Harry Chapman Pincher

There are going to be an ample sufficiency of obituaries for the guy over the next few days: all the “heavies” have been anticipating his demise this long while — typically he kept them waiting for the copy.

I would remember him, probably unfairly, in one particular context.

My parents took the Beaverbrook Daily Express, and in North Norfolk I grew up with a morning ration of Rupert the Bear and Giles cartoons.


As the Bobster has it:

Ah, but I was so much older then,
I’m younger than that now.

Alas: I only learned that much older and later.

Howeversover …

I can now reconstruct precisely where I was and what I was doing around 10 a.m. on 15 March 1963

Mum and Dad had gone to work. I was the bone-idle university student struggling out of my pit. Around 10 a.m. I was yawning over my parent’s Express, and puzzling over the curious proximity of what ought to be two very different stories, presented side-by-side in parallel columns.

I wasn’t in the loop, like 50-odd million other Brits. Yet, clearly, I was being told something: what was the link between a Jamaican drug-dealer with a gun, and the  Secretary of State for War — oh, and why was this Miss Keeler involved? At this distance I do not recall if she got the customary bosom shot.

Nor do I not recall Chapman Pincher’s name on either story. I do know that I suddenly realised the Express, as edited by Robert Edwards and his acolytes, had the entrée to another, hidden world.  Thus I became addicted.

Pincher did get by-lined on many, many other stories. They were clearly inconsistent, but obviously had “connections”. Only later did we learn he was being fed by the likes of Peter “Skycatcher” Wright.

Even then it took a leap of intellect to recognise a very right-wing cadre was at work here. The chain was:

Ambitious MI5 second-tier operatives
➪  let’s do for the boss, Roger Hollis
➪ let’s get Harold Wilson
➪ channels though Tory MPs, such as Jonathan Aitken
➪ Pincher
➪ let’s screw the Labour Party, using what we know about (e.g.) Tom Driberg
➪ Airey Neave
➪ Margaret Thatcher.

Whatever Nixon’s plumbers did at the Watergate, it was prototyped by the likes of Wright who:

bugged and burgled our way across London at the State’s behest, while pompous bowler-hatted civil servants in Whitehall pretended to look the other way.

Some of what the buggers and burglars uncovered dropped into the lap of Chapman Pincher.

Perhaps posthumously other ordure may be dropped.


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Filed under Daily Express, Harold Wilson, sleaze., Tories.

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