Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens’ file is supposed to name the paedophiles at the heart of the British establishment – but much the same was alleged by Noel Pemberton Billing in 1918.
Billing was a daring aviator and militarist, who edited his own newssheet, called The Imperialist. Hidden in a cabinet noir belonging to a Bavarian prince was a black book bearing the names of those being blackmailed by the German High Command. In The Imperialist, Billing alleged that in the black book ‘there are the names of 47,000 English men and women’, including ‘privy councillors, wives of cabinet ministers, even cabinet ministers… newspaper proprietors and members of His Majesty’s Household’, who practised ‘evils which all decent men thought had perished in Sodom and Lesbia’, including the ‘unnatural defloration of children’.
Billing’s campaign stepped up when he implied that the wife of former prime minister Herbert Asquith was an aggressive lesbian, and ‘in lesbian ecstasy the most sacred secrets of the state were threatened’. Next he accused Canadian actress Maud Allan, who played the lead in the stage version of Oscar Wilde’s Salome, of leading a ‘Cult of the Clitoris’. When Allan sued for libel, Billing won the case. Elected to parliament, Billing came under pressure to produce his evidence, only to admit that he had never seen the black book, which had only been described to him by the anti-Semite and conspiracy theorist Harold Sherwood Spencer.