My longest meeting with Harvey Proctor was on the last Friday in March 1982. For reasons to do with one of my dissertations, I had withdrawn to my bed in the late afternoon. At 6pm, one of the porters knocked on my door. I opened it in my pyjamas and stood blinking at him and Harvey Proctor MP.
I should explain that Mr Proctor and I both attended York University, though at different times, and that he was always most generous with his time when it came to invitations from the University of York Conservative Association. On this occasion, the Social Secretary had invited him and neglected either to tell anyone else on the committee, or to remember it herself. Mr Proctor arrived, with a speech prepared and in anticipation of a long and jolly dinner afterwards, and I was the only committee member who hadn’t gone off on a pub crawl. This was before our modern age of mobile telephones. Mr Proctor had travelled all the way from London, and had no chance to give his speech.
Embarrassing – but taken with very good humour. What I most vividly remember of the rest of the evening was that Mr Proctor was wearing the same perfume as our Social Secretary, and could do a passable impersonation – perhaps not entirely deliberate – of Larry Grayson.
I can’t say that I knew him well. He was always on the authoritarian wing of the Party, and I was not. But I liked him, and, after university, would sometimes go and see him give a speech in the East End of London. I was sorry to read about his troubles with the law, and believed that a distinguished career had been unfairly cut short.
I turn to the current allegations against him – paedophile rape and murder, and membership of a semi-satanic cult that included Edward Heath. Though, as said, I never knew him well, I find it impossible to believe a word of these allegations. Mr Proctor had – and possibly still has – a taste for rent boys over the age of sixteen, and for flagellation. These relationships have always been consensual. But, while I knew, in the 1980s, of the allegations lately confirmed against Leon Brittan and Peter Morrison and Edward Heath et al, I never heard so much as a whisper that Mr Proctor was engaged in any non-consensual activity. Again, though I never knew him well, what I did know of him never suggested the faintest suspicion of the present lurid claims.
I have nothing to tell the police in Mr Proctor’s support. But, for what little it may be worth, I will express my firm conviction that the claims against him are false and malicious, and that the officers concerned should be disciplined for a shocking abuse of power. I wish him well, and commend the courage he has shown.
For the record, I also doubt the more shocking allegations made against Edward Heath and Leon Brittan. It is now a rebuttable presumption that every Member of Parliament has a taste for bribes or prostitutes or both. But I shall need better evidence than I have yet seen to believe that any of them has a taste for sacrificial murder. After a month in Slovakia, I came back here last night to a strong feeling that I had been recommitted to a vast open-air lunatic asylum.