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Cyril Smith child sex abuse inquiry ‘scrapped after his arrest’

Published March 17, 2015 by JS2

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Claims that police officers were ordered to hand over evidence are ‘very credible and very frightening’

The Metropolitan Police are facing fresh allegations after it was revealed that an undercover police investigation that gathered evidence of child abuse by MP Cyril Smith was scrapped shortly after his arrest.

The Liberal MP, who died in 2010, was arrested for his alleged involvement in sex parties with teenage boys in south London during the 1980s, a former police officer told BBC Newsnight.

During a three-month secret inquiry into a high-profile child sex abuse ring, police collected compelling video evidence of men abusing boys as young as 14, the source said.

Newsnight was also told that police had evidence that a senior member of Britain’s intelligence agencies and two high-ranking police officers took part in the abuse.

The inquiry is reported to have led to a house in Streatham, where Smith and several others were arrested. Newsnight alleges he was released just hours later without charge.

The decision to scrap the inquiry was made by a high-ranking police officer, whom the undercover team had no prior contact with, the source alleges.

“Officers were then ordered to hand over all their evidence – including notebooks and video footage – and were warned to keep quiet about the investigation or face prosecution under the Official Secrets Act,” reports The BBC’s Nick Hopkins.

Former Scotland Yard detective Clive Driscoll has described the claims as “very credible and very frightening”.

“Smith was being protected by some fairly powerful people […] because he knew of other paedophiles in the networks in which he operated,” said Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who has worked to expose Cyril Smith as a prolific paedophile.

This latest revelation comes just hours after the police watchdog announced that it would be beginning an investigation into claims that the Met Police covered up child sex offences because of the involvement of high-level politicians and police officers.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has described the allegations as “historic, high-level corruption of the most serious nature”.

The police force refused to comment on the recent allegations, but said that it was investigating allegations that police officers “acted inappropriately” in relation to historic child abuse investigations. It urged anyone with information to come forward.

Met Police probed over claims it covered up child sex abuse

16 March

An investigation has begun into claims that the Metropolitan police covered up child sex offences because of the involvement of high level politicians and police officers, the police watchdog has announced.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is looking into 16 allegations of high-level corruption in the force from the 1970s to 2005.

“These allegations are of historic, high-level corruption of the most serious nature,” said deputy chairman of the IPCC, Sally Green. “Allegations of this nature are of grave concern and I would like to reassure people our commitment to ensuring that the investigations are thorough and robust.

The investigation will look at claims that London’s police force suppressed evidence and hindered or halted investigations because of the involvement of MPs and police officers.

The list of allegations being investigated include claims that:

  • Police officers sexually abused a young boy and then carried out surveillance on him
  • Surveillance of a child abuse ring was shut down because of “high-profile people being involved”
  • A document, which originated from within the Houses of Parliament, was discovered at a paedophile’s address and listed a number of high-level individuals as being involved in a paedophile ring, but no further action was taken.

The Metropolitan police told the BBC that the force had voluntarily referred the cases to the IPCC because it “recognised the severity of the allegations and the importance of understanding whether or not our officers had in the past acted inappropriately”.

It also said that its ongoing investigations and recent convictions have shown that the service is “fully committed” to investigating non-recent allegations of sexual abuse.

The Week

Fred Talbot sexual abuse in Scotland investigated

Published February 15, 2015 by JS2

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Police have been investigating allegations involving offences said to have been committed in Scotland by former TV weatherman Fred Talbot.

Talbot, who was born in Edinburgh, was found guilty in Manchester yesterday of two indecent assaults on teenage boys.

The victims had been pupils at a grammar school where Talbot was a teacher in the 1970s.

Police Scotland yesterday confirmed that it has been examining claims Talbot committed similar offences in Scotland.

The Crown Office has not received a full prosecution report.

Talbot was yesterday remanded in custody shortly after a jury found him guilty of indecently assaulting two pupils at the Altrincham Grammar School for Boys in the mid-1970s during his former career as a biology teacher.

Talbot, 65, had resigned in disgrace from the school in 1984 after making indecent comments to two 15-year-old pupils but hid the indiscretion when his big TV break came a year later.

He continued to cover his tracks when police first investigated him in 1992 and lied again to detectives in the current investigation when they uncovered a host of diaries which were littered with references to sexual encounters.

Talbot looked surprised as Judge Timothy Mort told him his sentence would start immediately but politely nodded to the jury of nine women and three men at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court as he left the dock. He will be sentenced next month but is also the subject of a historical abuse inquiry by police into complaints of offences said to have been committed in Scotland. It is understood the procurator fiscal is aware.

The jury in Manchester heard that Talbot’s modus operandi was to first establish his “good guy credentials” and then to break down the proper teacher-pupil boundaries, leaving his victims confused as he made his advances.

Prosecutor Neil Usher said he was “a weak and selfish man who regularly drank too much” and this led to temptation when boys were in his care.

Both of Talbot’s victims, said to be 14 or 15 at the time, were assaulted on school trips on a canal barge in the Cheshire area in the mid-1970s.

Each boy was told they had to share a bed with Talbot because there were not enough single bunk beds and each was then abused by him as they slept in a partitioned area.

One of them said he was drunk when he took part in a mock naked “orgy” staged by Talbot and involving up to 10 other boys on the barge, in which some of the youngsters pretended to be girls.

Among the prosecution witnesses at the four-week trial were Stone Roses singer Ian Brown who said Talbot gave masturbation practice as homework.

Brown said he remembered two or three biology lessons given by Talbot when he was an 11-year-old boy.

The witness said: “Very early at school, I would not have been there a long time, Mr Talbot asked all the class if any of us had ever masturbated.

“He went on to explain how to masturbate, how you should masturbate and the following lesson he asked who had masturbated.”

Brown said Talbot also showed a gay porn film in another class.

The court heard that Talbot’s teaching career came to a swift end in May 1984 following an indecent proposal he made to two pupils at his home.

He offered his bed for the night to the 15-year-old boys and said to them: “Make sure you leave room for me in the middle.”

Talbot, who denied 10 counts of indecent assault, will be sentenced on 13 March.

The Scotsman

Huge rise in sexual abuse of hospital patients as police figures show 1,600 attacks in three years

Published January 1, 2015 by JS2
  • Total of 1,615 sex abuse reports received by UK police forces since 2011
  • Data, released under Freedom of Information, includes 157 reports of rape
  • Met Police accounted for 20 per cent of all reports with 141 alleged attacks 
  • Shadow minister for public health said immediate review was necessary 

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Police figures reveal a huge rise in the number of sexual abuse reports received from hospital patients, with 1,600 attacks recorded in the last three years.

Data from 38 out of 45 police forces across the UK reveals a 50 per cent increase in reports of sexual violence in NHS hospitals, private clinics and health centres since 2011.

The figures, released following a Freedom of Information request by the Guardian, show there were a total of 1,615 alleged attacks, which included 157 reports of rape. A small number reportedly relate to historic assaults which occurred before 2011.

Data from Metropolitan Police showed the force received 17 reports of rapes and 124 reports of other sexual offences, accounting for 20 per cent of all reports, with mental health patients being particularly vulnerable.

One victim, a mental health patient, described psychiatric hospitals as a ‘playground for predators’, and said she was raped up to 60 times by a member of staff.

The woman, who was groomed with gifts from the senior staff member, said she only built up the courage to speak out about the abuse after she was released from Little Brook Hospital in Dartford, Kent.

Remaining anonymous, she told the BBC earlier this year how she was admitted to the hospital after a breakdown.

She said: ‘At times I was on a very heavy amount of Valium, not to where I was unconscious, but the sedative combined with my already defeated self, I was like putty. He would pull the covers back, do what he had to do and leave, all very quickly. I didn’t move.’

She said she couldn’t ‘believe how it could have been so frequent and not picked up on.’ She eventually received £100,000 compensation and her attacker received a suspended jail sentence.

At the time, Kent and Medway NHS Trust said it was unable to comment because the offences occurred under the previous regime.

Doctor Myles Bradbury, 41, (pictured) was jailed for 22 years earlier this month after sexually abusing desperately ill boys in his care at a specialist unit

Another victim told how she was groomed by her mental health support officer for five months, but he resigned before a police investigation concluded and authorities were unable to take action against him.

Earlier this year, Doctor Myles Bradbury, 41, admitted sexually abusing 18 desperately ill boys under his care at a specialist unit.

The court heard how the disgraced doctor targeted the boys – all of whom were ‘really poorly’ and vulnerable – in his private consulting room.

He would tell their parents they should leave the room in case their children got embarrassed, before sexually touching them for his own gratification and telling them it was a ‘legitimate examination’.

Bradbury, from Herringswell, near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, was suspended from Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge last November after a victim’s parents raised concerns with staff.

He was jailed for 22 years at Cambridge Crown Court earlier this month, after pleading guilty to 25 offences against boys aged 10 to 16, including sexual assault, voyeurism and possessing more than 16,000 indecent images.

Luciana Berger, shadow minister for public health, said the new figures were worrying and demanded that ministers order an immediate review of security.

She told the Guardian‘s Martin Williams: ‘A zero-tolerance approach to sexual abuse must be pursued in the NHS.

‘All victims should feel safe to come forward and every incident properly dealt with by the police, courts and health service, to ensure every perpetrator is brought to justice.’

Mind, a mental health charity, said it was ‘completely unacceptable that sexual abuse was so prevalent within mental health units’.

In a statement, Nat Miles, senior policy and campaigns officer, said: ‘Many people told us they are often seen as vulnerable and therefore an easy target by perpetrators, and are more easily discredited and less likely to be taken seriously if they report a crime.

‘Too often, crimes on wards are dealt with internally and not reported to police. It’s vital that frontline staff are adequately trained, so crimes are taken seriously, and dealt with quickly and appropriately.’

An NHS England spokesman said: ‘It is of course essential that both NHS and independent hospitals do everything to ensure that patients are safe and feel safe in their premises, and where concerns arise the police must be able to bring to bear the full force of the law.’

Emma Glanfield

How sick Denning tried to defend himself: Paedophile DJ claimed spending teenage years as rent boy and desire not to be lonely fuelled his crimes during 2001 interview

Published December 18, 2014 by JS2
  • Chris Denning gave interview in Prague after spending three years in jail
  • Former BBC man, 73, sexually abused underage boys in Czech Republic
  • Said at time: ‘What am I supposed to do? Live my whole life on my own?’
  • Yesterday, Denning was jailed for 13 years in London for other assaults

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A disturbing interview by Chris Denning – in which he described himself as a ‘bizarre person’ – emerged last night as the former BBC DJ was jailed for sexual assault.

The 73-year-old paedophile gave the interview in Prague in 2001 after spending more than three years in jail for sexually abusing underage boys in the Czech Republic.

Before leaving Pankrác Prison in the city, he tried to defend himself by claiming that his crimes were fuelled by a desire not to be lonely and spending his teenage years as a rent boy.

Speaking to reporter James Pitkin of The Prague Post, he said: ‘It’s just what happened. And what am I supposed to do? Live my whole life on my own? I wasn’t prepared to do that.

He added: ‘If anyone could prove that this hurts anyone, I would never do it again and I never would have done it in the first place. They base their prejudice on pseudo-science and preposterous notions.

‘I think the root of my condition, if you can call it that, is that I only felt comfortable with boys who wanted to do the same thing. That’s where the guilt comes in, because I felt I was a dirty boy.’

Denning said he was a male prostitute from the age of 13 and often formed lasting friendships with boys.

But he was sent to prison for four years for the sexual abuse of eight boys in Prague in 1997, with a court hearing that he paid the children, all under the local age of consent of 15, for sex acts.

Paid local boys for sex acts: Denning (left) is escorted by a justice guard to a court hearing in the Czech Republic in March 2000, three years after he was jailed for the sexual abuse of eight boys in Prague in 1997

Paid local boys for sex acts: Denning (left) is escorted by a justice guard to a court hearing in the Czech Republic in March 2000, three years after he was jailed for the sexual abuse of eight boys in Prague in 1997

The interview in the English-language newspaper was reprinted in full by The Independent today.

Yesterday, Denning was jailed at Southwark Crown Court in central London for 13 years for sexually assaulting 24 boys – including one allegedly at Jimmy Savile’s house.

Denning, one of the founding presenters on Radio One, ‘used the allure of the record industry and celebrity’ to seduce and groom his victims.

He took boys to watch Top of the Pops recordings and introduced them to stars including Savile. He began assaulting the boys in 1967 – the same year he was unveiled as one of the founding DJs.

Court sketch: Denning was jailed at Southwark Crown Court in central London yesterday for 13 years for sexually assaulting 24 boys - including one allegedly at Jimmy Savile's house

Court sketch: Denning was jailed at Southwark Crown Court in central London yesterday for 13 years for sexually assaulting 24 boys – including one allegedly at Jimmy Savile’s house

And he continued his campaign of abuse against boys as young as 10 for two decades. He later opened computer games shops and used the ‘exceptionally exciting’ technology to prey on boys.

Denning, of Basildon, Essex, stared at his victims and their families – who had travelled from all over the country to see justice done – as he strolled into the dock for the sentencing.

The former DJ, who suffers from a string of health problems including Parkinson’s, admitted 40 assaults – 36 counts of indecent assault on a male and four indecent assaults on a child.

He has a string of convictions for sex offences on boys. The case was brought under Operation Yewtree, the police inquiry set up in the wake of the Savile scandal.

Mark Durell

From Thorpe to paedophile MPs to torture, the ruling elite ALWAYS try to cover up their sins. That is why bids to constrain the media are so insidious

Published December 13, 2014 by JS2
  • Tom Mangold was first journalist to learn about Jeremy Thorpe conspiracy
  • He believes Special Branch and Scotland Yard were well aware of the truth
  • But they instinctively knew how to cover up a scandal to protect the MP
  • Mr Mangold received calls from other Liberals warning him off the story 
  • He believes the ‘right’ judge was hand-picked for the sensitive Thorpe trial 
  • Mr Mangold was ordered to destroy his evidence or told he would be fired 
  • Whitehall did not want another homosexual scandal incase it damaged Britain’s relationship with the U.S

At the height of the controversy about Jeremy Thorpe and the conspiracy of silence that grew around his apparent involvement in a plot to kill his former lover Norman Scott, we began making a documentary film about the story for BBC television.

Little did I realise I, too, would soon become an unwitting figure in that conspiracy.

Our team had pitched the idea, in 1979, to an editor who later became the Corporation’s powerful Head of News. He agreed to our investigation but demanded to know absolutely everything we were doing. ‘Keep me in the picture, boys,’ he said, amicably, time and again.

Many years later, at his funeral, it emerged that this man had been a colonel in British Military Intelligence in the Territorial Army.

With the benefit of hindsight, it now becomes more than a mere suspicion that we investigative journalists at the cutting edge of the story were being gently manipulated by others in powerful positions — people who were anxious to know how much information there was about the developing scandal, how accessible it was, and what could be done to shut it down.

After all, how much easier to use unwitting real reporters than get spooks to pose as reporters to dig for information.

At the time, former Liberal party leader Jeremy Thorpe was a well-connected and charismatic politician from a social class that dominated the Whitehall establishment and Civil Service in those days back in the Seventies.

I believe I was the first journalist to learn Thorpe may have been involved in a conspiracy to silence one of his former gay lovers, Norman Scott, a stable boy from the West Country, who was needy, self-centred and dangerous.

When Thorpe ended their affair — which had begun many years before he became the Liberal leader — Scott began to blab about it to friends, other politicians and eventually the police. Initially, the allegations resulted merely in an internal Liberal party inquiry, which exonerated Thorpe — although he had been forced to deny that he’d had a sexual relationship with Scott.

I am sure the Special Branch, Devon police and Scotland Yard were well aware of the truth. However, as part of a conspiracy to protect the MP, they instinctively knew — without having to meet in secret in a smoke-filled room in the Reform club — how to cover up such a scandal.

F or the very last thing that Britain’s governing elite needed at the time was a high-profile homosexual scandal. Indeed, if it had been made public, it could have done irreparable damage to Britain’s relationship with our closest ally, America, whose government had just begun sharing nuclear secrets with us.

There had already been the huge embarrassment of Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean (British members of a KGB spy ring that had penetrated MI6 and then passed vital information to the Soviets).

the Special Branch, Devon police and Scotland Yard were well aware of the truth behind the conspiracy theory that Jeremy Thorpe (pictured) was trying to silence one of his former gay lovers

the Special Branch, Devon police and Scotland Yard were well aware of the truth behind the conspiracy theory that Jeremy Thorpe (pictured) was trying to silence one of his former gay lovers

There had also been the case of John Vassall, a gay Admiralty official who had been compromised by Soviet KGB officers, and the scandal of War Minister John Profumo, who had bedded Christine Keeler while she was also sleeping with a Soviet naval attache. And those are only the cases the public knew about!

The Americans were already nervous that Britain had been so easily infiltrated by the KGB, and would have become still more alarmed to learn that yet another high-profile political figure had a secret life that left him vulnerable to potential blackmail and manipulation.

But if political land mines lay all over Whitehall for my investigative TV team to avoid, there were even more lying hidden in the corridors of the BBC — the beyond reproach ‘queen of broadcasting’ and ‘fountain of truth’. So what if the Daily Express or Daily Mirror had reported the Thorpe scandal, who would care? Such newspapers were considered to be ‘gutter press’ and with no influence.

But if the BBC, with its power and influence, ran a one-hour documentary … to the Establishment, that would have been unacceptable.

I had been on the story for less than two weeks when I got a phone call from Jo Grimond, one of Thorpe’s predecessors as Liberal leader. ‘What you are doing is outrageous!’ he barked down the line. ‘Unless you stop at once, I’ll have you dismissed within hours by the [BBC’s] Director General, who I happen to know extremely well.’

We then received a torrent of threatening calls from another Liberal MP called Cyril Smith — who, ironically, since his death has been exposed as a predatory paedophile and a serial abuser of young boys, whose activities were covered up years later by the Establishment.

Nevertheless, we remained ‘protected’ from their wrath by an invisible shield within the BBC. I now think I know why.

When Thorpe’s ex-lover Norman Scott (pictured) made a formal criminal complaint about the Liberal MP’s relationship with him, the leading officer didn’t bother to open an investigation

When Thorpe’s ex-lover Norman Scott (pictured) made a formal criminal complaint about the Liberal MP’s relationship with him, the leading officer didn’t bother to open an investigation

I can’t prove it, but after a lifetime with the BBC — an organisation for which I have undying affection and whose initials remain stamped through my backbone like Blackpool rock — and after 40 years of making numerous films about intelligence and writing a book about the CIA, I do now, sadly, believe I and my team were being carefully manipulated by the state broadcaster.

Early on in our investigation, I flew to California, where I interviewed Thorpe’s closest chum, the Liberal MP Peter Bessell. I cassette-taped three hours of his full, astonishing story.

When I returned to the BBC HQ in London’s Lime Grove, a kindly executive told me I looked jet-lagged and took the cassette from me — ‘for safe keeping,’ he said. ‘I’ll keep it in the office safe.’

Funnily enough, however many times I requested or even demanded the tape’s return, I could never lay hands on it. We ploughed on regardless.

Slowly, we discovered the extent of the Whitehall conspiracy to cover up Thorpe’s behaviour. We learnt that the FBI had warned their Special Branch counterparts in Britain about Thorpe’s predilection for rent boys in Times Square during visits to New York.

As a result, Devon police were asked to make discreet inquiries — and the then Chief Constable, Sir Ranulph Bacon, made damn sure the results remained secret.

As the police/Special Branch file on Thorpe grew, it ‘disappeared’ from the registry in Scotland Yard and was placed where no one could see it — in the safe of the Assistant Commissioner (Crime).

I am indebted to the veteran intelligence historian Nigel West for reminding me there were ‘plenty of very sensitive’ Metropolitan Police Special Branch files that were kept by the Assistant Commissioner. He says: ‘It is no different at MI5, where some files would be retained by the appropriate section or in the MI5 director-general’s personal safe.’ West points out that MI5 was under no obligation to share intelligence about political figures with government ministers. Nor would any information obtained centrally by the police have been passed back to the local forces.

J oin all the dots and it is not surprising that when Thorpe’s ex-lover, Norman Scott, went to Chelsea police station to make a formal criminal complaint about the Liberal MP’s relationship with him, the leading officer, Bob Huntley (later to become head of the Yard’s bomb squad), didn’t bother to open an investigation.

‘Who would believe the word of a queer stable boy against that of Jeremy Thorpe?’ Huntley said when I interviewed him years later. There has never been any explanation of why that criminal complaint was not taken any further in terms of a prosecution. But you can bet a crate of Bollinger champagne that someone made sure Scott’s allegations went straight up to Special Branch.

Even so, Scott’s allegations were causing Thorpe sufficient damage that it was alleged the MP told a colleague: ‘We have to get rid of him.’ In due course, as the Old Bailey trial of Thorpe heard, a plot was devised to hire a hitman using Liberal party funds to solve the problem of Norman Scott.

The contract to murder him, for a fee worth £140,000 in today’s money, went first to a small-time South London villain called Dennis Meighan. However, although he dropped out at the last minute, he remained a key witness and would have been a crucial prosecution witness at any trial of Thorpe.

Quite correctly, Scotland Yard detectives got a damning — and true — statement from him.

But a few weeks later, Meighan took a phone call from an unidentified man who told him to go to Brentford Police Station where he was told he was ‘expected’. When referring to the local police, the caller used the expression ‘wooden-tops’, which was then commonly used by Special Branch in a sneering reference to their ‘lesser mortals’ in uniform.

Meighan went to Brentford, was ushered into an interrogation room, and handed an envelope which contained a new and totally different version of his statement about the plot to kill Norman Scott.

It exonerated Thorpe and the Liberals from any plot and also exonerated Meighan for conspiracy to kill, and possession of an illegally loaded Mauser. Meighan, who himself faced criminal charges, couldn’t believe his luck. He happily signed the false statement — and was never called as a witness to the subsequent Thorpe trial.

So what was behind one of the great cover ups of the 20th century? Jeremy Thorpe’s innocence was regarded as crucial to the national interest. Whitehall did not want another homosexual scandal, conscious of the damage it could pose to Britain’s relationship with the U.S., and also the deleterious effect it would have on the balance between rulers and ruled. But in a democracy, there is only so much a conspiracy of this enormity to protect such a high-profile politician from prosecution could achieve.

Eventually, such was the pressure from the Press, that the Director of Public Prosecutions was finally obliged to bring charges against Thorpe for his alleged role in the plot to murder his former male lover.

I am the opposite of a conspiracy theorist, but at this point I do get conspiratorial.

Sir Ian Trethowan was in charge of the BBC at the time and have a very close relationship with the Security Services

Sir Ian Trethowan was in charge of the BBC at the time and have a very close relationship with the Security Services

Particularly, there was the profoundly questionable choice of judge to hear the case at the Old Bailey. Not all judges are allocated trials on a simple roster basis. Sometimes, the Lord Chancellor (as the post was back then), who was head of the judicial system and a very powerful political appointment, had an oh-so discreet hand in these matters.

Sometimes, the ‘right’ judge was hand-picked for a sensitive trial … the kind of judge who shared without question the Establishment consensus. The result? The judge in question Sir Joseph Cantley’s summing up in the Thorpe case was a judicial farce. He virtually ordered the jury to find Thorpe not guilty.

A similar thing had happened a decade earlier in the trial which I covered of the society osteopath Stephen Ward, who had introduced Christine Keeler to Tory war minister John Profumo and was subsequently prosecuted for living on the earnings of prostitutes. In this case, though, the jury was encouraged to convict.

By now we had finished our Thorpe documentary — having uncovered overwhelming evidence of just how the Establishment had closed ranks. It was a remarkable snapshot of the period. But Thorpe was found innocent. Not surprisingly, on the night of the end of his trial, the BBC management, rightly, felt that it could not transmit our film, which was based on an assumption of Thorpe’s guilt.

But what happened next was odd.

The man who had commissioned the film sent a despatch rider to my home with a letter ordering me to destroy every existing tape of the film. If I didn’t do so, I would be fired.

And who was the BBC’s director general and chief executive in charge of news and current affairs at the time? None other than Sir Ian Trethowan, who had a very close, and editorially unhealthy, relationship with the Security Services. Three years later, he directly interfered with an investigative — and not always friendly — documentary I was making about MI5, ordering me to give my script to MI5 so they could vet it before transmission.

‘And you are to tell no one of this conversation,’ he instructed as I stood to attention in his office. The MI5 documentary was broadcast, but only after more Trethowan interference.

As BBC director-general at the time, it was in Sir Ian’s power to stop us making our Jeremy Thorpe film. But oddly he never used that power.

Is this because the information we turned up was helping to fatten the files of MI5? Were we unwittingly keeping MI5 in the picture? Ever since, I’ve never stopped wondering. But, deep down, I think I know the truth.

Compared with the Seventies, the BBC has matured and Britain today is a freer, more open, less class-ridden and secret society. Yet there are still justified concerns that when it can get away with it, the Establishment will cover up for its own.

Take the slow boiling scandal involving paedophilia rings and Westminster notables, and, this week, the row over the cover up of the CIA’s torture interrogation techniques — some of which were learned from Britain’s brutal behaviour in Northern Ireland — which were well known to Westminster governments of both stripes at the time.

Which is why I would argue that investigative journalism, for all its occasional dreadful mistakes, bad apples and cock-ups, is still a crucial part of the DNA of our democratic genes in Britain.

When establishments seek to control us, we should recognise that this is the thin end of the wedge. It is important to note that the Leveson Inquiry — set up to look into the ridiculous follies of phone-hackers (they even bugged my phone to find out what Panorama was up to, for Heaven’s sake!) — have led to serious attempts to constrain the Press and introduce an element of political involvement in our editorial freedom.

But this will merely take us back to where we were 40 years ago. I strongly believe there is one thing that we must remember above all. When any citizen wants help to expose corruption, hypocrisy, wrongdoing or corrosive inefficiency, there must be a newspaper, magazine or broadcast office which he or she can contact for help.

The British Establishment’s protective walls of secrecy of the Seventies will never be completely breached, but we can try to remain truly independent, vigilant and deserving tribunes of the people. That is our democratic duty and happens to be what we do best.

  • Tom Mangold was senior correspondent of BBC TV Panorama from 1976-2003.

Paedophile Radio DJ pleads guilty to sex offences

Published November 15, 2014 by JS2

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FORMER Radio 1 DJ Chris Denning has admitted 41 sex charges against young boys in crimes spanning 20 years.

Denning, 73, of Essex, pleaded guilty to ten charges of indecent assault on a male, a charge of gross indecency and another of indecency with a child when he appeared in custody at Southwark Crown Court in London.

He has previously admitted 29 charges – including 26 counts of indecent assault on a male and three of indecency with a child – at a hearing at Southwark Crown Court in August.

One of his victims was just nine years old.

Denning is set to be sentenced on 41 charges when he next appears in custody at the same court on 9 December.

Scotland Yard said the offences involve 26 male victims who were assaulted between 1967 and 1987.

Yesterday, Denning also denied one count of indecent assault on a male person.

He was one of the original Radio 1 line-up when the BBC station was launched in 1967.

Denning was also the first announcer heard on BBC2 when the television channel took to the air in 1964.

He was first arrested by detectives from sex-crime inquiry Operation Yewtree in June last year.

After the hearing, Detective Chief Inspector Michael Orchard, from the sexual offences, exploitation and child abuse command, said: “Christopher Denning is a dangerous serial offender who committed ­numerous offences over a 20-year period against a large number of young boys.

“Denning’s only redeeming quality is that he has not made his victims go through the trial process.

“I would like to thank the victims for their bravery and courage in coming forward.

“I hope Denning’s admittance of guilt is the first step in helping them move on with their lives.”

The former DJ had previously been jailed for four and a half years in the Czech Republic in 2000 for having sexual contact with underage teenage boys.

He was jailed again in 2006 for four years after pleading guilty to child abuse during the 1970s and 80s.

Baljit Ubhey, chief crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service in London, said: “The scale of Chris Denning’s child sexual abuse is truly shocking. His offending spanned 20 years and his youngest victim was aged just nine at the time of the attack.

“The compelling evidence in this case left Chris Denning with little option but to plead guilty. I am pleased that the guilty pleas mean a potentially lengthy trial has been avoided and the victims will not be required to give evidence.”

Operation Yewtree is the Met’s investigation into allegations that have arisen since presenter Jimmy Savile was accused of abuse. The operation has three strands. One is looking at the actions of Savile, the second concerns allegations against “Savile and others”. The third relates to alleged complaints against other people unconnected to the Savile investigations.

  • by HELEN WILLIAM

By honouring a sex predator like John Peel the BBC shows it’s learnt nothing from Jimmy Savile

Published October 16, 2014 by JS2

The late John Peel is revered and celebrated by many lovers of rock and pop music as a legendary disc jockey. The BBC, for which he worked for many years, regards him a major figure in the history of broadcasting.

So in March 2012, the Corporation decided to rename a wing at Broadcasting House after Peel, who died in 2004. But while they were preparing to nail a blue plaque on the wall, an allegation was made that the DJ had had sex with an underage girl numerous times on BBC premises in 1969.

Amid a fusillade of similar allegations involving other former BBC DJs and employees, most notably Jimmy Savile, the Beeb hurriedly shoved the plaque into a drawer. It also said it would consider calling the Peel Wing something else, though in the event it did nothing.

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In March 2012, the Corporation decided to rename a wing at Broadcasting House after Peel, who died in 2004. Then an allegation was made that the DJ had had sex with an underage girl on BBC premises in 1969

Ignored

Now, more than two years later, the Mail’s Sebastian Shakespeare Diary has revealed that the Corporation is dusting off its blue plaque in the belief that the furore has died down. This is a decision that speaks volumes about the BBC. It shows it has still not come to terms with the industrial-scale sexual abuse which it tolerated among its ‘stars’.

I realise, of course, that Peel is still widely admired as a ‘national treasure’. All I can say is this was also true of many of the figures whose reputations lie in ruins: Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris, Stuart Hall, Dave Lee Travis and so on.

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Even before the allegation against Peel surfaced in October 2012, there were good reasons, which naturally the BBC had entirely ignored, for suspecting that he had unusual sexual tastes — or at any rate sexual tastes that were unusual outside the BBC.

As a young man he worked as a DJ in Texas in a local radio station. Much later he recalled that girls, some as young as 13, used to queue up outside his radio station.

‘Well, of course I didn’t ask for ID,’ he said. ‘All they wanted me to do was to abuse them sexually which, of course, I was only too happy to do.’ He complained that American girls had ‘this strange notion of virginity as a tangible thing which you surrendered to your husband on your wedding night. So they would do anything but s*** you’

Aged 26, in 1965, Peel married a 15-year-old American girl called Shirley Anne Milburn. He later claimed she and her family had lied about her age. They divorced in 1973. Some years later, after returning to the U.S., she committed suicide.

In the mid-Seventies, Peel wrote a column in Sounds (a rock music weekly) in which he sometimes mentioned that he preferred the company of fans when they were dressed as schoolgirls. He once put on a schoolgirl uniform for a picture, and ran a Schoolgirl of the Year competition on his Radio 1 show.

All this the BBC knew, or should have known, when it decided to rename a wing after him. The same might be said of the universities, including Bradford, Liverpool, Sheffield Hallam and East Anglia, which recklessly showered honorary degrees on a man whose sexual preferences would be regarded by most people as deviant.

Then, in October 2012, Jane Nevin alleged she had had a three-month affair with Peel when she was 15 and he was 30, much of it conducted on BBC premises. She became pregnant aged 16, and had a ‘traumatic abortion’. She said: ‘[Peel] must have known that I was still at school. But he didn’t ask, and I didn’t tell him.’

Of course, this is only an allegation, but it is practically irrefutable in view of several pieces of evidence, including a postcard sent by Peel to Jane Nevin many years later.

To anyone who says he can’t answer back, my response is that the same can be said of abusers such as Savile, or the former Liberal MP Cyril Smith. There’s nothing to suggest that Peel was a sexual predator on anything like the same scale as these monsters, but it’s hard to believe he would have escaped investigation by the police, at the very least, were he still alive.

Nor is there any validity in the defence enshrined in the French proverb ‘autres temps, autres moeurs’ (other times, different morals.) While it is undoubtedly the case that many BBC stars routinely had consensual sex with, or sexually assaulted, underage girls and occasionally boys, it is certain such practices would have been abhorrent to almost everyone outside the Corporation.

The BBC has not begun to come to terms with the scale of the degeneracy it fostered. It took far too long to confront the abuses of Jimmy Savile, whose victims can be numbered in hundreds. We know that as late as December 2011 an investigation into Savile’s vile practices by BBC2’s Newsnight was mysteriously axed by Corporation executives.

Hollow

An internal investigation carried out by Nick Pollard, a former BSkyB executive, exonerated BBC bosses. But it later emerged that Pollard had been informed by senior BBC executive Helen Boaden that she had told Mark Thompson, the then director-general, at the time about the Newsnight investigation.

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In other words, just as 30, 40 and 50 years ago BBC management turned a blind eye to sexual abuse on a vast scale, so its modern management seemingly tried to protect Savile for as long as possible, doubtless because it realised its own reputation was on the line.

When it eventually came, the apology for having indulged Savile for so long was very hollow. Just how hollow can be gauged by its decision to put up a plaque to honour John Peel.

Presumably even the BBC would not dare to name a wing after Jimmy Savile or Rolf Harris or Stuart Hall or any of the other reprobates whose appalling mistreatment of young people has been established.

Yet it still hopes to rehabilitate John Peel, in the mistaken belief that his misdemeanours have either been forgotten, or, if recalled, will not be considered sufficiently serious by most licence payers.

Strident

But aren’t sexual relations with a 13-year-old girl when he was in his early to mid-20s (specifically admitted by Peel in one newspaper interview) a serious matter, and don’t the other incidences of sex with minors, not to mention his stated preference for schoolgirls, together amount to a grave indictment?

Along with The Guardian, the BBC was in the vanguard of criticism of the News of the World over its phone-hacking of celebrities and others. Not only the wayward Sunday red-top was held to account. The entire Press was examined by Lord Justice Leveson, most of whose strident recommendations have been accepted by newspapers.

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Phone-hacking is a serious business, but isn’t providing a nest for sexual abusers, and ignoring their sordid activities, more momentous? And isn’t apparently trying to cover up Savile’s crimes as recently as three years ago another scandal? Yet no Lord Justice Leveson has been summoned to investigate the Beeb.

If there were the slightest sign of contrition on the part of the BBC, that would be some sort of recompense. Oh for some sign that it has finally seen the error of its ways!

But its celebration of John Peel — a minor figure in the annals of sexual abuse, no doubt, but a predator nonetheless — suggests that the Corporation has learnt nothing from the past, and isn’t remotely sorry for what it did.

Stephen Glover