New Lord Mountbatten Biography Fuels “VIP Abuse” Claims

Sunday Times puff-piece ignores “Kincora” allegations in book; preview copy was provided to Carl Beech promoter Mark Watts

From the Sunday Mirror:

Lord Mountbatten’s ‘lust for young boys’ exposed in FBI files

The decorated war hero was under US surveillance for more than three decades

Lord Mountbatten was “a homosexual with a perversion for young boys”, according to newly released FBI files.

…In Mr [Andrew] Lownie’s book, Ron Perks, who was the Earl’s driver in Malta in 1948, breaks his silence to claim one of his favourite places was the Red House near Rabat, “an upmarket gay brothel used by naval officers”.

And Anthony Daly, a rent boy to the rich and famous in the 1970s, claims he was told “Mountbatten had something of a fetish for uniforms — handsome young men in ­military uniforms and beautiful boys in school uniform”.

The article is a derivative piece based on a longer account of the book by the Sunday Timess media and entertainment editor Grant Tucker (also syndicated under a different headline to the Australian). Alongside the details rehashed by the Sunday Mirror, Tucker also refers to “an interview with a man who was Mountbatten’s lover throughout the 1970s, an unnamed neighbour then in his 20s.” Note that the man’s status as “lover” is presented by Tucker here as if this were an established fact rather than a claim

The plain meaning of the Sunday Mirror headline and opener, and of others like it, is that the FBI was watching Mountbatten’s movements, and had discovered that he was a child sex offender. However, as the story in due course makes clear, the quote in fact merely refers to a piece of aristocratic gossip that the FBI had picked up:

…one file references a 1944 interview with Elizabeth de la Poer Beresford, Baroness Decies.

The memo says: “She states that in these circles Lord Louis Mountbatten and his wife are considered persons of extremely low morals.

“She stated Lord Louis Mountbatten was known to be a homosexual with a perversion for young boys. In Lady Decies’ opinion he is an unfit man to direct any sort of military operations because of this condition. She stated further his wife was considered equally erratic.”

“Young boys” in this context is unlikely to mean “children”, and the Sunday Times chose to allay this impression by amending the quote in its headline to “young men”. But the larger point is that this is not something that the FBI had verified – it was just a bit of hearsay it had noted down. One other derivative article, in Malta Today, adds further confusion with a headline stating that the “Red House” detail comes from the FBI rather than from Perks (Lownie is so careless as to have amplified this headline on Twitter without correcting it).

In fact, the FBI note (and another like it) is nothing new – Mountbatten was dogged by rumours of homosexuality his whole adult life, fuelled by his naval career, his friendships with gay men such as Peter Murphy and Noël Coward, and the fact that his wife had numerous affairs. (1)

There is something irritating about an article that relies on a book without properly explaining the basis of its claims. How did the man who claims to have been Mountbatten’s lover in the 1970s substantiate his account? Why does Perks believe that the “Red House” was a gay brothel, and is there any supportive evidence? Was it just a gay brothel, or did it also have other functions?

The alleged hearsay gossip of Tom Driberg via Anthony Daly is an odd inclusion – Daly is the author of an alleged “VIP abuse” memoir originally titled Playland and now reissued as The Abuse of Power, and Tucker’s write-up describes him as someone “who had a close relationship with Driberg”. However, from what I can find in the book itself (which lacks an index), there is just one account of a meeting with Driberg, at Driberg’s flat in the Barbican.

According to Daly, Driberg quickly began boasting about his youthful association with Aleister Crowley, even though this was afterwards a source of embarrassment to him (2). There’s no apparent reference to Mountbatten, in which case it is fortunate that Daly has just happened to remember an extra quote which now means his name is back in the media. Lownie’s confidence in Daly is also expressed in a cover blurb he provided for the second edition of Daly’s book (“A brave, honest and shocking memoir which deserves to be widely read by those in authority” – visible on Amazon but not present on the Google Books image) (3).

[UPDATE: on Twitter, Bandini notes that Daly was asked in 2015 whether he had seen “definite evidence” that Mountbatten was “a paedo/who killed Dando”. The implication is that the television presenter Jill Dando had been murdered because she had discovered something about Mountbatten 20 years after his death. Daly replied with the statement “Speculation and inference – no evidence as such”, then adding that this was “The answer was in relation to a Q re Mountbatten and Dando”. Given the outlandish nature of the proposition, one wonders what “inference” Daly had in mind, and why, on the more general point, he didn’t refer to Driberg at that time.]

However, even more extraordinary is that the book apparently delves into claims that Mountbatten was involved in organised child abuse involving boys trafficked from the Kincora children’s home in Northern Ireland. This sensational angle is covered by Joseph de Burca in a left-wing conspiracy magazine and website called the The Village, and he complains that British articles have ignored this aspect of the work. Lownie has endorsed the Village article, commending it as “one of the only magazines which has bravely trodden where other papers will not go”. The question of course is why other papers “will not go” there – lack of “bravery”, or recognition that credulity would the strained by a full account of Lownie’s claims? Either way, Grant Tucker has some explaining to do.

According to the Village summary, Lownie’s book features the testimony of several individuals who say they were taken as boys to Mountbatten for sexual abuse. The article also refers to Richard Kerr, although it’s not clear whether he features in Lownie’s book. The difficulty here is that Kerr’s claims cannot be relied upon – for example, it turns out that he was on remand in prison in Northern Ireland at a time he says he was trafficked to London to be abused by VIPs. Kerr withdrew from the Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse in Northern Ireland rather than account for difficulties such as these. The Village has since run several articles based on Kerr without acknowledging these problems, including one I discussed here after Kerr added Enoch Powell to his roster of perpetrators.

How did Lownie come into contact with these accusers? Perhaps the former Exaro journalist Mark Watts had something to do with it: Lownie provided Watts with an advance copy of his book, and Watts now writes that “In 2015, Exaro named Lord Mountbatten, Prince Charles’s great-uncle and mentor, as being one of several establishment figures who helped to cover up a paedophile network of VIPs linked to Kincora boys’ home,” adding that “At the same time, Exaro also reported that Lord Mountbatten mixed with paedophiles who went to parties in the Republic of Ireland, and that he visited Kincora, although exactly why was unclear”.

The Exaro article can be seen here – the claim about the Republic of Ireland is attributed to “an intelligence source”, while the rest of it is based on Kerr, whose name Watts now avoids mentioning. Watts also writes that “there is more to come out about Dickie Mountbatten’s alleged appetite for young cadets, ratings and servicemen, either side of today’s age of consent – and on how it was covered up”. This particular Tweet has been RTed by Lownie, who appears to retain confidence in Watts despite Watts’s central role in the Carl Beech fiasco. (4)

The end of Tucker’s article quotes Lownie as saying “I am a serious historian rather than a tabloid journalist but in a full biography I had to deal with many of the allegations which have repeatedly been raised.”


1. Tucker notes that Mountbatten’s official biographer was dismissive of the rumours, although for some reason he fails to name him or to set out his reasoning. The biographer of course was the eminent historian Philip Ziegler, whose Mountbatten appeared in 1985, six years after Mountbatten’s assassination by the IRA. He writes on pages 52-53:

When he first met Peter Murphy and might have fallen victim to his charms, he was besottedly in love with a series of girls… for the first few years of his married life Mountbatten was preoccupied with his wife. All his naval contemporaries who have expressed an opinion on the subject – and some worked very close to him – state emphatically that they do not believe the stories to be true.

…Observing Mounbatten [when elderly] with his hand on the arm of an attractive young man, the less charitable observer leapt to an agreeably scandalous conclusion. The fact that the arm would more often belong to an attractive young woman was neither here nor there.

…In 1975 the Daily Mirror published article about a homosexual ring centredon the Life Guards’ barracks in London. Mountbatten was told that his name had been mentioned in this connection. “I refused to take this seriously,” he recorded in his diary, “and I said I might have been accused of many things in my life but hardly the act of homosexuality.”

Why would a man who was homosexual or even bisexual write such a thing in his diary?

The subject is also discussed in the more recent Mountbatten: The Private Story (2008), by Brian Hoey. A crudely written review of the book published in the Pakistan Daily Times claims that it exposes Mountbatten as voraciously bisexual, but this doesn’t seem to be supported by a browse of the text itself, in which gay interview subjects who knew Mountbatten state that he wasn’t of their persuasion, although he was tolerant and regarded it as none of his business.

2. The scholar Marco Pasi notes that Crowley’s biographer John Symonds waited until after Driberg’s death before adding a chapter about Driberg’s relationship with Crowley. This seems unduly cautious if Driberg was happy to blab about it to anyone who happened to call.

3. In May 2018, Private Eye magazine (1469, p. 35) ran a review of Playland under the heading “Fantasy Fiction”; the piece did not attempt to debunk Daly’s story, but implied in a sceptical tone that Mirror Books (associated with the newspaper group) had published an unlikely and unsubstantiated story. Daly – who says he was inspired to speak out after reading Anthony Gilberthorpe’s claims (discussed here) – Tweeted that he had offered to show evidence to Eye editor Ian Hislop but had been ignored.

4. Watts is of the view that Beech’s trial was “unsafe”, and as such he has not felt the need to engage with the overwhelming evidence of Beech’s guilt (and in a good example of projection, he accuses the media of “avoiding” the issue), or to apologise for the aspersions he cast on sceptical journalists and the victims of Beech’s malicious falsehoods.

Watts argues that the court did not have insight into how the effects of abuse might influence the nature of disclosure, which appears to imply that Beech’s lies, fabrication of evidence and use of email to create fake collaborative witnesses does not discredit him. Watts explained this in a recent audio interview with the fringe conspiracy theorist Tony Gosling.

15 Responses

  1. As the author of The Abuse of Power (formerly Playland), I would like to respond to the inaccurate claims and unfounded conclusions you have made about me and the memoir I wrote. I trust your readers will apply the same degree of critical scrutiny to your claims and assertions, as you direct at others.
    The points you make might merit some serious consideration if your analysis of my book was objective, balanced and more importantly, accurate. Perhaps a brief but dismissive catch-all statement like, “why should anyone believe the word of a whore?” might have sufficed. But then I might simply have responded with “unlike you I was actually there.”

    That said; let’s address some of your concerns. In relation to Driberg you feel my contribution to the Lownie book “is an odd inclusion.” Perhaps the fact that I am one of the few people still alive who spent time in Driberg’s company, and that he in turn had spent considerable time with Mountbatten, prompted Lownie to contact me when Playland was brought to his attention. It was not of course practical for me to write about every moment of every day I spent in London, but after I left Foyles bookshop in mid April 1975, I visited Driberg socially but not sexually, on a couple of mornings a week. We discussed all manner of things. What can I say…I liked the man.

    You go on to say, “According to Daly, Driberg quickly began boasting about his youthful association with Aleister Crowley.” If you actually read the book, you would know this statement is untrue. Over the course of a long afternoon and into early evening we discussed many things, beginning with our mutual associates. He then told me about his life in general before moving to his sexual exploits. We then discussed the Northern Ireland Troubles at length. It was only when I told him about my interest in the occult since the age of 13 that he mentioned Crowley and the books he had been given; all no doubt to impress to the point of seduction, an impressionable young man.

    You claim that, “There’s no apparent reference to Mountbatten, in which case it is fortunate that Daly has just happened to remember an extra quote which now means his name is back in the media.” This is also untrue. On page 255 of Playland I give an account of Driberg’s travels with Mountbatten from Ceylon to Singapore. During these travels Driberg claimed to have had sex with someone in the back seat of Mountbatten’s car. He also claimed to have had sex with a Burmese boy (by which I assume he meant a young man – Driberg was not a paedophile), after his arrival Ceylon in Mountbatten’s private Dakota aeroplane, which had been sent to pick him up. I could score an easy point by saying that you deliberately lied about Mountbatten not being mentioned in the book, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and suggest you did not read the book carefully, if at all.

    The reference to Mountbatten in the book makes your comment about my “extra quote” in order to seek media attention, somewhat redundant. Further on this point, I had no idea I would be named in newspaper reports about Lownie’s book.

    During my time in London, Mountbatten’s name came up a few times, but I decided one mention of him would suffice for my purposes. When interviewed by Lownie, I provided him with other details provided by Driberg and others.

    Regarding a Tweet about Mountbatten in 2015, I stand by the couple of words I offered in response to a specific question.

    In relation to what was supposed to pass as a book review of Playland by Private Eye in 2018, this confusingly written piece was as biased as yours. The book is dismissed as “Fantasy Fiction.” I beg to differ. From my perspective, the ground-breaking research I carried out here and in the USA, reveals for the first time, the police surveillance operation on the Playland Amusement Arcade from which a rent boy racket was being operated. I also reveal for the first time, the extent to which an American syndicate headed up by the multi-millionaire Martin Bromley, controlled most of the arcades in London. I also demonstrate how the Playland trial was stacked in favour of the defendants. The book goes on to offer a social history of the rent boy scene in Piccadilly Circus, and it even tells a love story or two.

    More controversially I suppose, I reveal my associations with various clients from the world of finance, bookselling, publishing, the arts and horror of horror – some politicians. I suspect this is where some commentators have a problem. Surely it could not be the case that such people of prominence would associate with a 20 year old rent boy, and an Irish one at that! But I have yet to be told which particular encounters and with whom, they deem to be fictional. Some of them? All of them?

    You are correct in stating that I offered Ian Hislop the opportunity to have an objective third party assess various documents, photographs and other items in my possession which support my account. He declined. Perhaps Andrew Lownie, has viewed the material and it was on this basis that he endorsed my book.

    And by the way, I was asked to provide a sworn written statement to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, and this was formally adduced into evidence. For the record, my statement included the following:

    It is of course for the inquiry to investigate if a Westminster paedophile ring existed. I have to say that my experience was not of a Westminster paedophile ring as such (the term may actually be a distraction); but primarily of a network of businessmen who worked in retail, banking, insurance and politics; a network in which all manner of business and enterprise favours were bartered and exchanged. One such favour, for those so inclined, was the availability of rent boys, some of whom were procured from Playland.

    IICSA appear to have more faith in me than Private Eye, or indeed yourself.

    To conclude we have two perspectives on The Abuse of Power. On the one hand we have an anonymous hack who says the book is fantasy fiction and on the other hand, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, bestselling prize winning author and historian, who says the book is, “A brave, honest and shocking memoir which deserves to be read by those in authority.” I would invite your readers to read the book for themselves and make up their own minds.

    Anthony Daly

    N.B. As a general rule of thumb, I block people on Twitter who are followers or have followers of followers, of those lobbying for the beatification of Jimmy Savile and such like.

    • Just because you were permitted to give a statement to IICSA does not give automatic credibilty.

      Speaking of which, whilst very careful only to name the dead, one living name did slip through the net courtesy of IICSA, didn’t it.

      I believe you said you didn’t wish to reveal the name of this man to spare him embarassment, or some such nonsense. I doubt you gave two hoots about that, and the real reason was because he was the only one you have accused who is still alive and in a position to sue you.

      Has he been in touch yet, by the way?.

    • Thank you for your response. On two points: (a) “why should anyone believe the word of a whore?” – I have never suggested, or considered, that someone should be considered less trustworthy because they have worked in the sex industry; (b) ” you did not read the book carefully, if at all” – that was why I made a point of noting that the book does not have an index, as I may have missed such a reference while browsing through it. It is a shame that Mirror Books did not pay for an index, especially as there is no online preview function.

    • Mr Daly may be suffering a delusion, that no one has seen this game of his before. He would be wrong about that. It doesn’t matter how much he researched various historic persons prior to writing his book…any knowledge he might have about them in no way proves he knew them or even met them. The only thing that can prove his association with those persons would be – direct reference to DALY, in something that person had written or said. And his naive attempts to generate more “proof” for his false adult sex slave narrative only dig the grave deeper.

      “Perhaps the fact that I am one of the few people still alive who spent time in Driberg’s company…” and he has totally buried himself, with this. Tom Driberg had a long association with Private Eye, many people who worked there knew him well! We shall see, if any of those persons recalls Tom Driberg mentioning an Anthony or Tony Daly from 1975, an engaging young Irish sex slave or rent boy he met in London.

      Daly’s attempts to rip-off a Playland-Piccadilly rent boy identity, from those who actually lived that, and dress himself in it are so OUTRAGEOUS and OFFENSIVE! Even inventing false rent boy “street” lingo, it makes me sick! He must imagine that none of the real ones are still alive, or that no one who knew one is still living. He’s wrong again. Just as, some paranoid conspiracy theorists imagine that none of us whose CSA images were published commercially are still living – so its ok to claim we were all horribly murdered in imaginary “child snuff” films. Well, we are not dead, let me assure you.

      Mr Daly’s book is not about the reality of Playland in 1970’s, its not about the rent boy kids, and its not about CSA. He doesn’t genuinely care about any of that. Daly’s book is about HIM, his ego, and his lust to portray himself as and be known as, the #1 most important “VIP pedophile whistleblower” in the UK, a heroic figure bravely revealing all the supposed secrets that so many governments, intelligence agencies, corrupt police-justice officials have worked so hard to conceal.
      But its all a lie.

  2. Back to the subject. The false Kincora trafficking victim claimants, the supposed Malta gay brothel, an alleged lover, none of those things are of any relevance to this: “She stated Lord Louis Mountbatten was known to be a homosexual with a perversion for young boys” alleged statement to FBI in 1948 – because they would all have happened after that date.
    The question is…what would have or could have inspired such rumors about Mountbatten, prior to 1948?

  3. Well that’s one of those strange coincidence things… I’ll have to check my family members’ memoirs about any contact with Driberg following the above as that family member was also part of Mountbatten’s staff in Ceylon and Singapore. I do distinctly remember the mention of a Dakota…

    Also “anon” is correct above. Giving testimony in writing to the IICSA does not prove any credibility whatsoever, look at Don Hale’s bullshit for example. That was ripped apart at the IICSA with him on the witness stand, and afterwards too.

    The problem with people like Daly and Kerr is that because of their claims they’ve been put on platforms where they think they can now say anything about anyone – providing the anyone is dead of course. Whilst there were no doubt SOME VIPs who were acting illegally, that does not mean that every rumour or piece of gossip about others was true or false. But there should be more caution from historians like Lownie on trusting the word of people who only have a third party connection like Daly had to Mountbatten because of the issues of things like “chinese whispers” and embellishment in order to get into the “papers” or a book or tv.

  4. Anyone, absolutely anyone can give “evidence” to inquiries like IICSA and those who scream it from the rooftops generally do so for good reason such as, perhaps selling their latest fictionally book. At the recent Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Child Abuse the weird Fiona Barnett gave a written submission in which she claimed she had been abused by virtually every living and dead former Prime Minister, that US president Richard Nixon had flown in Airforce One to Canberra just to abuse her one Saturday afternoon (unnoticed by the huge diplomatic corp – especially the Russians -that live fairly near the airport there) and that she was regularly transported from Sydney to the secret US base Pine Gap some 2800 Kms via a secret tunnel that must have been an engineering miracle built in the 1970s completely unnoticed by anyone. Why though is a mystery when Pine Gap is serviced by jets on a daily basis and the flight is about 3 hours as opposed to a secret tunnel journey of about 3 days non-stop.
    One can imagine the Commissioners found it a amusing reading around the water cooler before going back to the real stuff. But it’s insulting to the very serious work being done and the genuine victims of child abuse when one concocts this stuff in order to flog a book.
    The fact is: not a single alleged “victim” of Lord Mountbatten has ever come forward even after the legalization of gay sex and if one had existed you can be sure they would have been featured in the News of The World decades ago.

    • “unnoticed by the huge diplomatic corp – especially the Russians -that live fairly near the airport there) ”

      Don’t be so naive! They were in on it too.

    • “the legalization of gay sex”

      At least you didn’t say “the legalization of homosexuality” as all the media were incessantly “reporting” on the anniversary of the legalisation of sodomy.

      How can it be the “the legalization of gay sex” when 50% of gays can’t and don’t indulge in it while 100% of straight couples can and often do.

      And especially when during at least one period the punishment for “gay sex” was more severe for straight couples!

      As for the BBC’s and Channel 4’s incessant insistence on “reporting” that homosexuality was illegal just over 50 years ago, was this selecting soft furnishings, flower arranging, holding hands, or just the thought crime?!

  5. One of Fiona Barnett’s items of “evidence” makes reference to a UK based “survivor” called… Carl…

  6. I find this intervention by the Barry brothers rather curious. They recall visiting and working in the property as kids or young adults and state that only his grandkids were in the house, but of course that does not prove that he was not a child abuser, as there are many proven cases of child abusers leaving their own kids and grandkids alone but abusing kids outside of their family. Additionally, it could be argued that one of the brothers has a vested interest, as he subsequently went to work for Mountbatten in England.

    I also do not put much credit on Mr Barry’s assertion that if something untoward was going on, the guards would have done something about it, as it is well known and testified to some of the guards were very corrupt and/or unduly deferential to authority and in several known cases, facilitated child abuse, by, for example, bringing kids who escaped from ‘care’ homes where they were being abused back they were being abused.

    Additionally, we know not everyone under 18 in Mountbatten’s circle were grandkids or in any way related, given that two of the people assassinated on his boat in 1973 were children unrelated to the Mountbatten family. So we can at the very least state as a fact that Mountbatten had associations with children other than his grandkids, contrary to the recollection of the Barry brothers.

    FBI files on Mountbatten go back to the 1930s.

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