Tomorrow’s Mirror newspaper reports that a senior civil servant, Clifford Hindley, approved government grants of £70,000 to the Paedophile Information Exchange, a fringe group that promoted the legalisation of sex with children in the 1970s. Hindley was assistant secretary of state at the Home Office until 1983. His name, as the approver of the grant, was leaked to a Labour MP, Tom Watson.
Hindley, who is believed no longer to be alive, wrote widely-quoted essays on Britten’s operas for both Cambridge and Oxford university publications. The musicologist Ian Pace says that ‘some of Hindley’s writings on Britten show a strong interest in pederastic elements.’
Hindley is named by an investigative journalist as a friend of the composer’s. However, he does not appear in the index of any Britten biography or in the composer’s extensive published correspondence. The official’s association with a famous person must be treated with caution.