‘More than 10’ politicians on list held by police investigating Westminster ‘paedophile ring’
Whistle-blower who prompted Operation Fernbridge says up to 40 MPs and peers knew about or took part in child abuse
More than 10 current and former politicians are on a list of alleged child abusers held by police investigating claims of a Westminster paedophile ring.
MPs or peers from all three main political parties are on the list, which includes former ministers and household names.
Several, including Cyril Smith and Sir Peter Morrison, are no longer alive, but others are still active in Parliament.
The existence of the list was disclosed by Peter McKelvie, the whistleblower whose claims prompted Operation Fernbridge, the Scotland Yard investigation into allegations of a paedophile network with links to Downing Street.
Mr McKelvie, a retired child protection team manager who has spent more than 20 years compiling evidence of alleged abuse by authority figures, said he believed there was enough evidence to arrest at least one senior politician.
It comes as David Cameron ordered the most senior civil servant at the Home Office to conduct a fresh investigation into what happened to a missing dossier on alleged paedophiles in Westminster in the 1980s.
The Prime Minister told Mark Sedwill, the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, to “do everything he can” to clear up what happened to the file, which was handed to the then home secretary Leon (now Lord) Brittan by the late Geoffrey Dickens MP.
Separately Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said yesterday she would “examine the case” for a public inquiry into historical child abuse in public life, for which 139 MPs have now called.
Mr McKelvie, who helped bring the notorious paedophile Peter Righton to justice in 1992 when he worked in Hereford and Worcester child protection team, said: “I believe there are sufficient grounds to carry out a formal investigation into allegations of up to 20 MPs and Lords over the last three to four decades, some still alive and some dead. The list is there.”
In a letter to his local MP Sir Tony Baldry last month, Mr McKelvie suggested that a further 20 MPs and Lords were implicated in the “cover-up” of abuse of children. Mr McKelvie, who has compiled a dossier of evidence by speaking to alleged victims and care workers with whom they are in contact, does not suggest that any of the MPs and Lords colluded with each other.
It was as a result of information provided by Mr McKelvie that the Labour MP Tom Watson raised the issue of child abuse at Prime Minister’s Questions in October 2012. He spoke of “clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and Number 10” that arose from the Righton case.
Following Mr Watson’s intervention, the Metropolitan Police began Operation Fernbridge, an ongoing investigation into allegations of sex abuse at the Elm Guest House in Barnes, south London.
At least one witness is understood to have told police in the 1980s that he was abused by a Tory MP at the guest house when he was aged under 10, but the alleged victim has so far refused to give a sworn a witness statement to the police.
The Metropolitan Police has consistently said it is “not prepared to give a running commentary on Operation Fernbridge, which is an ongoing operation”.
Earlier this week it emerged that a dossier on an alleged Westminster paedophile network compiled by the late MP Geoffrey Dickens went missing after it was handed to the former home secretary Lord Brittan in 1983.
Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP who raised questions about the dossier, said yesterday he had received a dozen new allegations naming the same politician this week.
He and six other MPs have written to Mrs May demanding a public inquiry, and in her reply Mrs May said “nothing has been ruled out”, adding: “Once the criminal investigations have concluded, I will thoroughly examine the case for an inquiry into the matters you have raised.”
Speaking about the Dickens dossier, the Prime Minister said he understood the concerns about the missing file.
He said: “That’s why I’ve asked the permanent secretary at the Home Office to do everything he can to find answers to all of these questions and to make sure we can reassure people about these events.
“So it’s right that these investigations are made. We mustn’t do anything, of course, that could prejudice or prevent proper action by the police.
“If anyone has information about criminal wrong-doing they should, of course, give it to the police.”
Yesterday The Daily Telegraph disclosed that a senior Tory who is being investigated as part of Operation Fernbridge was allegedly stopped by a customs officer with child pornography in the 1980s.
The customs officer who made the seizure can now be named as Maganlal Solanki, 76, who said at his home in Leicester yesterday: “I don’t want to go over it all.
It’s very disturbing for me. I’ve been told not to say anything by my department.”
Asked about the senior Tory, who was never arrested over the alleged child abuse images seizure, Mr Solanki said: “Well, that is just a matter for him.”
Child abuse files were dismissed as fantasies of a deluded man
Geoffrey Dickens believed Parliament treated accusations of sex abuse lightly because influential people were involved and were determined to keep it quietTory MP Geoffrey Dickens, left, handed the dossier to Leon Brittan, who was the home secretary at the time
To MPs and Westminster journalists in the early 1980s, the disclosure that a dossier alleging an Establishment paedophile ring was presented to Leon Brittan, then home secretary, comes as no surprise.
Its purveyor was the Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens, a former heavyweight boxer and doughty investigator of what he believed to be a conspiracy to cover up sex abuse of children perpetrated by people in high places. He would have considered the apparent disappearance of the dossier as further confirmation of deliberate concealment.
Dickens, who died in 1995, became associated with the issue 14 years earlier when the magazine Private Eye disclosed that a senior diplomat and MI6 operative, Sir Peter Hayman, had escaped prosecution over the discovery of violent pornography on a London bus.
Furthermore, Hayman’s name had been withheld from a trial involving members of the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE).
The MP tabled a question to the Attorney General, Sir Michael Havers, naming Hayman under the cloak of parliamentary privilege.
In his reply, Havers confirmed that after a packet containing obscene literature and written material was found on a bus, the police uncovered “correspondence of an obscene nature” between Hayman and several other persons.
A total of seven men and two women were named as possible defendants in the report submitted by the Metropolitan Police to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The DPP decided not to prefer charges.Havers also denied there had been a deliberate decision to withhold the diplomat’s name from a trial involving leaders of PIE accused of conspiracy to corrupt public morals.“Although Sir Peter Hayman had subscribed to PIE, that is not an offence and there is no evidence that he was ever involved in the management.
At the trial, whilst there were general references to members of PIE, including, though not by name, Sir Peter Hayman, there was no reference to any material produced by him or found in his possession.”In fact, Hayman was referred to by the name of Henderson.
To Dickens this was evidence of a deliberate cover-up by the prosecutors and he proposed to take the matter further.
He called a news conference at Westminster but was told on its eve that a newspaper was about to publish a story that he was having an affair. His mistress attended the news conference, where Dickens confessed to “a skeleton in my own cupboard” and a predilection for afternoon tea dances.
His paedophile campaign ran into the buffers of derision from the press and hostility from fellow parliamentarians, some of whom denounced his use of parliamentary privilege to name Hayman and accused him of grandstanding.
It is hard to imagine today, as celebrities from that era are brought before the courts for historic sex offences, that this matter was treated so lightly by Parliament.
Dickens believed this was because influential people were involved in the abuse and were determined to shut him up.In reality, it stemmed more from a startling indifference to what was then called “kiddy fiddling”.
It was as though because it had always gone on, it was not something to get too worked up about.For his part, Dickens simply could not understand how an organisation such as PIE was allowed to exist.
He wrote to Margaret Thatcher asking for it to be banned and in November 1983 he handed a “massive dossier of evidence” to Leon (now Lord) Brittan, to press the case further. After a 30-minute meeting, Dickens claimed the home secretary “told me he would investigate all the cases in my file”.
A few months later he produced further material alleging abuse in a children’s home, which the Home Office now says is missing, presumed lost or destroyed.
Lord Brittan initially could not recollect the dossier but this week said he handed it to officials and proper action was taken.
What that was exactly is unclear; and certainly at the time, the home secretary decided against a ban on PIE and instead outlined a “three-step approach”: asking chief constables to report to him, urging the DPP to “consider” prosecuting PIE members and warning parents to keep a close eye on their children.
This prompted criticism in the press.
One editorial said: “Wait and see is not a policy – it is an excuse. Mr Brittan should respond … with a blast of rage”.Frustrated, Dickens brought a Bill before Parliament “to make it an offence to be a member of any organisation, association, society, religious sect, club or the like that holds meetings at which support is given to encourage, condone, corrupt or entice adults to have sexual relationships with children.”
He added: “Adults in every walk of life are to be found involving themselves in paedophilia. They range from some of the highest in the land to misfits.”
He pointed out that when Hayman was subsequently convicted of gross indecency in a public lavatory “there was a conspicuous silence in the House”.
When he asked Mrs Thatcher whether the convicted spy Geoffrey Prime had been involved in child abuse, she replied: “I understand that stories that the police found documents in Prime’s house or garage indicating that he was a member of PIE are without foundation.”
But this was not true. At his trial, mostly held in secret, it was disclosed that Prime had indeed been detected as a spy through child offences and was a member of PIE.
Dickens added: “I know exactly what I am up against, for I know that within the Establishment there are those who would not wish to see a change in the law.”
In the Commons in 1985, he said: “The noose around my neck grew tighter after I named a former high-flying British diplomat on the floor of the House … [and] as important names came into my possession so the threats began. First, I received threatening telephone calls followed by two burglaries at my London home.
Then, more seriously, my name appeared on a multi-killer’s hit list.”Dickens was convinced his house was burgled by MI5 but this was dismissed as the delusions of a frustrated conspiracy theorist.
At this time Westminster was rife with rumours about the involvement of senior politicians in sex abuse.
They included the Rochdale Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith, whose name was often associated with such stories.Other MPs were suspected, among them Margaret Thatcher’s parliamentary private secretary Sir Peter Morrison, who has been linked to allegations of child abuse at homes in North Wales.At one point during the 1980s, the scandal threatened to engulf the Home Office but newspapers were warned off pursuing unsubstantiated rumours.
As for Dickens, he would probably look at the climate today and wonder whether the justice currently being dealt out against some of the country’s most famous figures will finally extend to some of its most powerful as well.