19 June 2013

Why reparation is due to Charles McCreery

Throughout my life I have often seemed to be in a ‘secret court’ situation in which everyone knew that I had been condemned in some way, but without my being able to find out what it was. The same thing sometimes happened to people who became, or might have become, associates in my enterprise. As an illustration of this, the following is an extract from a letter which I wrote to the biographer of Charles McCreery’s father, General Sir Richard McCreery, about events that took place in 1965. (Some of this material was previously blogged in 2010.)

It is probable that widespread slanders had been spread about me and my incipient research institute from the time I was thrown out in 1957, but one seldom had direct evidence.

However, it happened that one of our Consultants, Graham Weddell, a physiology lecturer at Oxford, rang me a year or more after Charles McCreery had graduated in 1964, at which time he (Charles) had called a temporary halt to communication with his family so as to recover from the run-down state he had got into as a result of his mother’s constant pestering.
Invitation to Dr Charles McCreery to attend the 
Service to Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the 
Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Dr Weddell sometimes seemed a somewhat tactless person, who revealed inside information, perhaps to gain the confidence of the person to whom he was talking. On this occasion, he said, ‘They are making an awful lot of fuss about your research assistant.’

I was nonplussed and thought of various part-time workers we had employed whom I had not known very well, and wondered what any of them might have done.

‘Can’t I at least know who it is you are talking about?’

Weddell seemed to hesitate. ‘Well, he has a very important father and his father is beside himself about his drug-taking.’

‘You mean Charles McCreery, son of General McCreery?’ I said, surprised. ‘There is no question of his having ever taken drugs.’

After a bit more reiteration of this, Weddell seemed to accept it and said that it must have arisen from the association of ideas between parapsychology and drug-taking.

I had reservations about this, because when some really damaging slander or piece of hostility against us was revealed, and we gave our side of it, people always found it easy to brush it aside with, ‘Oh, it’s just the subject’ (‘the subject’ being parapsychology). Actually I thought that was a rationalisation, and the reasons for the hostility were more profound. But I went along with the idea on this occasion, partly to show that we did not regard ourselves as part of some ‘parapsychological’ population.

‘I suppose it has not helped that Steve Abrams [an American parapsychologist who had a research organisation in Oxford] has been in the papers recently,’ I said. ‘He has been going to the Home Office to tell them that marijuana ought to be legalised since he claims it is an aid to creativity for writers.’

I asked who had been saying these things about Charles, and Weddell gave me the names of three people whom Charles subsequently proceeded to tax with it by phone: Oliver Van Oss (headmaster of Charterhouse), John Butterworth (Vice-Chancellor of Warwick University) and Sir Folliott Sandford (Registrar of Oxford University).

Having had experience of such situations in the past, I advised Charles to immediately ring the people whose names I had obtained, before Weddell had time to warn them. Charles did so, and had conversations with the three people [see Charles's account of the conversations here], and finally with his father, General McCreery. Charles told his father of what he had gathered from his conversations and asked the General to account for his alleged part in the goings-on. Charles told me that, after a silence, his father answered that he refused to confirm or deny anything.

* * *

No attempt has been made by Charles’s family to reverse the financial effects of their slanders and disinheriting over the last 50 years. His brothers and sister did nothing to stop the slanders although they must have known perfectly well that they were baseless. They, and their children, have all benefited from the disinheriting.

When we heard that General McCreery’s biographer was about to start writing a book about him, we hoped that this would make Charles’s family think that they should set their house in order before attention was drawn to the General’s life, but they did not do this. Instead, both his brothers approached Charles with disingenuous attempts to embark on social interaction as if nothing had gone wrong in the past that needed to be set right.

I have suggested to the McCreerys that buying a house advertised at £500K, in the name of Charles, would indicate a wish on the part of his family to start making reparation to him for the damage to his prospects that was done, and continues to be done, by slander and disinheritance. This amount is almost certainly far less than the present value of the Chelsea flat which Charles’s mother, Lady McCreery, left to his sister in her will; a will from which Charles was excluded. Our current enquiries show that the value of such a flat at Cranmer Court in Chelsea is not less, and probably more, than £800K, this being the current market value of a one-bedroom flat there. In fact, the flat which was left to his sister appears to have had at least two bedrooms.

It should not be overlooked that, deprived of financial support as we are, the gift of a house would need to be accompanied by a gift of money which could be invested to provide for the running costs, insurance and expenses of the house. £500K in cash could be added to bring the total up to £1m. This would indicate a serious intention to start making reparation to Charles, but would still be a small fraction of the benefits which would have accrued to him over the years by investment of the inheritances of which he was unjustly deprived.