in Dorset in 1996 where he had a regular stream of child visitors to his home. LINK
Whittington was known as the “chocolate man”. He worked for Brent Council.
THANKS TO: Troy (@snowfaked), Laserlight (@laserlight) and Martin Walkerdine (@mwalkerdine) on Twitter.