‘The rent boys would claim to be over age but were more like14’

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Comment - By Si­mon Wal­ters

‘I THOUGHT I’d be dead by now, but I’m alarm­ingly well,’ says Roddam Twiss as I in­ter­view him at his dingy flat in West Lon­don.

At 78 his mem­ory is as sharp as a knife as he de­scribes the Lon­don rent-boy scene of the 1970s and 1980s and the ‘Meat Rack’: ‘It started at the rail­ings of the Re­gent Palace Ho­tel.

‘Rent boys look­ing for cus­tomers would lean on the rail­ings and men look­ing for boys would go and see if they fan­cied any­one.

‘But it was dan­ger­ous. Most of the boys just wanted to rob you for drugs. It was much safer to pick up one in one of Soho’s gay drink­ing clubs. They would all say they were over age but some were more like 14 or 15.’

Twiss says po­lit­i­cal fig­ures were among those who went look­ing for rent boys. But asked if he knew their names, he replies ‘No. And if I could I wouldn’t tell you’, adding: ‘There were more Tories than Labour.’

He paints a vivid pic­ture of the fear felt by ho­mo­sex­u­als in those days: ‘You couldn’t leave a night­club with some­one you didn’t know, par­tic­u­larly a man, with­out at­tract­ing sus­pi­cion. The po­lice could have ar­rested half the West End.’

When I ask Twiss what he knows about claims of a pae­dophile ring at West­min­ster, he says po­lice in­ves­ti­gat­ing his­toric child abuse vis­ited him re­cently and spent three hours ask­ing him sim­i­lar ques­tions, mainly about Sir Ed­ward Heath. He told them he did not be­lieve the for­mer PM abused young boys.

As we chat in his front room, Twiss in­tro­duces me to Martin, 28, who he says is his carer. A suc­ces­sion of other scruffy young men stroll in and out of the flat. ‘I’m gay – I make no bones about that,’ says Twiss, un­prompted.

He says he met scan­dal-hit Lib­eral leader Jeremy Thorpe ‘in pass­ing’ and was ‘al­ways sus­pi­cious’ about him, and adds that ‘ev­ery­one knew’ Cyril Smith was pick­ing up young rent boys in Soho.

When I tell Truss he was fol­lowed by po­lice around 1978 or 1979, he is shocked.

But he cor­rob­o­rates key as­pects of the po­lice story: he lived above a pa­rade of shops in Crick­le­wood and was a reg­u­lar vis­i­tor to Dol­phin Square. How­ever, he flatly de­nies Smith took a rent boy to his flat. ‘I knew Cyril was into boys. But ab­so­lutely not. It would have brought shame to my fa­ther.’

Asked if he was a ‘fixer’ who pro­cured rent boys for other West­min­ster fig­ures, he replies sharply: ‘Even if I was I wouldn’t tell you, I as­sure you.’ And he in­sists he never went to the ‘Meat Rack’.

How­ever, he is happy to boast of his con­nec­tions. ‘My fa­ther was Black Rod and high-pro­file in po­lit­i­cal cir­cles… I used to visit him at the Lords where he had a grace and favour home.’

His sec­ond en­trée to high so­ci­ety was through his ‘stock­bro­ker’, the Hon Mervyn Green­way, mil­lion­aire play­boy son of the 3rd Baron Green­way. ‘Mervyn knew ev­ery­one in high places,’ says Twiss. ‘I met them through him.’ He of­ten vis­ited Green­way at his flat in Dol­phin Square, a place he says was per­fect for res­i­dents, in­clud­ing West­min­ster fig­ures, who wanted to mis­be­have.

‘If you knew the right porter, you’d leave a few pounds and they would al­low your guests in with no ques­tions asked.’

Par­ties would start in the flats and then ‘spill out­side into the square on balmy sum­mer evenings. It was ‘a den of in­iq­uity for 30 years’, with res­i­dents’ ‘mis­tresses and pros­ti­tutes’ among the guests.

In­clud­ing male pros­ti­tutes? ‘Yes, prob­a­bly.’ But again, he can’t – or won’t – name names.

Twiss says his fa­ther ‘thought I should have done more with my life’ and was dis­ap­pointed he did not fol­low him into the Armed Forces, in­stead go­ing into teach­ing. But he re­fuses to be­lieve his fa­ther banned him from the Palace of West­min­ster.

He says he gave up ‘spank­ing’ young boys long ago and he changed his name to Ray­mond Gib­son after fin­ish­ing his third jail sen­tence in 2006 and ‘dis­ap­peared’ from Lon­don, mov­ing to Sheer­ness, Kent.

Twiss hap­pily agreed to meet me for din­ner the next day to con­tinue our con­ver­sa­tion. But he cried off at the last minute, tex­ting: ‘I told you all I can re­mem­ber. I am not will­ing to de­fame the dead be­cause it will only hurt their fam­i­lies.’

VIP PAR­TIES: Dol­phin Square

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