Healy was not ‘framed’: he was a serial sexual and emotional abuser

The Walkley Magazine, a bi-monthly for Australian journalists, has in its May 2012 edition published my letter challenging the claim that the late Gerry Healy was “framed in a sex scandal”. Until 1985, Healy was the leader of the Workers Revolutionary Party – which published the News Line, a socialist newspaper on which I worked in the 1970s and 1980s.

The subject has come up again following the publication of the memoirs of Alex Mitchell, the disreputable liar who edited the News Line and supported Healy when others sought to expose his abuse of women. Here is my letter:

Dear editor,

Alex Mitchell’s tenure as editor of News Line, newspaper of the Workers Revolutionary Party in the UK, ended in “the WRP’s leader, Gerry Healy, being framed in a sex scandal”, Laurie Oakes writes in his recent review of Mitchell’s memoirs. This is incorrect.

Healy was not “framed”. From this, readers might assume e.g. that Healy’s political enemies contrived to have him photographed in compromising positions with prostitutes, or that evidence was somehow invented. In fact, Healy was a serial sexual and emotional abuser of young women. He misused his position of trust and authority with respect to his many victims.

There is voluminous evidence of Healy’s abuse, much of it in the public domain. For example, the essentials of a damning report of the WRP’s internal enquiry were reproduced in an earlier memoir, Staying Red by Norman Harding.

These events, decades ago, may be of tangental relevance to some readers. But we who were there at the time feel that false impressions should not gain currency. Close friends of mine were among Healy’s victims.

Sexual abuse cases are treated seriously by Catholic congregations who have defied hierarchy to unmask perpetrators, dead or alive, from no matter how long ago. The journalistic profession should take the same attitude to Healy’s case.

Simon Pirani,

Newsline journalist 1977-1985; writer on the former Soviet Union.

(Note. The Walkley magazine published the letter in its print version, with some minor editorial cuts. It has not yet appeared in the on-line version.)


Laurie Oakes’s review of Mitchell’s book is here.

Staying Red by Norman Harding is published on line here. Of particular relevance is Chapter 16, which includes the main points of a WRP internal commission report into Healy’s abusive behaviour.

A talk I gave on the sectish nature of left-wing groups in the 1970s and 80s is here.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: