The Establishment paedophile: how a monster hid in high society

Roger Took was a pillar of academia, with an enviable Chelsea address. He was also a vicious paedophile. Charlotte Metcalf shows how the veneer of social respectability can protect even the worst offenders

9 July 2008

12:00 AM

9 July 2008

12:00 AM

The five-year-old girl cowers naked and crying in a corner. She is so frightened that she urinates. One of the men in the room hits her repeatedly. The others laugh. Another man picks her up and throws her face down on the bed. Then the men rape her. She dies soon afterwards of atrocious injuries.

This is the scenario that the respected art historian and curator, Roger Took, boasted repeatedly about in internet ‘chat rooms’ to fellow paedophiles. In the chat rooms, Took relates how a Dutch man bought the child in Cambodia, kept her for a week and how Took was part of the group who enjoyed ‘splitting her apart’ one night. After Took was arrested last April, the police interviewed him in connection with the child’s murder but Took insisted it was mere fantasy and the police passed the case on to Interpol. Fantasy it could be, but the fact so many like-minded men laughed and masturbated over a helpless child’s torture, terror and death is chilling and profoundly disturbing.

Roger Took was sentenced this February to a minimum of four and a half years in prison as part of an indeterminate sentence for 17 other crimes relating to child abuse. They included molesting two of his step-granddaughters and the possession of 260 photographs, including 102 ‘Level 5s’, which mean they contain images of children being tortured or penetrated, including by animals. One photograph showed a penis entering the vagina of a baby. Many images showed small children shackled to chairs or bars, in obvious pain. The police recovered these images from Took’s laptop. There were, apparently, thousands more on his main computer but the hard drive had broken and police experts were unable to retrieve them. When police raided Took’s home, they found a locked case containing a large bundle of photographs of naked young Russian women, believed to be prostitutes, one having sex with Took, and clippings of children’s hair.

Also on Took’s laptop were 742 chat logs of a sexual nature relating to children, adding up to over 1,500 pages. Took posed as ‘Dad of 2 Superkids’ in the chat rooms and, pretending they were his daughters, posted photographs of his step-granddaughters, Grace, aged nine, and Gillian, aged 11, comparing their vaginas and inviting others in the chat room to masturbate over the images. Judge Blacksell, presiding over the sentencing hearing, referred to the chat logs as ‘unrestrained filth and depravity of the worst type’.

Depravity exists and we are all aware that there are dangerous paedophiles at large. However, what is remarkable about Took’s case is that his respectability and status blinded some who knew him to the true horror of his crimes and, to an extent, protected him from the public outrage that normally follows the exposure of such appalling acts against children. Took’s sentencing was followed by one UK internet news report and a single paragraph in a side column of the Saturday edition of the Times. Compare that with the enormous publicity and accompanying outcry following the conviction of 64-year-old Arthur Morley, jailed indefinitely just two weeks ago for having the ‘worst child porn collection ever found in Britain’, according to several news agencies, including the BBC, ITN and Sky. Morley was very publicly slated whereas Took’s high profile as an art historian of note means that some are still unwilling or unable to believe the full extent of how dangerous he is. After his conviction, one of his woman friends emailed Took’s wife, Pat, saying, ‘I choose God’s way and I know He would forgive Roger… We have no right to judge and to destroy a person’s life when he wants to live a different life.’ The woman clearly could not, or chose not to, grasp the destruction Took himself had wreaked.

Pat has not seen her husband since he was arrested. The first Pat knew of his gruesome activities was when two Gardaí arrived at her Irish home to inform her of his arrest. At first she was in shocked denial, but once the evidence was shown to her, she accepted that she had been the victim of betrayal on an almost unbearable scale over 25 years.

I first met Pat three months ago. She is a gentle, intelligent, sensitive woman of 69. She has money, taste and a considerable reputation as a painter. She decided to tell The Spectator her story to make people aware of the harm Took has done to her family and what he is capable of doing to other children, should he be released from jail.

When Pat met Took 25 years ago, she was divorced from her first husband by whom she had a son and two teenage daughters. Took, her junior by seven years, charmed Pat and paid flattering attention to her daughters, particularly Jennifer who was 13 at the time. Now Pat says wearily, but without a trace of self-pity, ‘He married me for my money. And for my children.’ It was Pat’s money that enabled Took to lead his double life, giving him a substantial Chelsea home as a base and all the attendant means and prosperous gloss to hide behind.


Pat’s family noticed that Took liked teenage girls. They treated it as a bit of a joke, which they feel sick about in hindsight, but none of them ever imagined his passion was for small children. Pat and the police now fear that Took molested another granddaughter, Cathy, a mentally and physically disabled three-year-old whose legs previously had to be pinned back and apart in a brace, meaning she was unable to walk, let alone run away. He certainly bragged about it in several chat rooms. Though police interviewed Cathy, her mental disability made it impossible for her to deliver the reliable evidence they needed to press charges. In her witness statement to the court, Cathy’s mother, Jennifer, wrote of her daughter’s third birthday party and how attentive Took had appeared to be, running errands and helping with the cake, while in all probability he had access to Cathy for long enough to rape or molest her. ‘I will have to live with the uncertainty surrounding this for the rest of my life,’ wrote Jennifer. ‘The last year has been hell. My trust and view of the world has changed forever… I can no longer leave my children in the care of other people without feeling suspicious of them. What remaining innocence I had is lost. I feel that under the surface of the world there is evil.’ Indeed, the long-term impact of Took’s abuse cannot begin to be calculated.

I visited Detective Sergeant Kevin Hudson and Detective Constable Steve Dobson, the Child Protection Officers in charge of the case, at their Kensington headquarters. I wanted to see the transcripts of Took’s chat logs. The five boxes of them, labelled RF Took, sat on the table between us like malicious toads in the child-friendly ‘Family Room’ that was furnished with cosy sofas in cheery hues and cuddly toys. I only read a fraction of the material but it was enough. I cried. The police were sympathetic, offering tea and tissues — the transcripts had upset them too. Both officers told me that their attitudes towards their home lives had been temporarily poisoned by having to wade through the Took pages. Again and again, Took and like-minded men salivated and masturbated over the fantasy of raping, punishing, hurting and ultimately killing little girls. DS Hudson said this was not a job anyone with a small child found bearable. Their job is made harder by the fact that ‘fantasy’, however gruesome and violent, is not illegal and there is nothing anyone can do to close down the chat rooms. They will be investigating 130 other paedophiles identified via internet links with Took.

Took recounted certain incidents, including the gang rape and murder of the Cambo
dian child and the abuse of disabled three-year-old Cathy, with such frequency and consistency that the police treated them as potential facts, but were unable to prove they were not fantasies and, despite their violence, Took received a sentence fairly in line with other paedophiles’ sentences. ‘No sentence ever reflects the life of trauma, hurt and anguish suffered by the victims,’ says Hudson. He and Dobson believe that Took is mainly without remorse, does not take full responsibility for his actions and so remains a grave danger to the public. They should know — they interviewed him for a period of 14 hours over four months.

Roger Took was educated at Haileybury college, Sandhurst and the Courtauld Institute. He later became director of the Barbican Art Gallery and then the founder of Artangel, now a hugely successful institution within the field of contemporary art. His book about Russian Lapland, Running with Reindeer, was short-listed for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and more recently he was achieving acclaim as an expert on the mediaeval Russian fur trade.

No one, including his wife, imagined Took was leading a double life, complete with different passport and false ID as Paul Schischka — creepily, his mother’s maiden name was Paula Schischka. Russia, with its lack of infrastructure for dealing with paedophiles, was the perfect country for Took to abuse children in. One chat log related how he plied a prostitute with alcohol till she passed out so he could turn his attention to her nine-year-old daughter. Describing with relish how terrified the little girl was as he began to twist her arm prior to raping her, I noticed the people with whom Took was ‘chatting’ using the acronym ‘LOL’. DS Hudson told me that it meant ‘laugh out loud’.

Then, in February last year, Took made his mistake. He joined Pat, her daughters, Anne and Jennifer, and Pat’s granddaughters on holiday in the Dominican Republic. On the way to the airport after the holiday, Anne found $100 in nine-year-old Grace’s luggage. Grace told her mother that Took had paid her to pose for photographs. Eventually she confessed that Took had been sexually abusing her for as long as she could remember. Anne called the police and Took was finally arrested at Luton airport last April.

Between February and April, Anne was told by the police not to say anything to Pat. The police wanted to ensure they caught Took with incriminating evidence and it was essential not to alert him beforehand. During that time Pat was distraught, imagining from her daughter’s strange attitude on the telephone that she was having marital problems. Both Jennifer and Anne insisted I stress that this was, for them, the worst six weeks of their lives.

Judge Blacksell deemed Took to be enough of a danger to the public to give him an indeterminate sentence but, because the case was hardly reported, it was up to Pat to tell many of Took’s acquaintances and friends about what had happened. Mischa Naimark, a former colleague in Russia, who was collaborating on Took’s next expedition, told Pat she should not go round publicising his arrest. Instead she should be a ‘good, tactful wife’ and suggested she was ‘jealous’ of her ‘younger rivals’. It was as if Naimark was ticking her off for exaggerating while Took’s impeccable social credentials and high-flying academic career served to cushion him from condemnation.

Ute Chatterjee, a woman who had been helping Took with research, was the Membership and Meeting Secretary of the Great Britain–Russia Society. When Took failed to arrive in Russia as planned to begin his expedition, she took it upon herself to lie on his behalf, even phoning the other people involved to tell them he had had an accident. Later she began asking Pat’s friends in England and Ireland if they would receive letters or calls from Took. Pat wrote to the president of the Society in an attempt to stop her. Like others, Chatterjee found Took’s charm and academic reputation so plausible that she was happy to continue helping him.

Took is now appealing. Despite his indeterminate sentence, he will be eligible for parole in just three and a half years, having already served nearly a year on remand. DS Hudson is in no doubt that Took’s addiction to small girls is ‘progressive’ and very dangerous, witness the way Took casually dismissed the harm he did Grace, saying, ‘Everything was all right there, there is no damage done.’ Despite this, Took still seems to have persuaded his supporters of his contrition and enthusiasm for treatment and rehabilitation.

Judge Blacksell was clearly appalled by Took’s crimes but he took ‘into account’ the ‘large bundle of testimonials’ that, according to Took’s barrister, painted him as ‘gentle, kind, caring man who has enriched the lives of many over many years’. In all there were 23 letters of support for Took and three character witnesses, on behalf of five people, who spoke at the hearing, including his older half-brother, John Michael Took, the Reverend Adrian Gabb-Jones and Matteos Los, a schoolfriend from a Greek shipping family. Even when sentencing him, Judge Blacksell at times shied away from the evil of Took’s mind by saying, ‘I have no doubt at all that men such as yourself are ill, you suffer from an illness.’ He even suggested Took could ‘exact some pity’ from the person sentencing him.

DS Hudson was disappointed that the harrowing witness statements from Pat and her daughters did not appear to play a greater role in the sentencing process. The impact of Pat and her family’s own suffering seemed to have been neutralised by the impressive array of respectable friends and family members who wrote supportive letters or turned up to speak or wrote in Took’s defence. Pat’s own witness statement was short but all the more powerful for being so. She wrote: ‘My sanity has been sorely tested. I live from day to day. His very clever, devious and artful betrayal of me, my family and friends for so many years is hard to come to terms with. The dreadful damage he has done to three of my darling granddaughters is heinous in the extreme.’

Ultimately it was precisely Took’s respectability that enabled him to pursue his lusts for so long. As Judge Blacksell said, ‘You were not just anybody, Mr Took, you were the trusted adult, you preyed on them because it was your standing that allowed you to have access to them in the next-door room to where the parent was.’

Child abuse, like domestic abuse, happens behind the most expensive, salubrious of doors and we need to face up to this. It was the complacent conviction that it could not happen in a nice middle-class suburb that meant Fritzel could go about his hideous double life in Austria with his family in the cellar, unnoticed for so long. At least Fritzel’s house looks like a grim prison-block that allows us to set him apart and view him as a freak. Took, on the other hand, lived in a beautiful, spacious home in Chelsea, surrounded by paintings and books, and was able to blind those around him with the sheer weight of his glamour and assured social status. Many paedophiles can. It is as if a man of intelligence and achievement cannot take the intellectual leap into such darkness. But he clearly can — and has.

It has been said often before, but it is time we stopped dismissing child abuse as something that happens on rough council estates — witness the media frenzy over the Shannon Matthews case in comparison with Took’s largely unreported crimes. If we are to learn anything from Took’s case, it is surely that paedophiles are those members of the Establishment whom we meet in university lecture halls, art galleries, boardrooms, on private jets and at smart dinner parties. Paedophiles live among
us. It is sickening to report that Took now reads The Spectator in prison as a badge of his learning and respectability. He obtains it, cunningly, via third parties, so his subscription cannot be cancelled. One hopes he reads this article with particular care.

© Charlotte Metcalf 2008

This Article Was Written With The Co-operation Of Pat’s Family, But To Protect The Identity Of Individual Family Members, Their Names, Though Not Pat’s, Have Been Changed.

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Show comments
  • Water

    That’s awful; nothing infuriates me more then this, I’m not a man who uses obscenities often but stories of this nature, ugh. You’re not wrong it aptly highlights how the “veneer of social respectability can protect even the worst offenders” but unfortunately it happens, everywhere and under most veneers, unfortunately, academic or otherwise, there lies a sickening underbelly. Anybody who has associates who are social workers will be more then aware of the stories, it makes me quite nauseous.

  • Alma

    Astonishing how little discussion there has been on this case, given the severity of the abuse and the high profile of child abuse cases in the media. I find it shameful and it says more about the nature of our media than all the prattle about the invasion of privacy of self centred ‘celebs’ that this should be hidden away and effectively suppressed. I am ashamed of our media and our society.

  • zigzag

    I have just googled Roger Took and there is no information about his terrible crimes anywhere, I would like to suggest to his wife and family that they post information about him on Wikipedia, for all to see.

  • Julia

    To Pat,
    The devastation you must have felt when you learned of the viciousness & depravity of the paedophile tendencies of you husband I cannot begin to imagine. Your outstanding courage in bringing into the public domain the appalling danger posed by a “well respected man of learning” is to be praised. I salute your outstanding selflessness and bravery when you must have been going through personal agonies. I hope that through your efforts something positive can be drawn out of a tragedy affecting so many people.

  • Bridget Thomas

    What an excellent article by Charlotte Metcalf. Thank you for having the courage to publish more than a bland piece of margarine, such as one normally sees on this disgusting subject.

  • angelina Dolan

    My best and sincereaccolades to Pat and her daughters and their family. A brave lady and a journalists who has written an article of true support. I heard pat on women’s hour this morning -she is right priveledge should not protect you from media . I hope this article will create more,

  • David Aram

    How courageous of the Spectator to step out of its normal politically focused strategy to headline this terrible reality in our midst. This is a valuable break from the norm and should be continued, as The Speccie’s duty is not just to reflect the Establishment but occasionally to be its scourge.

  • marina

    From a professional point of view I wish more women had the courage of Pat; to give their husband or partner in the same situation a clear sense of what they did was wrong and their family every confidence that that are not collusive and would never be party to their behaviour. I have found that sometimes it is those with most to lose financially and socially in the long term that accept men back into their lives, whilst blaming themselves for the men’s behaviour. It takes courage to do what Pat did and I hope both women and men, if nothing else, at least think about what she said today during women’s hour . Depending on who is prepared to give supporting statements post conviction, it can even make the difference between a community sentence versus a custodial one in certain circumstances.

  • Conan McKenzie

    May I be the sole dissenting voice here, and say that I not only found the details of the case sickening and highly disturbing, but also Charlotte Metcalf’s attitude to Took and the whole case rather depressing? She makes the valuable point that paedophiles can be found in all sections of society, low and high, which is undoubtedly an important message that needs to be more widely appreciated. But we must also remember that most men are not paedophiles, and it is this kind of tabloid-style article, which devotes perhaps excessive amounts of space to the sordid details in order to provoke shock and disgust, that leads to the default attitude of suspicion of all men that is increasingly prevalent in our society. Metcalfe could, and in my opinion should, have made this point in the interests of balance. Secondly, it does not help to simply characterise these men as ‘monsters’ in headlines and cartoons, nor to express outrage that their friends and colleagues might stick up for them and testify as to their othwerwise good character when their whole life is (justifiably) collapsing about them. Even worse is her apparent outrage that the man reads the Spectator, and her wish that his suscription be cancelled – I never thought I would see such base tabloid hysteria in this magazine. Though the man has undoubtedly committed a terrible crime, for which he must be punished, it is surely not right to attempt to deny his very humanity and paint him merely as some subhuman monster, nor to hysterically deny him any pleasues (reading this magazine, for example) that might be left to him in prison. It is for the courts to punish, not the general public, and certainly not the media. All we can do, if and when he is released, is attempt to help him rehabilitate himself into general society, as we would for any criminal who has served his time, and do our utmost to prevent him from ever coming into unsupervised contact with children. Cartoons of monsters in armchairs will not help.

  • D Short

    This is an article that disparages ordinary folk.

  • David Glover

    I trust that somehow, and in some way, that The Spectator, now aware of the true facts of this dreadful case, will make the general public (ie. non-Spectator readers) more fully aware of the case and its implications for our society.

  • Eila Bannister

    Thank you Charlotte Metcalf for tackling such delicate subject with such accuracy and skill.

  • Tim

    We need to think very carefully about how best to protect children against this sort of crime.

    As from next year, the Independent Safeguarding Agency will be “monitoring” some 11 million inviduals – about 1 in 4 of the adult population – because they have contact with children or vulneraable adults, either in their paid work or as volunteers.

    None of this would have helped Took’s victims: they came into contact with him as a family member.

    Indeed, it may well be that in some cases the new regime will increase the risks to which children are exposed. It is difficult enough already to find volunteers to work with children – the new law will only make this worse. The fewer responsible unrelated adults playing a role in children’s lives, the harder it will be for children who are victims of abuse within the family to find a source of external support.

    In short, there is a danger that our concern about men like Took will lead us to support any measures that appear to offer better child protection, however intrusive or counterproductive. Raising children is the responsibility of the whole of society, not just parents. Yet contact between adults and children is increasingly seen as something exceptional, requiring the permission of the state, rather than as a normal part of civilised life.

  • D Davids

    I feel physically sick by this depravity and also from the fact that it was not reported. To Conan McKenzie’s post…protecting children is a must, excusing people who molest and abuse them is sick and indefensible. Shame on you.

  • Tim

    I fear Mr Davids’ post illustrates the difficulty in having a sane discussion about this subject. It is grossly unreasonable to read Conan McKenzie’s post as excusing those who molest and abuse children.

  • Patricia.

    I heard Pat speaking on Woman’s Hour yesterday, and was in tears by the end. I have three daughters and six granddaughters and just cannot begin to imagine the torture and guilt that she has gone through. I admire her courage in bringing this to public attention and deplore wholeheartedly the way that is has, allegedly, been kept quiet. And as to how any sane person could even begin to make excuses for Took’s behaviour, beggars belief.

  • Anne

    Congratulations to Pat for having had the courage to talk to a journalist about this topic of paeophilia. I also heard her talk on Woman’s Hour where she gave different kind of detail about her life with her husband. Paedophilia is abhorrent, and so are married people who go off and have affairs with others. It is not the way to behave. How would you feel if it was your daughter who was the Cambodian girl in the story? It could be me. Boris Johnson our mayor of London should do something about paedophilia in the capital. Human trafficking is wrong. Child abuse is wrong. We need to look after our children and offer them protection not abuse. We also need to protect vulnerable adults. Let us concentrate our efforts Boris, on POVA and CP.

  • Andrew

    I cannot remember being so effected by an article before. The hideous detail made me feel sick and tearful that such evil can exist. I just pray for his victims, that they can somehow live with their terrible abuse and find happiness.

  • Kiran

    Thank you for publishing this article and thanks to The Spectator for putting it on the cover. I hope it will encourage others to acknowledge evil and to expose it.

  • Anne

    What a brave lady! What courage it must have taken make that step into the public arena. The public have to be aware that actual abusers and internet offenders can be the most charming and successful members of society. They come from all walks of life and cross all sections of ethnicity, religion and social background. Likewise the public should be made aware of the devestating effects of this sort of crime, not only on the victims and their familes but also on the offenders’ families. The emotional trauma of coming to terms with a loved member of the family committing horrific crimes against children is almost impossible to deal with in itself, but this is also compacted by practical and financial implications, by the judgements of others and by a total lack of professional support in most areas. Without public awareness it becomes impossible to protect our children and more difficult to those who need support.

  • GK

    Dr Jekyll, Mr Hyde full throttle.

  • David Short

    Irresponsible to have these disgusting details retailed here. Very bad editorship, and I cannot understand why the owners would allow it.

  • seb

    i trust mr took will be given a right of reply.

    it’ll be interesting to hear his version of what took place.

    ms metcalf seems somewhat parti pris.

  • jo collis

    To Pat
    I have just heard your talk on weekend womans hour and very much want to say to you how much I respect and admire you for speaking out. I am sure that this has empowered other partners of abusers and relatives within families where children have been abused to also speak out. These discussions are really important and enable others to understand the restorative effects of believing children and also of supporting adults within the family to continue to draw on their emotional strengths and resources.

  • yiannis

    it makes decent men feel ashamed to called men,as for people like seb he is sick if he cant see the evil in this man.

  • Nicholas Storey

    And – Shiort and McKenzie – you are the type of cocooned well-meaning, fundamentally irresponsible modern Britons who have greatly contributed, with, McKenzie, your belief in the ‘essential goodness’ of men like Took and with, Short, your refusal to deal with unpleasant truths, to the wretched state of the nation.

  • john

    I cannot believe that this story has received so little attention.

  • David Short

    It’s an early start for me today, much to do, and I note that ‘Nicholas Storey’ wrote his comment at a late hour!

    About half an hour after what we used to call closing hour.

  • Nicholas Storey

    Well, Short, as a matter of fact, unlike you (who probably lives in some south London suburb), I live on the other side of the world – because prigs like you have made the state of the country of my birth (England) unbearable to me. Accordingly, not only is your reply to me wildly out in terms of time but it shows that, on top of everything else (and without more), your best defence is vulgar abuse.

  • Harold J. Wilson

    Charlotte, a sad revolting story but an old one. Good points made. And then there’s Belgium. By the way, the past tense of ‘wreak’ is ‘wrought.’

  • Conan McKenzie

    Mr Storey,
    Yes, I live in South London. I suppose that invalidates my views. I would note though, that although I never used the phrase ‘essential goodness,’ and I’m not sure it’s entirely appropriate when dealing with paedophiles (it’s certainly not very sensitive), that concept, and my views on the issue, are both born out of mainstream, non-liberal-left-wacky CofE Christianity, which is hardly mondern nonsence and unlikely to be responsible for the country’s current problems – quite the opposite.

    Mr Davids,
    Yes, protecting children is a must. No, we should not try to excuse paedophiles their terrible crimes. I think everyone agrees with you on those things. But allowing them to read a political magazine in prison neither compromises children’s safety nor excuses these men their crimes, but merely allows them to pursue an innocent interest and helps them to keep up with events in the outside world, which might assist with rehabilitation upon their eventual release.

    Interestingly, many of the programmes most successful in rehabilitating convicted paedophiles, and if not ‘curing’ them then at least giving them tools to help them avoid temptation, have been religious in nature, and certainly not vindictive – witness for example the highly successful ‘Circles of Support and Accountability’ scheme run by the Quakers.

  • Brita

    Why didn’t you post my post?
    I said that I consider the details in such a story to be gratuitous. Now I’ll go further and suggest that the specifics of paedophile activity are pornographic and offer vicarious pleasure to people who are inclined to the crime. The publication of material like this, therefore, encourages paedophiles and gives them ideas.

    I also suggested that people like me, who abhor this kind of writing, will: refuse to participate in societies that condone it; not read the rags that print it; not look at the books, films, and TV that propagate it; and not listen to noises that mask it. In short, we will not contribute to nightmares or to their realization.

    If this means that I have to stop reading The Spectator, then so be it. So will like-minded people, their friends, and their children.

    One last development of my suggestion — I argue that decadence breeds decadence: filth, after all, is fertilizer as well poison; but I think, also, that evil breeds resistance. That’s why London closed the theatres in the seventeenth century; and that’s why a lot of people turned into active Puritans and/or left europe. dels like our forebears may offer our only hope of clearing the pollution and finding treatments for the infection-including its source.

  • Brita

    Sorry, the computer did things…
    My last sentence was: The miasma arising from our once beautiful island thickens.

  • Brita

    Sorry again.
    That was “Models like our forebears…”

    All done.

  • Nicholas Storey

    Yes, Brita, let’s return to the oppression generated by puritanical oafs – No dancing on Sundays now!! No, George, don’t do that! (about nose-picking in public). This is not about that! This is largely about the fact that prudes and prigs refuse to confront (or are not equipped to confront) the ugly reality of modern Britain. Instead, they over-regulate the law-abiding, in order to give a semblance of overall control: meanwhile the real melefactors: the vandals, the knifemen and the paedophiliacs go, often, unconstrained. Get real. Get a grip. Pull yourself together. Even just really look around yourself.

  • Don

    This article is unworthy of The Spectator. What were Took’s actual crimes? So far as we can tell, he had pornographic images of children on his computer. It is said he sexually molested Grace. But what does molest mean here? We are told Took got the nine year old to pose for photographs. We are not toild what kind of photographs. These actions are crimes and Took deserves his punishment but they do not make Took a monster. Mixing in the obvious fantasy of internet chat rooms to suggest he might have been guilty of rape and murder is just ludicrous. It seems the principal victim in this case is Took’s wife who is offended that their friends felt more sympathy for Took than for her.

    • Medusa Jordan

      Dear me Don – you have been quoted in Dr Susan’s book of paedophiles – not positively! The court decided that the images and ‘fantasies’ were serious, and that the abuse of Grace was real. One has to wonder why you cannot accept the evidence
      I am so glad to hear that he suicided some time ago. No other children will suffer at his hands.

  • Brita

    NJS – Guess what. Weak, defenceless, and old as I am, I’m bold enough to challenge your contemptuous cliches and ad feminam approach.

    I deny that preferring pleasantness to nastiness is prudish, priggish, hysterical, or neurotic.

    I insist on my right to refuse participation in nightmares and pornography; and I protest LOUDLY when others try – physically or metaphorically – to shove filth in my face, up my nose, in my ears, or down my throat. On the other hand, I’m not prepared to waste any pearls on any swine.

    On Puritans: I referenced an earlier age of what you call ‘reality’ and I call excessive decadence – which has nothing to do with snotty noses or Sundays.

    I agree, believe it or not, that some forms of Puritanism were also excessive. If I may try to be clearer: our forebears eventually found a middle way– between James I/VI & Son and Oliver Cromwell. So why can’t we work towards one?

    Yes. Modern Britain is now as vile as everywhere else. I just wish we could clean it up before degeneracy wipes it out.

  • Anne B

    Aren’t we getting off the point here. Surely we should return to what I was writing about earlier, and that is Child Protection and Protection of Vulnerable Adults. I reiterate that the wife here was very clear in how she described the activities that her husband had got involved with without her knowledge. She took the matter to Woman’s Hour and spoke out very courageously. Good on her. And to all women who do speak up about the abuse that is inflicted on them. Anne

  • Sara

    May I repeat others’ comments – Pat is very brave to try to get more publicity in spite of the pain to herself and I hope she is successful. Please – more journalists – make mention of this terrible story or else we can only believe that the destructive class culture still exists, shaming us as a culture.

  • A. Stewart

    This is a terrible story but it has to be told however dreadful the facts are. If we do not know what is contained in these images we can have no idea of what is meant by the word “paedophilia”; if we don’t know, then we cannot properly condemn this behaviour.
    Some of the correspondents seem to be of the view that it is a “victimless” crime when consumed over the internet: just who do you think those children are figments of the imagination or what? whether children in Cambodia or Russia they are real human beings who are being savagely treated. For those who lack imagination just ask yourself this: How would I feel if it happened to me when I was only a small child? Need I say more?

    I too was molested by a family connection when I was a child, believe me when I say that you are helpless because of the tangled web of relationships and the certainty that chaos will ensue. In addition, as a child of 6 or 8 it is impossible to relate precisely what has happened in that one lacks the vocabulary to describe it accurately, one can only say that it feels “awful” and “wrong” but one has no context in which to place the events in order to report in a meaningful way what harm has been done. In my own case it didn’t become apparent to me quite how I had been abused until I was about 18 years old.

  • D Short

    I’m beginning not to be surprised by the kind of people who read The Spectator on-line.

  • Bruno

    A horrific story, but how dreadful of the Spectator to run it on its front page with such a lurid headline and image at this time? British society finally appears ready to have a discussion about the effects of our exploitative obsession with paedophillia on our nation and on our children and you have a headline ‘the devil in our midst’. Surely the timing can’t be a co-incidence as the man was sentenced months ago?
    Did anyone still believe that people like Took only came from council housing estates? And Paedophiles in the art world? Never! Ahem..Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donotelli, Schiele, Picasso…though of course any distinction between these people and sadistic psychopaths like Took would of course spoil the fun.
    Unfortunately, such men as Took will always be with us. An increasing number of us have concerns with the way that the appalling evil of such men is exploited by trashy tabloids to sell newspapers, or by feminists and child protection agencies to demonize all men and to stop 17 year old girls from stealing their men.
    I for one, will be cancelling my subscription to the Spectator magazine today.

  • Ian

    Sadly the UK is not a place that encourages care of children. A recent case involving the serial neglect of three young children which led ultimately to one of their number ‘disappearing’ has brought only huge media support for the negelcful parents – because, one assumes, of their professions.

  • amerikan

    having just stumbled onto this article i am, yet again, amazed at the ire of so many re: reading such things…turn the page, change the channel, continue on in blissful ignorance

  • Marian

    Thank you for your article hightlighting the activities of these sick people.

    Yes they are sick. No there is no “summary justice” in prisons and forensic institutions. I work with them.

    Rehabilitation is difficult because the paedophile individual cannot be treated chemically without his consent.

    Court transcripts are passed around and shared. The internet is available as is reading matter which cannot be legally monitored due to Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Speech, information and the freedom of sexuality.

    Unfortunately childhood sexual abuse is considered a “soft” crime hence the light sentences. i.e. no one is killed.

    This has been happening for centuries except now it is more subtle.

    Children and the vulnerable have always been fair game.

  • Rachel Huguenin

    I admire Pat’s bravery.

    Don,I find your attitude shocking and disgraceful.When people download internet images of child pornography,they are condoning the torture of babies and children.Anyone who,like Took,gets pleasure in viewing such material is sick and the young and vulnerable need society’s protection from such individuals.How you can claim that he has committed no crime is beyond me.He has cynically exploited the trust of a family and caused huge harm to three innocent children.Shame on you.

  • Pippa Lee

    Conan MacKenzie talks about his rights, what rights did the victims of this person have? He deserves a long slow painful death.

  • Misha Naimark

    As my name was mentioned, and my opinion, originally expressed in my private e-mail to Pat Cleary, was quoted in the article incompletely and tendentiously, I feel I must give this opinion openly in all detail. Please read my text at


    (just copy/paste this URL into the address line of your web browser)

  • Frigg

    this is so sick, i cant belive that he only got 4 and half years!
    i just picture my little sister… i dont think people realise how terrible this is!

  • Alex

    Of all mental deviances, sexual child abuse is, to my point of view, the worst. My family has lived such trauma, and it will never be over.
    It is very true that there is no punishment that would be “enough”, even I, when I think of my family’s experience do not know what to do, especially when these sick men do not show any kind of remorse. I am very sorry to say, that my first feelings are very primitives and I could easily understand if a victim or relation would seek vengeance. Unfortunately, they would turn to be the bad guy.

    My cousin had told my mum about what her dad had been doing to her for over 8 years as she was starting to be frightened for her little sister.

    My mum went to police and the family simply collapsed, we have been put apart… I was 13 years old and my family was limited to my parents, sister and brother.

    Unfortunately (or not) France (because I am French) is (or was back then) a country with a strong social structure, the officials decided not take any further action and allow the monster stay with my cousins to protect their “family core”.

    My dad almost killed his “brother”, sometimes I am glad he has not as it would be him who’d now be jailed and some other times… well…

    I admire Pat and her family, my thoughts now go to the McCann family.

    I do agree with Conan McKenzie, not all men are like Took, but I have been an au pair in Ireland for a year, looking after two young boys, and sometimes, I got some:

    “oh, you are a boy and you’re an au pair?”

    as if men could not be trusted around children, and the kids felt this pressure as well as sometimes in public, I would be rather “colder” towards them.

    Anyway, to end this, because I could go on for pages, one of points here, is that we can find any profile of human in any social environment, but what is really frightening is that because Took was using his wife’s money, he had the opportunity to go to other countries and hide his activities, he could go freely anywhere…

    Thanks to Charlotte

  • Joy Morones

    David Short,
    While you may not enjoy reading about it, it unfortunately does exist and I laud a wife that would feel for the children who are used in such a despicable way.
    The thought that an adult could use and a abuse a child is mind sickening and after reading the first part of it I really had to force myself to read it, not from some vicarious satisfaction that my kids are safe, so well all is fine, but to force myself to see how some poor kids have no future, no life, if not dead then degradation. I found the article showed a bestiality that we would all prefer to close our eyes to.

  • Michael

    We need to stop teaching children about fantasy gods, demons and devils and start teaching them that the real demons may lie behind suburban doorways. Openness and communication in families are the most important thing.

  • Michael Scott

    The first sane comment would require the question “Is it true?” to be asked. The article refers to a scene describing the ultimate horror. But is it true? What is true is that deriving any satisfaction from the depiction of such evil is in itself deeply disturbing. Nevertheless, the question must be asked, “Did the scene described of the little girl’s murder actually happen?”. Two prior cases of accusations of child sex murders, which had enormous societal implications (Gilles de Rais and the McMartin pre-school case) turned out to have been probably nonfactual, or are considered as such by many observers partly because of the absence of the remains of victimes (bones) but also because of the motivations and mental state of the accusers. In the case of Gille de Rais, the richest man in France at the time of Joan of Arc, his wealth was coveted and in the case of the Los Angeles trial the lady accuser also had a list of baby murders, black masses and witchcraft which derived from her rather disturbed imagination. Lastly,your readers should be led to reflect on the fact that evil such as we are reflecting on, has occurred in recent history, during the Ruandan genocide of 1994. Women and girls were routinely raped before being slaughtered and babies penetrated. Powerful international forces were complicit in those real horrors and public indignation on the part of an ill-informed public has thus been duly muted.

    • Medusa Jordan

      Nice bit of under stating you have done there! Not sufficient that he wrote repeatedly about the rape, torture and murder of little girls, and that he had abused Grace ‘for as long as she could remember’. These are PROVEN. Isn’t that enough?!

  • mr X

    I’m a resident at a probation hostel. Rodger killed himself last satuday. He jumped in front of a train at ealing train station. I think its wrong that its being covered up.

    • rose

      do your own exposure. See if he has family. talk to them, sorry for your loss. keep strong x

  • dekker

    killed himself last week!! whilst reading this story i didnt imagine there would be a happy ending….

  • David

    This make me feel sick. It should be made more public, and those protecting anyone involved show be exposed too. Shame the lot of them! How many of his friends are just as sick? Investigate them too.

  • Benjamin Boni

    Awful! I wouldn’t know how to start to describe how angry, seething this made me feel.
    Why is there not a link to share this on Facebook/twitter etc.

  • Perry Pez

    The Arabs and Chinese solved this problem thousand of years ago – get all pedophiles and de-sex them. If they do not want to do this do not jail them tattoo across their head I am a pedophile. Let society then deal with them in their own community because their is no real justice for the victim and they live with the terror the rest of their lives. Let the pedophile live with the tattoo the rest of their lives. If they are de-sexed it solves their problem and societies.