Talk:Robert Boothby, Baron Boothby

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Untitled[edit]

It is important to state hear, the extent to which Boothby participated in his obscene homosexual proclivities. He was known to be a rather bizarre kind of pervert. A good book on the man would link him to the most depraved acts of perversion, including many of the infamous gatherings set up by Ronny Kray. —Preceding unsigned comment added by KarlVKrish (talkcontribs) 23:29, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

The article does already refer to Boothby's relationship with Kray. Please keep your comments on these pages limited to specific constructive suggestions for how to improve the article, and kindly keep your personal opinions about the subject to yourself. Wikipedia has standards for civility, and you are not adhering to them. - Jason A. Quest (talk) 03:09, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

I thing he should also be in the Category:LGBT politicians from England, as his Scottish background was not obvious. 31.52.28.76 (talk) 04:39, 19 October 2013 (UTC)

Article's reference to Lord Goodman raises concerns[edit]

The article has been stating that journalists who investigated Robert (Lord) Boothby were subject to "break-ins and other forms of harrassment directed by Arnold [Lord] Goodman". I have edited the sentence to make more of a distinction between the break-ins (I cannot picture Lord Goodman as commanding a corps of burglars) and the "other forms of harassment". I don't have access to the television program that is cited as the reference for this claim. It might in any case be helpful to be clearer what those "other forms of harassment" were. As a leading solicitor, I suppose Goodman might have written letters warning journalists about the laws of libel. I cannot picture him threatening to shoot off people's knee-caps. Nandt1 (talk) 23:10, 11 November 2011 (UTC)

I've looked into it. The original addition to text was made by 193.120.116.185 on 16 February 2009: "In a documentary broadcast by Channel 4, made by Richard Bond, titled "The Gangster and the Pervert Peer", it is claimed that journalists who investigated Boothby were subjected to break-ins and other harassment, and that much of this suppression was directed by Arnold Goodman."
I've now watched the documentary. The claim about the break-in was made by the journalist John Pearson and relates to an event in 1972. Goodman (along with Driberg and Boothby), is directly accused of being behind the cover-up, which allegedly extended to two burglaries, i.e. criminal activity. Below is a transcript of the relevant claims made in the broadcast:
START EXCERPT
NARRATOR: Pearson spent the next three years interviewing Kray associates and writing his book, while slowly piecing together the facts about the peer and the gangster.
JOHN PEARSON: I showed it to my publisher and also I checked it through—as I'd been seeing Boothby—I checked it through with him. Everything totally collapsed at that point. The next thing was that Lord Goodman was on the phone to my publisher, saying, "I think you should know that this is highly libellous and dangerous and we will proceed against you." Next thing I knew, the book was rejected.
NARRATOR: Eight years after the scandal, Goodman was still suppressing the story, and it wasn't just Pearson's book that was cancelled.
JOHN PEARSON: The Observer, who were going to serialise the book, also rejected it, and I wondered why at the time, and then I discovered that the Chairman of the Observer Trust was none other than the blessed Arnold Goodman.
NARRATOR: Pearson believes the cover-up even extended to burglary.
JOHN PEARSON: Shortly after the Observer fiasco, we'd been on holiday and came back and found that the house had been turned over by some spooks or someone who'd been in, and a whole file of stuff I had—letters and photographs of Boothby—had disappeared. But also—and this is, you know, absolutely true—my agent told me shortly after that her office had been turned over, too, and, surprise, surprise, the file on Boothby had gone. Now, if you're getting this sort of top-level, dirty work, what can you do? I thought it was, you know, a good world, in which if you told the truth you shamed the devil. It doesn't work like that in England, though.
NARRATOR: While Pearson was silenced and deprived of his living as an author, the Establishment figures behind the cover-up went from strength to strength. Arnold Goodman, the lawyer who kept the scandal out of the press for over ten years, became Lord Goodman. MP Tom Driberg was also given a peerage, while Bob Boothby continued to be an outspoken member of the House of Lords until his death in 1986. It wasn't until all three were dead that John Pearson was finally able to publish his story, yet the links between the Krays and the Establishment have still not been fully disclosed.
END EXCERPT
So the accusation against Goodman (along with Driberg and Boothby) has been made, and the wording probably ought to reflect that. Lachrie (talk) 14:36, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
This excerpt actually confirms my feeling that, if we are going to discuss these accusations at all, our language should be very careful indeed. Read the excerpt again, carefully. The only direct action that can be attributed to Goodman is -- rather as I assumed -- one phone call to a publisher warning about a potential action for libel. Solicitors make these calls on behalf of their clients from time to time -- it is part of their job. Everything else is speculative. Goodman was chair of the Observer trust and the Obsever rejects Pearson's book. Is there a connection? Maybe, maybe not, we really can't tell from this text (maybe the editors had second thoughts). And there is nothing at all in the text that even begins to make a connection between Goodman and the burglaries.
Should these charges be covered at all? I am not certain they should. To this reader, at least, there is at least a whiff of paranoia about some of Mr. Pearson's language. Should we be giving it legs? Nandt1 (talk) 01:57, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
I don't really see a problem with the existing text. A television documentary broadcast on a national network would normally be considered a reliable source, really more so than any ordinary single item in a newspaper. The documentary was widely reviewed in the press. In the reviews I've read, the factualness of the documentary wasn't questioned. Goodman is explicitly named by the documentary makers as one of 'the Establishment figures behind the cover-up', and the alleged cover-up extended to burglaries. Goodman's role in the alleged cover-up was the most prominent. The article mentions the allegation. The allegation is serious and it's on the public record. It's not potentially libellous as all three persons accused are now deceased. The existing text fairly reflects the fact of the allegation. We're not in a position to diagnose the journalist Pearson's mental condition, nor should we be attempting to do so. I don't think we should be in the business of trashing Pearson's reputation just to protect the late Lord Goodman's. For our purposes, what's relevant is that the documentary makers found Pearson credible. We don't have to make an independent assessment of the allegation's veracity, just note that it's been made. Lachrie (talk) 03:23, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
The accusation explicitly made by the documentary makers is that Goodman was one of the figures behind the cover-up. I'm not sure your revised wording adequately reflects that. Lachrie (talk) 03:37, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
OK. I've added the connection that Pearson made between the Observer's rejection of his book and Goodman's position on the Observer trust. Based on the quotation above there is nothing specific beyond this on Goodman's role. I don't know what "being one of the figures beyond the cover-up" translates to in terms of specific conduct? I have not yet seen anything that would justify a WP article implying a leading lawyer's complicity in burglary. Nandt1 (talk) 03:57, 14 November 2011 (UTC) P.S., I cannot quite help being amused that I was myself recently accused by an editor at another location (Harold Macmillan) of "speculation" -- something I have duly taken care of at that location. "Speculation" does seem to raise its head in all sorts of locations, and I think we have a danger of it here over Lord Goodman's role! Nandt1 (talk) 04:36, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
The source doesn't specifically exclude Goodman from the cover-up (which included the alleged burglaries), so nor should we. You're over-interpreting the evidence rather than faithfully reporting it as is. Your change will probably have to be reverted on that basis. Just to make clear, Pearson isn't our source. The documentary is our source. So the allegation isn't limited to Pearson's own statements, but extends to the voice-over narration. I see you've reined in your speculation about the circumstances of Sarah Macmillan's paternity, but the detailed coverage still seems excessive, giving it undue weight in such a brief article, and so it probably ought to be reverted as well. Lachrie (talk) 04:53, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
I find it very worrying indeed to argue that "The source doesn't specifically exclude Goodman from the cover-up (which included the alleged burglaries), so nor should we." I don't have the advantage of access to any more of the script of the documentary thna you have made available here. But to argue that Goodman should be implicated in "the cover-up (which included the alleged burglaries)" unless a source specifically excludes him is an appalling standard to set! It is one thing to talk about Goodman being involved in a cover-up, but what specific claims has anyone made about Goodman in respect of the burglaries? -- as opposed to doing things lawyers often do like writing warning letters. Saying that Pearson (or for that matter the editors of the program) do not exclude him really is not the right standard! (Signed by Nandt1 & split out by Lacrhie from linked text on Macmillan issue).
No, the source doesn't specifically exclude Goodman from the cover-up (which is what you're attempting to do) because it explicitly includes Goodman in the cover-up. The original wording better reflected the scope of the allegations. What's worrying is that you're selectively reinterpreting the source to say less than it actually does, apparently merely in order to protect Goodman, by falsely minimising the extent of his alleged involvement. On that basis, we should revert to the previous text, and I will certainly do so if no better objection is forthcoming. Lachrie (talk) 05:42, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

I think it would be helpful to get some Third Party input at this stage. As background, the source actually available to me (and, I guess, most other readers) at this stage constitutes the text that Lachrie has printed above between START EXCERPT and END EXCERPT.

So here is the original article text that Lachrie has defended above:

Journalists who investigated Boothby himself were reportedly subjected to break-ins and other harassment, directed by Arnold Goodman.

Here is the revised text I have submitted.

A journalist named John Pearson, who researched a book about the Krays and Boothby, stated during a Channel 4 documentary that his publisher had been warned by the lawyer Arnold Goodman that, if the book was published, Goodman's client would sue for libel. Pearson added that his book had been turned down for publication by The Observer at a time when Goodman was Chairman of the Observer Trust. Pearson also stated that his own home and that of his agent had been broken into, and material on Boothby removed.

From the exchanges above, readers will see (a) my concern that the original text goes beyond the source, and (b) Lachrie's concern that I am seeking to cover-up Lord Goodman's involvement.

Could we please receive Third Party comment at this stage. Nandt1 (talk) 06:07, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

Now I see you're misrepresenting me as well as the documentary, however unwittingly. In fact I wouldn't support either version of the text you posted above. To avoid unnecssary confusion, I've taken the liberty of striking through the text erroneously supposed to have my support. I'd be happier with the text as it was before you modified it today:
"It has been claimed that journalists who investigated Boothby were subjected to break-ins and other harassment, and that much of this suppression was directed by Arnold Goodman."
I think that's a fairer reflection of the accusation actually made in the source, which blames Goodman for orchestrating the cover-up (on behalf of and perhaps along with the two politicians Driberg and Boothby), and further alleges that the said cover-up extended to two burglaries as well as extraordinary legal threats. As a summary it's brief but more accurate. Lachrie (talk) 06:54, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
Apologies for missing the (to me, quite minor) change you had made prior to saying "I don't really see a problem with the existing text."
This said, we clearly disagree over whether it is a fairer reflection:
(a) To identify the source of the relevant charges (Pearson speaking in the TV program), or to leave that undefined in the text.
(b) To speak of jounalists (plural), when the source you have shared with us so far seems to refer only to one (again, Pearson, named in the second quote).
(c) To speak vaguely of "other harassment" (and to do so after speaking of burglaries, which probably makes it sound more sinister), rather than identifying specifically that we are talking about a solicitor's phone call and the possibility (no more) of influence over a newspaper's publication decision.
(d) Worst of all, to imply Goodman's involvement in the larger campaign, including the burglaries, when the source itself does not in fact make that accusation, rather than stating clearly the specific actions that the source actually lays against Goodman specifically.
(e) Summing up, it seems to me that the reader of the second text would emerge with a much clearer, more transparent picture of the allegations as to fact that are set out in the source than a reader of the first, and I take such clarity and transparency to be WP's goal.
Anyway, let's try again. I am happy to ask for Third Party review of the following two texts:
(1) "It has been claimed that journalists who investigated Boothby were subjected to break-ins and other harassment, and that much of this suppression was directed by Arnold Goodman."
(2) "A journalist named John Pearson, who researched a book about the Krays and Boothby, stated during a Channel 4 documentary that his publisher had been warned by the lawyer Arnold Goodman that, if the book was published, Goodman's client would sue for libel. Pearson added that his book had been turned down for publication by The Observer at a time when Goodman was Chairman of the Observer Trust. Pearson also stated that his own home and that of his agent had been broken into, and material on Boothby removed.
Without input from others, the prospect of progress here appears dim! Nandt1 (talk) 12:05, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

For personal reasons, Nandt1 will not be in a position to edit on Wikipedia for the next month. He respectfully asks his fellow editors to edit responsibly, on this and other articles, during his absence from the scene. Nandt1 (talk) 13:26, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

Sorry, we can't wait that long, and most of your fellow editors do try to edit responsibly, which is why I've been pointing out the what I consider to be flaws in your approach. Here's the rebuttal:
(a) The documentary source isn't remarkable enough to require a mention in the main text. A footnote is sufficient.
(b) I presume the other journalists would be those on the Observer who were pressured into dropping the serialisation.
(c) For clarity we can replace "break-ins and other harrassment" with "legal threats and break-ins".
(d) The documentary does make the allegation that Goodman was involved in the larger campaign of suppression; the campaign included burglaries. So it would be misleading to do as you suggest and to leave him out.
(e) By minimising Goodman's alleged involvement in the campaign, your version distorts the historical record, and its excessive length also gives it undue weight in the article, so I have no compunction about restoring the previous version, with a minor amendment to address your concern for clarity. Lachrie (talk) 06:13, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
If there is any primary evidence in the documentary that creates a link between Goodman and the burglaries, it would be very appropriate of you to share it with the rest of us here and now, since you appear to have access either to the documentary or to a transcript. If no evidence is offered of such a link, it is unclear why WP should publish suggestive innuendo wrapped in non-transparent phrasing. Why do I call it this? Because instead of clearly distinguishing the legal steps (in which we know Goodman to have had a hand) from the illegal steps (for which we are still waiting for any evidence of Goodman's involvement), your formulation wraps up the legal and illegal into one campaign of suppression and says that Goodman was involved in running the campaign. One frankly cannot help wondering whether you know how to write clearly but (perhaps due to ulterior motives) choose not to do so, or just never knew how to write clearly in the first place.
There is other loose reasoning above, which (as I've explained) I don't have time to deal with in detail, but -- as just one example -- for an editor with access to the source to have to "presume" what this or that statement he has just reinstated is supposed to mean (e.g., that "journalists who investigated Boothby" is to be read as a reference to "editors who contemplated publishing material by one journalist who investigated Boothby") suggests a murky understanding of our responsibility here. If you don't know what the language you have reinstated means, why prefer it to the alternative of just stating clearly what is in the source? Nandt1 (talk) 14:40, 15 November 2011 (UTC) Nandt1 (talk) 22:45, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
None of these objections hold up. To repeat, the explicit claim of Goodman's involvement is made in the broadcast documentary, as shown in the transcript above, and cited appropriately in the article.
The article text attempts to summarise the claims made in the documentary; it's a slight revision of material added by another user almost two years ago. The Observer editorial staff were journalists too, the newspaper was responsible for what it did or did not publish, and the material would necessarily have been vetted as part of the approval process. I'm sure the current wording could be further improved, though certainly not on the lines previously suggested by Nandt1, who must be unfamiliar with WP policy, and is strangely unwilling to take on board the findings in the documentary, which he has sought to misprepresent. Since his intention here appears to be merely obfuscatatory, I believe his complaint can be safely disregarded, for the reasons already explained.
The source for the claim of Goodman's involvement in the cover-up is the documentary broadcast by Channel Four in 2009. That's quite satisfactory, as we're only relaying the accusation, made in a secondary source of sufficient reliability. We don't need a primary source. A secondary source is actually to be preferred, since it relieves us of the responsibility of coming to any conclusion ourselves.
Independently assessing the veracity of the allegation obviously isn't our task, and would probably require original research, which isn't allowed. However, if anybody can find a reliable source challenging the claim made by the documentary, we should include that as well. I think that would be the only proper remedy, not the wilful misrepresentation of the documentary's claim on the lines wrongly proposed by Nandt1. Lachrie (talk) 04:38, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
For all of the huffing and puffing here, the simple fact is that Lachrie's editing is abusive and serves to obscure what is in the source (at least as shared with us here) not to clarify it. Lachrie continues evasive over any explicit presentation in the source of evidence of a connection between Goodman and the burglaries. Strongly suggestive of a hidden agenda. Nandt1 (talk) 12:20, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
I've tried to be patient. I've painstakingly examined your objections, but as I've explained, repeatedly, in my opinion none of them has merit. As shown above, the documentary directly accuses Goodman of being behind the cover-up. The cover-up included burglaries. All the necessary evidence has been presented fully and unambiguously above. The same source was already cited in the text years before you started to rewrite the article, rather carelessly, without even bothering to consult the source you were claiming to evaluate. I've gone out of my way to be helpful, beyond the call of duty, tracing the source documentary, viewing it from beginning to end, and even providing a transcript of the relevant section for everybody's benefit. I've also looked through thirty press reports about the documentary; no reviewer challenged its conclusions; on the contrary, the coverage was overwhelmingly positive. Incredibly, you respond to my generosity and dedication with insults and an irrelevant ad hominem argument, accusing me of bad faith. It's bizarre and inappropriate. Anybody could be accused of having an agenda, including yourself, but we can only argue on the facts. Lachrie (talk) 12:53, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
You have been asked repeatedly to present one iota of evidence of any direct connection between Goodman and the burglaries. Instead you have blustered. At this stage, the situation is simple. You need to "Put up or shut up". Nandt1 (talk) 13:08, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
The claim is in the transcript of the cited documentary. That's all the evidence required. Lachrie (talk) 13:22, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
The transcript as shared with us here establishes no such link. That is the whole point! Nandt1 (talk) 13:34, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
I repeat, the transcript names Goodman as one of 'the Establishment figures behind the cover-up'. 'Pearson believes the cover-up even extended to burglary.' It's not our responsibility to dig for evidence that establishes a direct link between Goodman and the break-ins. It's enough to cite a reliable source for the allegation that he was 'behind the cover-up', i.e., the documentary. Lachrie (talk) 13:43, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
It is, though, our responsibility to use language that is clear in what it is saying and not opaque. So we come back to the fact that amalgamating everything into an amorphous "cover-up" represents a less-transparent accounting than itemizing the specific actions involved: 1. A solicitor's phone call (obvious link to AG); 2. Influence on an editorial decision (source suggests but does not document a link to AG); 3. Burglary (source neither states nor documents any link to AG). In particular the amalgamation into "the cover-up" muddies the question of whether AG is or is not accused of complicity in illegal actions. Why would anyone editing an encyclopedia prefer a less-transparent account to a more transparent account? Beats me!! Nandt1 (talk) 14:04, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
We can only be as specific as the source. Since the source doesn't make any such distinction, you can't just make one up because you feel like it. The source accuses Goodman of being behind the cover-up. Lachrie (talk) 14:14, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
I cannot believe that you are reading the same text as me. The source makes specific statements on 1 and 2 and is silent on 3. Nandt1 (talk) 14:27, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
It's irrelevant: you're making a false distinction, since the source accuses Goodman of being behind the cover-up. Lachrie (talk) 14:53, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
This will have to be parting shot, I fear. I do however note that, from formerly claiming that the source does not make the distinction between 1, 2, and 3, your new position seems to be that, even if the source makes the distinction, this is irrelevant to your stand on what the article should say. Murky language, to repeat, is preferred to clarity. Why? Who knows? Nandt1 (talk) 15:20, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
You're trying to twist my words again, just as you try to twist the words of the source. The source doesn't make a distinction between these acts and responsibility for the cover-up. It's a false distinction you've invented yourself. Lachrie (talk) 15:38, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
In the unlikely event that any other readers ever make their way through this exchange, I can only appeal to them -- as objective third parties -- to read the source above with some care and attention to detail, and to decide for themselves which of us in his proposed text for the article has made a sincere effort to capture in clear, unambiguous text what the source actually says about Goodman's role. Nandt1 (talk) 16:36, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
Be careful what you wish for. Fine flourishes aside, objective third parties aren't going to approve of your mangling of sources. Yours must be the longest leave-taking ever. If you ever do come back, I hope your future contributions will be more constructive. Lachrie (talk) 06:08, 17 November 2011 (UTC)

With some regret, my one month's absence from editing Wikipedia actually has to start now. I leave with some concern as to what I will find when I return. Nandt1 (talk) 14:36, 16 November 2011 (UTC)

It will be much the same as it was. You needn't be so dramatic. Lachrie (talk) 14:53, 16 November 2011 (UTC)

Boothby & Paternity of putative Macmillan daughter[edit]

(Proposing to separate this discussion, already split out from above exchange)

On Macmillan we seem to have a fundamental disagreement about the materiality of a leading (and according to many, psychologically sensitive) politican fearing throughout his adult life that one of his putative daughters might not in fact be his own flesh and blood. Surely our readers are adults who can be allowed to consider this evidence, outlined succinctly as I have sought to do, for themselves? Nandt1 (talk) 05:21, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

There's no actual evidence to support a lasting psychological effect on Macmillan from his wife's affair, let alone one from the uncertain paternity. All there is is speculation. We have grounds to mention the affair in the personal section; but within that, the question about paternity is actually marginal, and to belabour it would rather obviously be to give it undue weight, so the elaboration will probably have to come out on that basis. Lachrie (talk) 05:42, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

For more on this exchange see Talk page for Harold Macmillan. Nandt1 (talk) 14:36, 16 November 2011 (UTC)

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