Griffith Vaughan Williams
Griff was born on the 9th of November 1940 in Bangor, North Wales, and was educated at a local grammar school and then at the Welsh College of Advanced Technology in Cardiff. He studied the Chartered Institute of Secretaries course and got involved in producing the college newspaper 'Impact'. From 1962 he worked for a number of magazines and provincial newspapers around the country, including the Sunderland Echo and The Northern Echo in Darlington. Later he worked in the press office at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, which he left to become a freelance journalist. After retirement he threw himself into many voluntary causes, serving on committees, attending conferences, and forever asking questions at company meetings.
Griff had been a gay activist since about 1964, and was a leading member of CHE from its very earliest days. He served for a number of years as CHE's conference organiser, and led a campaign against Scarborough council which had refused to host a CHE conference.
In 1980, Griff contributed to the research that led to CHE's publication of Attacks on Gay People by Julian Meldrum. This modest but ground-breaking pamphlet helped to expose an alarmingly high number of cases of homophobic violence and abuse in Britain, some of them perpetrated by police officers. Griff was one a of a small group of lesbian and gay activists who approached the Metropolitan Police in the early 1990s with the purpose of working in partnership with them on policing operations and methods which impacted primarily on gay men. The London Lesbian and Gay Police Initiative (LLGPI) met regularly with the Met throughout the 1990s.
In June 1999 Griff was one of a group of LGBT representatives called into New Scotland Yard for emergency meetings in the aftermath of the Admiral Duncan pub bombing. With others he advised the Met on the impact of the bombing on the LGBT community in London while the perpetrator, David Copeland, was still at large. Following the bombing in Soho, the Met decided it needed to extend its links with the LGBT communities with the formation of the LGBT Advisory Group.
Griff was one of the original members of the LGBT Advisory Group and continued to be an active member until two weeks before his death. He was particularly involved with critical incidents, mainly murders. In 2007 the LGBT Advisory Group claimed in a report that police detectives investigating murders of and violent crimes against gay men were influenced by institutional homophobia. Their LGBT Murder Review exposed the many investigations between 1990 and 2002 that were marred by lack of knowledge, reliance on gay stereotypes, and prejudice by the police .
In his final years, despite ill-health, he continued to be the driving force behind many of CHE’s activities. His final act as Secretary was to sign the contract with Peter Scott-Presland commissioning a new book about the history of CHE, a history which he had very much helped to make.
This article partly based with permission on the CHE web page: http://www.c-h-e.org.uk/griff-vw.htm