Pros­ti­tuted at 12 by my mother... to Mor­ris Mi­nor icon Lord Nuffield

He was a ti­tan of Bri­tish phi­lan­thropy who founded an Ox­ford col­lege. Now his vic­tim – af­ter a life­time of si­lence – re­veals her shat­ter­ing po­lice tes­ti­mony

The Mail on Sunday - - Focus - By Pa­tri­cia Kane

ONE of the rich­est men of the 20th Cen­tury, car mag­nate Lord Nuffield, once said: ‘I just want to pass out feel­ing I’ve done my best for mankind.’

His­tory has cer­tainly been kind to him, and with good rea­son. To­day the multi-mil­lion­aire founder of Mor­ris Mo­tors – and of an Ox­ford Univer­sity col­lege – is viewed as one of this coun­try’s great­est-ever phi­lan­thropists.

Yet for all the mil­lions he gave away, there is at least one woman who still shud­ders when she thinks of Lord Nuffield’s ‘gen­eros­ity’ and the price she paid in re­turn.

This woman has told po­lice that Wil­liam Nuffield sub­jected her to a decade of sex­ual abuse, which started when she was 12 years old and ended only when she be­came en­gaged to be mar­ried.

To­day, Ann Vaughan, now 79, has bravely agreed to waive her right to anonymity to re­veal how the peer sys­tem­at­i­cally as­saulted her – with, shock­ingly, she says, the silent con­nivance of a mother who was cowed by his wealth and in­flu­ence.

‘I re­alise now that my mother pros­ti­tuted me at the age of 12 to a man who was 60,’ she adds sadly. ‘My par­ents al­ways lived be­yond their means. I was very young for my age and so when Nuffield sin­gled me out, rather than pro­tect me they must have seen it as manna from Heaven for them. In­stead of pro­tect­ing me, they al­lowed the abuse to con­tinue for years, turn­ing a blind eye. They used their in­no­cent child to keep them­selves in the style they were ac­cus­tomed to.’

Af­ter she met Lord Nuffield in hos­pi­tal while she was await­ing ma­jor hip surgery, he:

Called her his ‘lit­tle devil’ and a ‘tease’ while abus­ing her;

Paid her med­i­cal fees, mak­ing her par­ents feel be­holden to him;

Made spe­cial ar­range­ments to be home alone with her af­ter her dis­charge from hos­pi­tal;

Gave £8,000 (the equiv­a­lent of £250,000 to­day) of his shares to her, with her par­ents’ knowl­edge, months af­ter meet­ing her.

It was the start of a long and abu­sive re­la­tion­ship, con­ducted in his guise as a fam­ily friend and bene­fac­tor. The abuse, which be­gan in the sum­mer of 1948 and con­tin­ued even af­ter she went to study his­tory at Ox­ford Univer­sity, only ended in 1959 when she told Lord Nuffield she would be get­ting mar­ried.

It is a dis­tress­ing story but also a tan­gled one. With the pas­sage of time, al­most all ev­i­dence by way of pho­to­graphs, me­men­toes and let­ters has been lost, stolen or de­stroyed.

Yet in per­son, Ann, who was pre­sented to the Queen at Court as a school­girl and is a dis­tant rel­a­tive of Virginia Woolf, is ut­terly con­vinc­ing. Af­ter decades of si­lence, it was a BBC documentary, which por­trayed Lord Nuffield as an al­tru­is­tic phi­lan­thropist, that led her to give po­lice a state­ment, sick­ened that she might die with­out the truth about his al­leged crimes be­ing ex­posed.

‘I had to tell some­one about this di­a­bol­i­cal crea­ture who had tor­mented me,’ she says. ‘I’m sure I was not the only lit­tle girl that Nuffield abused.

‘The in­jus­tice of this de­spi­ca­ble man, ad­mit­tedly to be ad­mired for his in­ven­tions and busi­ness ac­u­men, be­ing a closet preda­tory pae­dophile has ran­kled with me all these years. My hope is that by speak­ing out it might em­bolden other vic­tims to do the same and also it might de­ter other rich, pow­er­ful pae­dophiles from ru­in­ing the lives of chil­dren.’

As the pi­o­neer of af­ford­able cars, such as the Mor­ris Mi­nor, Lord Nuffield re­put­edly earned £2,000 a day (about £100,000 in to­day’s money). Yet, he lived in com­par­a­tive mod­esty with his wife, El­iz­a­beth. To­day, the late Lord and Lady Nuffield’s home, Nuffield Place at Hun­ter­combe, near Henley-on-Thames in Ox­ford­shire, is a per­fectly pre­served 1930s ‘time warp’ run by the Na­tional Trust, which is open to the pub­lic. But for Ann there are no fond mem­o­ries of the house, as it is where her tor­men­tor al­legedly sub­jected her to some of the abuse.

In her po­lice state­ment, she re­called: ‘I re­mem­ber when I was 12 years old, Nuffield picked me up in his Wolse­ley car and drove me to his house, which had big elec­tric gates. I re­mem­ber be­ing amazed that the gates were op­er­ated from in­side the car and then hor­ri­fied when they shut be­hind us as I was now trapped. The same would hap­pen as it al­ways did. His wife was out shop­ping and we would have lunch and then he would of­ten re­move my lower cloth­ing and grope my gen­i­tals, of­ten roughly. He re­mained fully dressed, although he would un­zip his flies... He would tell me to say, “I am en­joy­ing it,” which I re­fused to do.’

The abuse had be­gun months ear­lier when, in the sum­mer of 1948, she was ad­mit­ted to a pri­vate ward at the Wingfield Mor­ris Or­thopaedic Cen­tre in Ox­ford for ma­jor surgery with Pro­fes­sor Gathorne Girdle­stone, a pi­o­neer of hip pro­ce­dures.

Ann says: ‘The first I was aware of Lord Nuffield was when a nurse wheeled my bed into his room at the hos­pi­tal as he had ap­par­ently heard me singing. He was in hav­ing surgery to his toe. This is when the groom­ing be­gan. It started with Nuffield stroking my leg and telling me how pretty I was. Nuffield would tell me how much he loved chil­dren and was very ex­plicit about his wife, their sex life and them not hav­ing chil­dren.

‘His wife re­fused to have sex­ual re­la­tions with him ap­par­ently. I re­mem­ber ask­ing him why he was telling me these things. I didn’t want to hear it. I did know about the facts of life but I did feel it was in­ap­pro­pri­ate him dis­cussing his sex life with me.’

While she re­cov­ered post­surgery and af­ter his own dis­charge as a pa­tient, Lord Nuffield would con­tinue to visit, buy­ing her gifts. One in par­tic­u­lar, a Swiss gold wrist watch with pre­cious gems, had the words ‘To AEV, From N’, en­graved on the back, while in­side a copy of the 1912 Jean Web­ster novel Dad­dyLong-Legs, which he also gave her in hos­pi­tal, he had writ­ten: ‘To the lit­tle Devil, from Me, Nuffield.’

SHE added: ‘I be­lieve Girdle­stone had his sus­pi­cions about Nuffield as on one oc­ca­sion he was quick to or­der me to my own room when he found me in Nuffield’s bed.

‘I re­mem­ber I used to ask Nuffield why he had no friends. He said that, although I was only a child, I was the only per­son he could trust. He made me prom­ise never to say any­thing about our friend­ship.’

In Septem­ber 1948 she was re­leased from hos­pi­tal and spent the rest of the sum­mer at home with her fam­ily.

But she re­calls: ‘Nuffield would visit me at home and would do in­ap­pro­pri­ate things to my gen­i­tals. I hated it. He would of­ten try to put the blame on me by call­ing me “a lit­tle devil” and how I “tease him”, which I never did. My mother would even make us a cold lunch which he would eat and then abuse me. Mother was a good woman or­di­nar­ily and, years later, I asked her why she had al­lowed it to hap­pen. She told me, “Girls of­ten have to sub­mit to thing they don’t like.”’

Ann be­lieves there were sus­pi­cions about Lord Nuffield’s ap­par­ent affin­ity with chil­dren as she re­calls a jour­nal­ist call­ing her mother at home, say­ing a nurse had ‘blown the whis­tle’ on him. ‘She said she knew noth­ing of what they were talk­ing about and put the phone down. Then she warned me about ever talk­ing about what went on with Nuffield as he was very kind to our fam­ily. He was so pow­er­ful by then, he was un­touch­able.’

She adds: ‘I do re­call him tak­ing me to the bank on one oc­ca­sion to get a bank ac­count. He told the bank man­ager, “If you tell any­one, all of my money will be re­moved from the bank.”

‘We went into a pri­vate room. He paid in £8,000. It was a large sum at that time and en­abled my fam­ily to live well be­yond their means. He told me the money was so I could be in­de­pen­dent of my par­ents – at the age of 12 – and I would al­ways have enough money to sup­port my­self. I had my own cheque book and wrote cheques to my mother.’

In Oc­to­ber 1956, Ann be­came a stu­dent at Ox­ford Univer­sity, where she tried to throw her­self into the so­cial whirl­wind of un­der-

grad­u­ate life, join­ing the drama so­ci­ety, where she shared a stage with the late ac­tor Dud­ley Moore.

Just six months ear­lier, with high hopes that Nuffield would fi­nally leave her alone, she had fin­ished her boad­ing-school ed­u­ca­tion. Although not of­fi­cially a debu­tante, she had been one of the last girls to be pre­sented to the Queen at Buck­ing­ham Palace be­fore the ‘com­ing out’ cer­e­mony was fi­nally abol­ished.

But Lord Nuffield still showed no sign of los­ing in­ter­est, she claims, and hav­ing been forced through the peer’s gen­er­ous do­na­tion to be­come her fam­ily’s main bread­win­ner for years, she felt ‘con­di­tioned’ to con­tinue with their meet­ings.

She would reg­u­larly catch the bus from Ox­ford to Cow­ley, where his car plant was based. ‘I’m not sure any­one knew where I was go­ing but I’m sure they won­dered,’ she said. ‘There was a room above his of­fice and in the room was a sin­is­ter leather couch. Nuffield would lay me down on this couch with him on top and he would fum­ble around. He was too clever to rape me be­cause that would mean con­tra­cep­tion and pos­si­ble dis­cov­ery.’

She added: ‘Nuffield used to boast that his per­sonal as­sis­tant used to pro­cure girls for him in South Africa and Aus­tralia, where he’d opened a new fac­tory. But he told me he didn’t take to them like he took to me, be­cause they were “too know­ing” and had “lost their in­no­cent looks”.’

Born in 1877, he had made his for­tune as plain Wil­liam Mor­ris, an en­gi­neer who cre­ated the Mor­ris Ox­ford ‘bull­nose’, Bri­tain’s equiva- lent to the Model T Ford, America’s new mass-pro­duced car. By 1926, he was a multi-mil­lion­aire and be­gan mak­ing a se­ries of large do­na­tions to good causes. Lord Nuffield, who died child­less in 1963, do­nated an es­ti­mated £30mil­lion to char­i­ta­ble causes dur­ing his life­time – equiv­a­lent to £700mil­lion to­day. But with wealth came power. Ann re­calls: ‘He was ex­tremely de­vi­ous and ma­nip­u­la­tive. What struck me was his delight at how he could get his way with ev­ery­one. When his wife was re­fused mem­ber­ship at a lo­cal golf club, he just bought it so she could play there.’

Ann says: ‘The last time I saw him was in his of­fice in Cow­ley in 1959 when I told him I was en­gaged. He’d just abused me when I broke the news. In my naivety, I thought he would be happy for me. But he was ab­so­lutely fu­ri­ous.

‘I told him I was get­ting mar­ried in Novem­ber. He or­dered me out and told me he never wanted to see me again. I can’t de­scribe the re­lief I felt for the first time in years.’

In re­cent years, she has un­der­gone coun­selling to help her deal with the trauma of her abuse. Hav­ing man­aged to bury it for most of her life, her or­deal was reawak­ened two years ago by a BBC documentary com­mem­o­rat­ing his life and work.

‘Far from be­ing a mod­est, kindly phi­lan­thropist as por­trayed on the BBC, he was a ruth­less, sadis­tic pae­dophile, dis­tract­ing at­ten­tion from his pae­dophilia by lav­ish do­na­tions to medicine in par­tic­u­lar,’ she says.

‘Af­ter the pro­gramme, I be­came a swirling mess, short and tetchy. I re­alised I couldn’t live with the knowl­edge that I might go to my grave and never ac­cuse Nuffield pub­licly. And it was only when I read the de­tails of what Jimmy Sav­ile did that I re­alised the sever­ity of what I en­dured, but at the time my mother was not pre­pared to lis­ten and I didn’t have the vo­cab­u­lary to de­scribe it.’

She de­cided to make a po­lice state­ment, aware that as the peer was dead he could not be held ac­count­able for his ac­tions but want­ing her ac­count of events to be held on file in case other vic­tims felt the need to come for­ward at a fu­ture date.

Sadly, she has been told by po­lice that there is not enough ev­i­dence cur­rently to make a case be­cause many key wit­nesses are now dead.

Yes­ter­day, a Thames Val­ley Po­lice spokes­woman said: ‘We take all al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual abuse se­ri­ously and in­ves­ti­gate them, but do not com­ment on in­di­vid­ual cases.’

But Ann, a grand­mother, ad­mits she feels fi­nally free of her bur­den. ‘It was a huge re­lief to me of­fi­cially to record the events. I am so an­gry at the way in which rich, Estab­lish­ment men con­tinue to wreck chil­dren’s lives. I didn’t want to be haunted by this evil man any longer.’

‘He was so pow­er­ful by

then... un­touch­able’

LEGACY:Ox­ford Univer­sity’s Nuffield Col­lege, which the car en­gi­neer founded in 1937

SPEAK­ING OUT:Ann Vaughan to­day

VAST FOR­TUNE: Lord Nuffield with his Wolse­ley in the 1950s and, left, Ann Vaughan, aged 13, a year af­ter she met the peer

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