The editor of Private Eye has welcomed with “grim satisfaction” the conviction of a former police chief for child sex abuse, more than two decades after he won a libel case against the magazine.
Former superintendent Gordon Anglesea, 79, was convicted on Friday of four counts of indecent assault and cleared of one count of buggery between 1982 and 1987, against two boys, both aged 14 or 15 at the time, following a six-week trial at Mold Crown Court, North Wales.
Long-serving Private Eye editor Ian Hislop said justice had been done but that he would not seek to have its £80,000 share of the damages repaid.
He added that one of the satirical magazine’s witnesses had taken his own life as a result of “not being believed”.
Suspicions were raised against Anglesea as early as 1991, when he was named as a regular visitor to children’s homes, who had resigned suddenly and without explanation from his police job as questions about abuse in homes were growing.
But in 1994 Anglesea won damages totalling £375,000 in a joint defamation action against the Independent on Sunday, The Observer, HTV and Private Eye, which were ordered to pay his sizeable legal costs.
At the time, Mr Hislop said he was disappointed but added: “I was happy that we got out of it as cheaply as we could.”
In a statement on Friday, Mr Hislop said: “Twenty two years ago Gordon Anglesea won a libel action against Private Eye and others for claiming that he had been involved in the sexual abuse of boys within the North Wales care system in the 1980s.
“During the libel trial Anglesea said that he had never assaulted any teenage boys. We now know that this was a lie, that he was indeed a paedophile, that in truth he had no reputation to defend and that he should never have sued anyone on this basis.
“I take a certain grim satisfaction in this verdict today and in the fact that justice has eventually been done. But it is a miserable story and it was one of the darkest periods of my editorship.
“I can’t help thinking of the witnesses who came forward to assist our case at the time, one of whom later committed suicide telling his wife that he never got over ‘not being believed’.
“Private Eye will not be looking to get our money back from the libel damages. Others have paid a far higher price.”
A spokesman for ITV Cymru Wales said: “We have no comment on Gordon Anglesea’s libel action brought in the early 1990s against HTV, the Channel 3 licence holder at the time.
“ITV Cymru Wales is currently preparing a programme on the Anglesea case.”
Picture: Reuters/Olivia Harris