Partner Edward Richard "Teddy" Smith

Queer Places:
Lancing College, Lancing BN15 0RW, Regno Unito
University of Oxford, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3PA

Related imageThomas Edward Neil Driberg, Baron Bradwell (22 May 1905 – 12 August 1976) was a British journalist, politician, High Anglican churchman and possible Soviet spy, who served as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1942-55, and again from 1959-74. A member of the Communist Party of Great Britain for more than twenty years, he was first elected to parliament as an Independent, and joined the Labour Party in 1945. He never held any ministerial office, but rose to senior positions within the Labour Party and was a popular and influential figure in left-wing politics for many years. He was a member of the Hypocrites' Club. Evelyn Waugh introduced Tom Driberg to the club. Driberg remembered "dancing with John F., while Evelyn and another rolled on a sofa with (as one of them said later) their 'tongues licking each other's tonsils'."[10]

The son of a retired colonial officer, Driberg was educated at Lancing and Christ Church, Oxford. After leaving the university without a degree, he attempted to establish himself as a poet before joining the Daily Express as a reporter, later becoming a columnist. In 1933 he began the "William Hickey" society column, which he continued to write until 1943. He was later a regular columnist for the Co-operative Group newspaper Reynold's News and for other left-leaning journals. He wrote several books, including biographies of the press baron Lord Beaverbrook and the Soviet spy Guy Burgess. He retired from the House of Commons in 1974, and was subsequently raised to the peerage as Baron Bradwell, of Bradwell juxta Mare in the County of Essex.

Driberg made no secret of his homosexuality, which he practised throughout his life despite its being a criminal offence in Britain until 1967; his ability to avoid any consequences for his risky and often brazen behaviour baffled his friends and colleagues. Always in search of bizarre experiences, Driberg befriended at various times the occultist Aleister Crowley and the Kray twins, along with honoured and respected figures in the worlds of literature and politics. He combined this lifestyle with an unwavering devotion to Anglo-Catholicism.

Tom Driberg, who also served as the gossip columnist for The Daily Express newspaper knew the Conservative peer Lord Boothby very well through the dinner parties hosted by Lord Beaverbrook, the proprietor of The Daily Express.[46] Through his friend, the theatre director Joan Littlewood, Driberg had met Reggie Kray.[46] Through their mutual friendship, he introduced Ronald "Ronnie" Kray to Boothby.[46] Ronnie was a sexual sadist while Boothby was a masochist who enjoyed the way that he was dominated by Ronnie.[47] Boothby loved the limelight, and he used the fame that he had garnered from being Churchill's parliamentary secretary to often appear on television talks shows in the 1950s-1960s as the designated spokesman for the Conservative Party on the issues of the day.[48] Boothby's career had been marred by scandal as his cousin, Simon Carey, noted: "Bob found it very, very difficult to tell the truth".[48] However, this aspect of his life was unknown to the general public, who knew Boothby as a celebrity peer who was constantly on the talk shows.[49] Boothby's status as the unofficial Tory television champion would make any scandal involving him especially damaging to the Conservative Party.[50] For the purposes of blackmail and the sense of power that came from associating with powerful men, Ronnie hosted parties for Boothby and other upper-class gay men where attractive working class "rent boys" were made available for sex.[51] In July 1964 an exposé in the tabloid newspaper Sunday Mirror insinuated that Ronnie had begun a homosexual relationship with Boothby,[52] at a time when sex between men was still a criminal offence in the UK. Scotland Yard had leaked to the Sunday Mirror several photographs featuring Ronnie and Boothby posing together along with photographs of them with Boothby's chauffeur Leslie Holt and Teddy Smith, a member of "the Firm" who was also the lover of Driberg.[53] The photographs were not printed, but alluded to in the Sunday Mirror's headline "The Pictures We Must Not Print" along with the subtitle "Peer and Gangster: Yard Inquiry".[49] Although no names were printed in the piece, the twins threatened the journalists involved and Boothby threatened to sue the newspaper with the help of Labour Party leader Harold Wilson's solicitor, Arnold Goodman. In the face of this, the Sunday Mirror backed down, sacking its editor, printing an apology and paying Boothby £40,000 in an out-of-court settlement.[54] Because of this, other newspapers were unwilling to expose the Krays' connections and criminal activities. Decades later, Channel 4 established the truth of the allegations and released a documentary on the subject called The Gangster and the Pervert Peer (2009).[55] Boothby called the £40,000 pounds (close to a million pounds in 2010 values) he was awarded from The Sunday Mirror "tainted money", and though he professed to have donated the majority of the money to charity, it appears the Krays took the bulk of the £40,000 pounds.[47] One of Boothby's first actions after being awarded the libel suit was to write a cheque for £5,000 pounds to Ronnie.[56] Ronnie had also launched a libel action of his own against The Sunday Mirror columnist Cecil King for calling him a "homosexual thug" in one of his columns, but the judge dismissed the suit under the grounds that it was a "fair comment".[56] Ronnie was furious about the dismissal, raging to a group of journalists: "Proves what I always said. One law for the fucking rich and another for the poor".[56] Police investigated the Krays on several occasions, but the brothers' reputation for violence made witnesses afraid to testify. There was also a problem for both main political parties. The Conservative Party was unwilling to press the police to end the Krays' power for fear that the Boothby connection would again be publicised, and the Labour Party, in power from October 1964 but with an extremely thin majority in the House of Commons and the prospect of another general election needing to be called in the very near future, did not want connections between Ronnie and Tom Driberg, a relatively openly gay Labour MP, to get into the public realm.[57][58]

After his death, allegations were published about his role over many years as an MI5 informant, a KGB agent, or both. The extent and nature of Driberg's involvement with these agencies remain uncertain.

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