Cyril Smith

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A paedophile priest, two bishops and a sickening conspiracy of silence: He married Frank Bruno and said Mass for Delia Smith. But behind the glitz was one of the Catholic Church’s dirtiest secrets

Published March 5, 2015 by JS2

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Brought to justice: Father Tony McSweeney, 68, lied and lied for decades

  • SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: Father Tony McSweeney
  • ‘The priest’ would always try to kiss and fondle the boys
  • The Church had the chance to protect the children from him
  • He hired a rent boy for sex, then claimed he was his godson 

Father Tony McSweeney chalked up a number of notable additions to his CV during a lifetime supposedly devoted to the service of children and God.

He said Mass at Norwich City Football Club at the request of its celebrity cook owner Delia Smith, and conducted the marriage of world heavyweight boxing champion Frank Bruno.

He also received the prestigious Silver Acorn for decades of ‘dedication’ to the global Scout movement and his co-authorship of its official songbook.

Last week, he even boasted of being the ‘world expert’ on organising campfire get-togethers.

But now he must add a chilling new entry to his list of achievements: he has become the first paedophile to be tried and convicted after being linked to allegations of a VIP ring based at an infamous South London guesthouse who preyed on boys from a nearby care home.

And unless police make further progress with their investigations, he could well be the last.

For decades — culminating in his trial and conviction at Southwark Crown Court on Friday — McSweeney, 68, lied and lied.

He broke criminal laws, childcare rules, the bond of trust between priest and congregation and his priestly vows of celibacy, sometimes in the most disgusting fashion.

His offending, as far as we know, goes back to the Seventies when, while training for the priesthood, he worked as a part-time carer at a local authority-run home for vulnerable boys in Grafton Close, Richmond-upon-Thames.

He was given the job by the manager, his ‘good friend’ — and fellow predator — John Stingemore.

McSweeney was finally caught when, more than 30 years later, police launched an investigation into historic allegations that Grafton Close boys had been sent to Elm Guest House, a gay hotel in nearby Barnes, to be sexually abused.

The list of alleged abusers included Cabinet ministers and MPs, diplomats, spies, policemen, judges, pop stars and staff of the Royal Households.

Delia SmithFrank Bruno

Detectives are satisfied that the late Liberal MP Cyril Smith, a known but unpunished abuser of boys during his long political career, was one visitor to the guest-house.

As the Mail revealed in 2013, one of the Grafton Close boys, Peter Bornshin, had been so traumatised by his experiences that he later committed suicide.

McSweeney’s conviction last week for offences of indecent assault of a minor and making indecent images of children confirms his four decades as a known, active paedophile, most of which he spent in positions of authority over children and young people.

Yet following his trial and an investigation by this newspaper, a number of disturbing questions remain.

One in particular should be addressed by the Roman Catholic Church, whose image in recent years has been severely damaged by revelations of widespread paedophile abuse by clergy and cover-ups by the hierarchy.

It is this: why in 1998, when McSweeney had just been thrown out of an Essex parish after a cleaner found a video that she believed to show under-age gay sex, did two bishops agree he should almost immediately be given a posting to another diocese, where his history was unknown to the congregation?

As we shall see, at least one Catholic layperson who became aware of the reason for McSweeney’s sudden departure from Essex was shocked when, by chance, he found that the priest had been ‘recycled’ to another part of the country as though nothing had happened.

We can also reveal that one of those bishops behind that decision went on to be the longest-serving English Catholic prelate of modern times.

The other, whom McSweeney described in court last week as his ‘friend’, has risen to become the current Archbishop of Southwark, one of the most senior figures in the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. The scandal — for that is what it seems — touches no fewer than three dioceses.

For a decade before he took holy orders in 1978, McSweeney was a warden at Britain’s then largest Scout camp, in Waltham Abbey, Essex.

One can make an educated guess at the motives behind his desire to spend time in the great outdoors with adolescent boys.

Indeed, the court heard that in 1976 he approached a boy in a shower block at a Scout retreat and told him to ‘wash under the foreskin’.

Elm Guest HousePeter Bornshin

When the boy reported it to another warden, he was told not to ‘be so stupid and make trouble’ — and no charge was ever brought.

Two years later, McSweeney joined St John’s Roman Catholic seminary near Guildford. The professor of canonical law at St John’s during the four years he spent there was the future Archbishop of Southwark, Peter Smith.

McSweeney told the court that around the same time and ‘by the grace of God and the favour of John Stingemore’, he got the part-time job as a carer at the Richmond care home Stingemore was managing.

Oh no, not again. He promised not to…

McSweeney, who will be sentenced on March 27, had met Stingemore in 1970. The court heard that after they started working at the care home, they took Grafton Close boys on holiday together.

The two men also travelled to Amsterdam, visiting sex shops in the red-light district. Shortly after that trip, the pair sat in Stingemore’s flat at Grafton Close and watched a film featuring sex acts involving boys as young as ten.

The court heard the boys at the care home knew McSweeney as ‘the priest’, and that abuse happened ‘almost all the time’ when he stayed over at the home. He would try to kiss them or fondle their genitals, and he made them sit on his lap.

John Stingemore was eventually dismissed — it is not clear exactly when — after the authorities learned he had taken indecent photographs of boys in his care.

When this happened, McSweeney dropped all contact with him. By then, McSweeney had been ordained into the priesthood and was working in the diocese of Brentwood. The bishop was Thomas McMahon, who held the post for 34 years until retiring last year.

Detectives are satisfied that the late Liberal MP Cyril Smith (pictured) was one visitor to the guest-house

McSweeney was moved around the diocese – he later claimed that his role was as a ‘troubleshooter’ for the bishop – before becoming parish priest of St Peter’s in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, in 1997.

But it would prove a short-lived appointment. McSweeney had been there for only a year when his housekeeper looked in a bedside drawer and found sex toys, bondage equipment and videos.

The woman, who was a policeman’s daughter and the mother of adolescent boys, played one of the videos on the presbytery’s television.

In the brief scene she watched, two youths she thought to be as young as 14 were engaged in penetrative sex.

She phoned the police and told them what she had seen. But because she wished to remain anonymous, they did not follow up the complaint, she told the court during McSweeney’s trial.

She then took the matter straight to the diocesan authorities, but ‘wasn’t very satisfied’ by their response.

They admitted that they knew McSweeney was gay, she said, but implied she had misjudged the ages of the boys in the film.

Indeed, in court, McSweeney claimed the youths were ‘Twinks’ — gay slang for 18 to 25-year-olds — who looked younger than they actually were.

This newspaper was told by another lay source in the parish that the diocese’s initial reaction was ‘Oh no, not again. He promised not to…’ which suggests they were aware of his predilection for gay pornography.

The video was found on a Friday and McSweeney had gone from the parish before Sunday Mass, a source told the Mail.

And so, almost two decades after what we now know to be McSweeney’s first serious offending, at the Grafton Close care home, the Church was given the chance to curtail his activities and protect not only its own image but youngsters with whom McSweeney came into contact.

Visit: McSweeney and fellow predator John Stingemore travelled to Amsterdam, visiting sex shops in the red-light districtVisit: McSweeney and fellow predator John Stingemore travelled to Amsterdam, visiting sex shops in the red-light district

McSweeney told the court that in the aftermath of his housekeeper’s discovery, he was ‘effectively banished’ by Bishop McMahon.

But instead of facing disciplinary procedures and the possibility of being laicised — the Catholic version of defrocking — he simply went to live with ‘various friends’ and had what he called a ‘breakdown’.

Then, as he explained to the court, he phoned ‘a friend who was [another] bishop. He accepted everything that happened. He spoke to my bishop’.

Though it is not clear who this other bishop was, within months McSweeney was back in office, in the parish of St George’s, Norwich, in the diocese of East Anglia.

At the time, the Bishop of East Anglia was Peter Smith, McSweeney’s old professor at seminary in Guildford.

Three years ago: In the febrile atmosphere that followed the eruption of the Jimmy Savile (pictured) scandal, old allegations about abuse by well-known figures at Elm Guest House were revived

Three years ago: In the febrile atmosphere that followed the eruption of the Jimmy Savile (pictured) scandal, old allegations about abuse by well-known figures at Elm Guest House were revived

The disgraced priest’s resurrection came as a surprise to a Catholic layperson from McSweeney’s former diocese in Brentwood, who had good reason to remember him well.

One evening the year before, this layperson had gone to the St Peter’s presbytery to get the keys for the church hall.

When McSweeney opened the door, he threw the keys in the man’s face and told him to ‘f*** off’.

Might he have been doing something that made him particularly keen not to be disturbed?

The parishoner recalls: ‘It was the strangest blessing I’ve ever had from a priest.’

It was shortly after this incident that McSweeney was booted out in disgrace. A few months later, the same Essex parishioner attended a conference for Catholic professionals, held in Norwich. The guest speaker was none other than Tony McSweeney. His subject? The joys of Scouting.

‘I could not believe what I was seeing,’ says the source.

McSweeney prospered in Norfolk. He became chaplain and governor of a school.

He rubbed shoulders with local celebrities — hence, presumably, his invitation from Delia Smith, the Catholic cookery writer, to say Mass at Norwich football club, where she and her husband are majority shareholders.

McSweeney also took children on pilgrimage to the Catholic shrine at Lourdes, and continued to burnish his Scouting profile.

Then, three years ago, the Jimmy Savile scandal erupted as a welter of accusations against the former DJ emerged. In the febrile atmosphere that followed, old allegations about abuse by well-known figures at Elm Guest House were revived.

Having seen the coverage in newspapers, the court heard, one of Tony McSweeney’s former victims from Grafton Close, now in his 50s, decided to come forward.

Fully 15 years after the Catholic Church had simply moved McSweeney to another diocese, police from Operation Fernbridge — investigating events at Elm Guest House — raided his Norwich presbytery.

It was the strangest blessing I’ve ever had from a priest

They found on his laptop thousands of recently downloaded pornographic images, including the most serious category of paedophilia. Forensic examination showed that he often used the keyword ‘boy’ when searching for porn.

The judge in his trial refused the defence’s request to have these offences separated from the historic paedophile assaults at Grafton Close. They were all of a part.

In the witness box, McSweeney continued to lie and deny. Morbidly obese and not wearing a clerical collar, he cut a pathetic figure, weeping theatrically while giving his evidence.

But they were crocodile tears. In an extraordinary passage, McSweeney was asked by his own counsel to explain one of the many portrait photographs of adolescents or young men which the police had found in his home.

It was a picture of his ‘godson’, the priest told the court fondly.

Sorry: Earlier this year, Pope Francis (above) issued an apology to victims of clerical sex abuse and asked for forgiveness

This lie was exploded by the prosecuting counsel. A large number of other images of the same male, this time naked, had been found on a CD in the presbytery. They had been taken in a Paris hotel room.

The ‘godson’ was, in fact, an Italian rent boy whom McSweeney had paid for sex. It wasn’t a lie, McSweeney argued pathetically: ‘godson’ was merely ‘shorthand’ for the ‘pastoral care’ he had given the male prostitute.

Much as the conviction of this dangerous man is a victory for the authorities, McSweeney may prove to be the only catch for Operation Fernbridge.

John Stingemore — former manager of the Grafton Close care home — was charged with similar offences, but died just weeks before the trial.

What then of the Church’s role in failing to act decisively against McSweeney? Earlier this year, Pope Francis issued an apology to victims of clerical sex abuse and asked for forgiveness.

Yet commentators observed that Vatican officials remained reluctant to act against bishops accused of orchestrating cover-ups.

One irony of the McSweeney case is that, prior to his current position, Archbishop Peter Smith — McSweeney’s old friend from the Guildford seminary — had been promoted from East Anglia to head the archdiocese of Cardiff. The previous incumbent in Wales had stood down amid claims he ignored ‘warnings about paedophile priests in the archdiocese’.

I could not believe what I was seeing

Archbishop Smith was tasked with restoring the Welsh Church’s reputation, and declared he ‘wanted to help people bind up the wounds and bring healing’. This was three years after McSweeney had been given a new post in Smith’s East Anglia diocese.

This newspaper contacted the archbishop’s office about McSweeney’s claims of friendship, but inquiries were redirected to his former diocese of East Anglia.

In a statement, that diocese claimed: ‘The incident involving the video tapes in Fr McSweeney’s possession [in Brentwood, Essex] … was not investigated by the police on the grounds that they were not illegal. At that time, no allegations of child abuse had been made against Fr McSweeney.

‘The possession of such tapes was regarded by the Church as a matter of clergy discipline.’

The Diocese of Brentwood and its former head, Bishop McMahon, were asked by the Mail about their role in the affair. The diocese responded: ‘(After) the discovery of these videos in 1998, Fr McSweeney was offered therapy and counselling.

‘He then decided to leave the diocese, and some time later sought an appointment in the Diocese of East Anglia. Following consultations between the two bishops, he was allowed to take up a post in that diocese.’

There is no doubt the conviction of Father Tony McSweeney has seen a predatory man brought to justice. But the feeling remains that many others who abused boys at Elm Guest House and elsewhere have got away with their crimes scot-free.

Richard Pendlebury

EXCLUSIVE: Sordid tales were kept out of Jeremy Thorpe’s murder trial

Published December 8, 2014 by JS2

EXPLOSIVE sex claims about former Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe were kept out of his trial for the attempted murder of ex-male model Norman Scott.

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Graphic testimony from gay men he had met in bars and on the street was never heard after Thorpe agreed to admit in court to “homosexual tendencies”.

The deal was made between the prosecution and Thorpe’s celebrated defence barrister George Carman QC and it prevented shocking and lurid details emerging during the 1979 trial, said the lawyer’s son Dominic.

He also told the Sunday Express that Thorpe, who died last week aged 85, had helped to cover up fellow Liberal MP Cyril Smith’s sexual abuse of children.

Thorpe was worried those allegations would further harm his own reputation, already in tatters over the alleged murder bid.

Mr Carman, who still has his late father’s entire trial brief, said: “What is in the prosecution evidence is a substantial amount of information from a lot of different men, which confirms that Thorpe was, to quote the phrase of the 1970s, a ‘promiscuous homosexual’.

“The relevance of that was to prove he was that way inclined because he had always denied it.

“My father struck a deal with the prosecuting barrister that none of the evidence would appear in court if Jeremy Thorpe admitted to having ‘homosexual tendencies’.

“He admitted that and there fore this whole pile of evidence was never submitted as it was deemed irrelevant.

“Some of it would even now be viewed as being pretty strong stuff.”

The trial still gripped the nation with claims of secret affairs, murder and revenge.

Thorpe, a twice-married father of one, led the Liberal Party between 1967 and 1976.

He was accused of murdering Norman Scott for threatening to uncover their alleged relationship.

He was said to have hired a hitman to kill Scott but the contract killer instead shot dead Scott’s dog, Rinka.

Days before the Old Bailey trial in May 1979, allegations that Smith was a predatory paedophile who preyed on young boys surfaced in the Rochdale Alternative Press and later Private Eye.

Mr Carman said not only had Thorpe been well aware of the allegations, he actively took steps to make sure they were stifled.

He instructed the establishment’s chief fixer, lawyer Lord Goodman, to ensure the claims were never followed up by the national press to avoid being tarred with the same brush so close to standing trial.

Mr Carman said: “Thorpe was concerned and a discussion about Cyril Smith was had.

“Although it wasn’t immediately relevant to the case if it had got wider currency and been published by the national press of the time, that would have potentially created much further prejudice against Thorpe because it would imply they’re all at it.

“Smith and Thorpe had nothing in common whatsoever and absolutely loathed each other but, of course, as is often the case in politics, they had to work together.

“Lord Goodman, who was a general fixer and worked on behalf of both Harold Wilson when he was prime minister in the early 1970s and indeed Thorpe, was instructed to stop any further reporting of this by the national press and it worked.”

Thorpe emerged from the 31-day trial victorious but his political career never recovered and he lost his North Devon seat in the 1979 general election.

He died on Thursday after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

James Fielding

EXCLUSIVE: Cyril Smith was linked to paedo brothel murder probe says ex-cop

Published December 7, 2014 by JS2

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PERVERTED MP Cyril Smith was investigated over a ­possible paedophile murder, a detective revealed last night.

Jack Tasker probed the 29stone ­politician’s warped lusts – and believes he was a major supplier of boys to other sex beasts.

And retired Jack says Smith’s name even came up during inquiries by fellow officers into killings linked to a notorious gay ­brothel.

But Jack, 82, says his own investigations were shut down by police top brass – and he was told he’d be “back in uniform” if he didn’t leave Smith alone.

The former detective sergeant, who served with Lancashire Police for 35 years, said he has no doubt there was a cover-up to protect Smith’s depraved antics.

Jack said: “Smith’s name even cropped up in talks with colleagues as a possible ­suspect for a murder at the Elm Guest House in ­London, where we knew Cyril was a regular visitor.

“It is all being investigated again now.

“It was always my impression that he was a supplier, as well as being a full-blown ­paedophile.

“I believe he was supplying kids for a lot of powerful people.”

Jack also revealed for the first time that Smith had unsupervised access to a young offenders’ centre in his Rochdale ­constituency.

He said: “Smith was a regular visitor to Buckley Hall Detention Centre, which was full of boys.

“He used to come and go as he pleased.

“People who worked there told me he had his own set of keys – not to the perimeter but to the interior.

“He used to come in, pick his keys up and wander around alone.

“He was allowed access to anywhere inside and could have anything he wanted.”

Last month, the Metropolitan Police ­confirmed they were investigating possible historical murders linked to a paedophile ring centred on Westminster officials.

The group are also linked to Elm Guest House, a hotel in Barnes, south-west ­London, which was run as a gay brothel in the 1970s and 80s.

Disgraced Smith was one of the high-profile names said to have attended orgies there.

But Jack had investigated Smith even before then, leading a major investigation into the then-councillor dating back as far as 1969.

He said: “We saw eight young lads who had been his victims but Smith eventually found out.

“We later discovered that his mother worked at the police station as a cleaner.

“She cleaned the stairs and offices and heard all the gossip.”

Jack interviewed Smith, with the ­politician “sweating profusely” and stumbling over his answers.

Jack said: “I think we would have cracked him but officials would not allow us to go there again.

“What really did me was what those lads must have thought.

“That was the bit that stuck in my craw.

“We were ordered to stop.

“We were visited by a superintendent and a chief superintendent.

“They were from the Lancashire Police HQ at Hutton.”

He said the officers forced him to unlock a drawer containing files on Smith.

“They told me to take everything out that relates to this case and added ‘We mean ­everything, every scrap of paper and every note you’ve ever made’.

“They said we would be back in uniform if anything went wrong.”

He added: “I would still like to see justice done.

“I thought we had let these victims down.”

Jack said files he produced and others from a subsequent inquiry ended up “languishing in a Special Branch safe at Hutton for years”.

It was there they were finally discovered by Special Branch detective Tony Robinson.

We told last week how Tony, now 81, had been threatened by former colleagues at Lancashire Police over speaking to the press about what he saw.

Now we can reveal that Tony has contacted MP Simon Danczuk, Labour member for Cyril Smith’s old Rochdale seat and has named the police officers who he says warned him off.

by Don Hale

EXCLUSIVE: MPs face sex abuse arrest!

Published November 30, 2014 by JS2

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Labour’s John Mann, who has campaigned to uncover details of a Westminster ­paedophile ring operating in the 1970s and 80s, said he ­expected police to swoop in the New Year.

The news came as it emerged former policemen who have ­investigated the abuse network have been warned they could be arrested for breaching the ­Official Secrets Act if they speak out now.

There are calls for the ­retired officers to be given an ­amnesty from prosecution if they reveal what they know.

We can reveal that ex-Special Branch detective Tony Robinson says he received warnings about repeating facts relating to ­disgraced Liberal MP Cyril Smith and over his monitoring of other politicians.

Tony, 81, now retired and in poor health, said he was “shocked and surprised” by warnings from his old bosses at Lancashire ­Police.

He said they told him his ­knowledge was still protected by the Official Secrets Act (OSA), adding that he should not speak to the media.

Tony, who retired more than 20 years ago, said: “I took this call from a man at my old HQ telling me not to speak about things from years ago.

“I could hardly believe it.

“They have not been in touch for years and then to threaten me or point out that I am still covered by the OSA was ridiculous.

“The whole incident has stressed me out – I’m not well and can’t be doing with all this.”

Tony was the officer who found Cyril Smith’s prosecution files “deliberately hidden” in a ­Special Branch safe in Preston in the early 1970s.

Smith, who died in 2010, had been accused of ­numerous sex offences against children over decades.

Records of incidents were allegedly covered up.

Smith was never charged ­despite several police probes.

Last night Mr Mann, MP for ­Bassetlaw in Nottinghamshire, said he expected politicians to be “arrested and charged”

He said: “There have been a lot of leads and information received from London and ­Nottingham from victims, which I have passed on to the police.

“They have been investigated and I am certain arrests will be made soon – and long before the next election.”

The MP also ­condemned ­attempts to gag former police.

Mr Mann added: “I’m disgusted at the treatment given to Mr ­Robinson.

“He should never have been put in that position with bullying and intimidation.

“I am quite prepared to take up this issue with the Home ­Secretary Theresa May and the ­shadow minister Yvette Cooper.

Mr Mann’s Labour colleague Simon Danczuk, the MP for ­Rochdale, last week made a plea for an amnesty to help past and present officials with any ­knowledge of sexual abuse.

On Thursday in a Commons ­debate on historical child abuse, Mr Danczuk said: “A large number of police officers, both retired and serving, have ­information to give. We simply need to get the full picture and to get those people to speak at an inquiry.

“The Home Secretary must ­ensure there is a full amnesty for any officer so that they are not worried about the Official ­Secrets Act or their pensions.”

Tory MP Zac Goldsmith said in the debate: “There can no longer be any doubt at all that powerful people have done terrible things and they have been protected by the Establishment.”

Mr Danczuk added: “The ­network organised child abuse and conspired to protect each of its members from exposure.

“Cyril Smith was certainly part of it. During my own inquiries Smith was found to be the subject of multiple ­police investigations – all of which were dropped.

“There are many examples of retired police officers offering powerful testimony to me about past investigations of child abuse.

“They were shut down once it was apparent high-profile ­politicians and other Establishment figures were involved.

“Questions must be asked why those investigations did not ­continue.”

Metropolitan Police detective’s fears of Westminster paedophile ‘cover-up’

Published November 20, 2014 by JS2

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Jackie Malton says investigation into Vishal Mehrotra’s death in 1981 could have been compromised by the ‘power of politicians’ at the time

A detective who investigated the murder of a young boy more than 30 years ago has voiced fears of a “cover-up” following claims that the child died at the hands of aWestminster paedophile ring.

Jackie Malton, the inspiration behind Dame Helen Mirren’s character in the ITV series Prime Suspect, said the investigation into Vishal Mehrotra’s death in 1981 could have been compromised by the “power of politicians” at the time.

“During my time in the police there was a feeling of misuse of power,” she told The Telegraph. “There were a lot of powerful people saying, ‘Don’t you know who I am?’”

Now retired from Scotland Yard, Miss Malton was a detective sergeant when she worked on the case, which has never been solved.

Vishal, nine, was abducted as he walked home to Putney, south-west London, after watching the marriage procession of the Prince and Princess of Wales. He disappeared less than a mile away from the notorious Elm Guest House in Barnes. His bones were found in a Sussex field six months later. Last week, the Metropolitan Police announced it was investigating possible murders linked to the guesthouse.

The new inquiry was opened when an alleged victim came forward claiming to have witnessed three boys being killed, including one allegedly strangled by a Conservative MP during a depraved sex game.

Earlier this week, Vishal’s father, Vishambar Mehrotra, a retired magistrate, claimed he had recorded a mystery caller saying his son might have been taken to the Elm Guest House. He took the recording to police at the time but claimed they refused to investigate an allegation implicating “judges and politicians”.

Mr Mehrotra said it had been a huge ‘cover-up’.

Miss Malton, now aged 63 and living in Surrey, worked on Vishal’s disappearance for about four months in 1981 before being seconded to another investigation, weeks before his father’s tape was handed in. She said the culture of policing at the time meant it was possible the recording was ignored and the murder covered up due to the alleged involvement of senior figures at Westminster.

“There is clear evidence that something was happening at that guesthouse,” she said. “If nothing has been done about it in retrospect, then Mr Mehrotra is right. Either the police disbelieved it, or they covered it up one way or another.

“I do remember that the officers were highly passionate about the Mehrotra case, but for some reason we never managed to get anywhere.”

Scotland Yard opened Operation Fairbank two years ago to look into suggestions that high-profile political figures had been involved in a VIP paedophile ring and subsequent cover up.

Officers have set up a new strand of the inquiry, Operation Midland, after being passed information about the three alleged murders connected to the group.

Miss Malton, who retired from Scotland Yard as a detective chief inspector in 1997, was the model for Jane Tennison, Dame Helen Mirren’s character in Prime Suspect. She was one of just four female DCIs in her Hammersmith-based squad when Linda La Plante worked with her for six months while researching her police series about a woman detective.

Working now as a full-time TV technical adviser and addiction counsellor, she claimed police officers during the 1980s often felt pressure from above when dealing with politically sensitive cases.

“Some inquiries would come to an end when someone senior said, ‘That’s enough’,” she said. “I remember a case where there was an MP accused of cottaging and it all kind of disappeared.”

Miss Malton said she had no specific evidence that officers in the Mehrotra case were leant on by politicians to drop their inquiries, and she never worked on the investigation into the Elm Guest House. But she said the influence of Westminster was felt throughout Scotland Yard during the 1980s.

“There was also a strong sense of the power of Parliament and of politicians. It was very much a case of ‘do as you are told’, she claimed. “There was certainly a culture of disbelief among the officers, and that often didn’t help to get to the truth. But the politicians were very much in power, and the police officers’ voices could often not be heard. It’s very different now. Back then, people were nowhere near as accountable for their actions.”

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, described the allegations as “grotesque” and echoed Mr Mehrotra’s calls for a proper investigation.

Simon Danczuk, the MP whose book exposed the former MP Cyril Smith as a serial abuser of boys, said he may raise the issue in the Commons today.

Mr Mehrotra on Wednesday said he had still not been contacted by officers investigating the alleged murders.

Bill Gardner

Lib Dem MP ‘told aide to destroy evidence of Cyril Smith’s sex abuse’: Candidate for party president accused of helping to cover up paedophile’s abuse

Published October 17, 2014 by JS2
  • Lib Dem presidency candidate alleged to help cover up paedophile’s abuse
  • Liz Lynne succeeded paedophile Cyril Smith as MP for Rochdale
  • Her aide claims to have taken notes of abuse allegations during phone call
  • Children’s home boss had called her in 1996 to discuss the abuse rumours
  • She said she was then told to destroy the notes, rather than bin them

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 02.59.05

A leading candidate for the Lib Dem presidency was yesterday accused of helping cover up Cyril Smith’s vile catalogue of child sex abuse.

Liz Lynne, who succeeded Smith as MP for Rochdale, allegedly ordered her PA to destroy several pages of notes containing a stream of allegations against the paedophile.

They detailed a litany of abuse at the Knowl View children’s home in Rochdale, which closed in the mid-1990s.

The PA, Deborah Doyle, said she had taken the notes during a 1996 telephone conversation with a former manager of the home, Martin Digan.

Mr Digan had contacted Miss Lynne’s office in Rochdale as claims of widespread abuse had begun to emerge at the home, where boys as young as ten had been raped. He claimed that Smith knew of abuse at the school and that it was being covered up by both the home and the local authority.

But Miss Doyle said her boss did not want to meet Mr Digan and instructed her to get rid of the notes. ‘I was surprised when Lynne said to me, “Don’t put the notes in the bin. Destroy them”,’ said Miss Doyle.

‘I think I took them home and put them on my fire,’ she said. ‘It was the only occasion I can remember when Liz or I did not act on a piece of constituency work, which is why it stuck in my memory.’

Liz Lynne, who was MP for Rochdale from 1992 to 1997, is one of four Lib Dems hoping to take over from Tim Farron as president of the party. Last night she denied all knowledge of the claims.

She told The Guardian she had no recollection of notes detailing child abuse allegations that were written or destroyed by a staff member.

And she said she did not remember being approached by Mr Digan, who was a former social worker at Knowl View. Earlier this year, the politician told the Mail how she had heard ‘inklings of rumours’ about Smith’s involvement in child abuse – but did nothing about it as she thought the stories were spread by political opponents.

The scale of the abuse was revealed in a book earlier this year by Simon Danczuk, the current MP for Rochdale. He said: ‘I am very distressed by this revelation, particularly as I repeatedly tried to contact Liz Lynne to hear her side of the story for our book on Cyril Smith. She never returned my calls and now I know why.

‘If Lynne had acted on the information she was given in 1996 then she could have saved lives as some of the abused boys have subsequently gone on to commit suicide.

‘For years victims have been ignored and Lynne had an opportunity to make a difference and champion their cause.

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Paedophile MP Cyril Smith, pictured in 1971. The scale of his abuse was revealed in a book earlier this year

‘But she was too afraid to stand up to Cyril Smith and that’s why she’s not fit to be anywhere near frontline politics, especially not as the next Lib Dem president.’

The Guardian reported yesterday that Deborah Doyle, who worked for the former MP between 1995 and 1997, said she took three or four pages of notes from a long telephone conversation with Mr Digan in 1996.

Miss Doyle revealed that when she was first offered a job in Miss Lynne’s office, she had to be personally interviewed by Smith.

‘It was like the 1950s. Everything had to go through Cyril, but he wasn’t even a councillor,’ she said

Miss Doyle said she left her job after Miss Lynne lost her seat in 1997 and went on to become an MEP for the West Midlands until she stood down in 2012. She was not entitled to redundancy pay, but Miss Lynne gave her £1,000 from her own pocket.

She said she told the police about the conversations – but does not know if they were acted upon.

She added: ‘Liz is essentially a good person. I am sure that if she had been forced to look into these allegations, she would have been horrified… but at the end of the day she is a politician and may not have felt comfortable taking on Smith.’

Mr Digan was responsible for passing a dossier of evidence to the police which eventually saw the school shut down in the 1990s.

He told the Guardian that he had arranged visits with Liz Lynne but they were always cancelled.

‘She never got back to me. The shame is that many abuse victims could have been helped if Lynne and many others had taken the abuse at Knowl View seriously at that point,’ he added.

Last night Miss Lynne said: ‘I have no recollection whatsoever of anybody contacting me about allegations against Cyril Smith or child abuse at Knowl View school.

‘If anyone had come to me with serious allegations like that I would obviously have acted upon it.’

Yesterday, at the Lib Dem conference in Glasgow, president Tim Farron appeared to joke about the party’s slew of sex scandals.

He said: ‘Of course there are some parts of the job I am happy to pass on. The next time any of you get caught with your pants around your ankles, the media can call someone else to make a comment.’

Daniel Martin

Police investigating three physical and sexual abuse claims at school linked to late MP Sir Cyril Smith

Published May 22, 2013 by JS2

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The allegations centre around Knowl View Special School in Rochdale, where Sir Cyril was chairman of governors.

 

Three complaints of physical and sexual abuse of pupils at a school linked to the late MP Sir Cyril Smith are now being investigated by police.

The allegations centre around Knowl View Special School in Rochdale, where Sir Cyril was chairman of governors.

The three alleged victims are believed to have been interviewed on video by officers from Greater Manchester Police’s public protection division.

A leading detective said today the investigation was ‘building up a picture of the regime’ in place at the school from the 1970s onwards.

In a statement Det Insp Caroline Ward said: “Following the publicity surrounding Sir Cyril Smith last year, a small number of people came forward to report physical and sexual abuse which occurred at Knowl View from the 1970s onwards.

“Those allegations relate to physical and sexual abuse that took place between pupils and adults at the school and these complaints are currently being investigated by officers from Greater Manchester Police’s public protection division.

“The allegations we have received are building up a picture of the regime that was in place at Knowl View at that time, and I would encourage anyone who was a victim of either sexual or physical abuse to come forward and speak to police as the more evidence we have the better the chances of bringing abusers to justice.

“We totally understand that for many people they will not want to relive the abuse they suffered, but for those who do want to come forward I want to give you complete confidence that your complaints will be treated seriously and thoroughly investigated.”

Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk today welcomed the news – and said he hoped the investigation would lead to prosecutions.

The residential school, for pupils with behavioural difficulties, was shut down in 1994 after a dossier detailing abuse was handed to police.

The police investigation follows allegations which first emerged last year that former Liberal Democrat MP Sir Cyril Smith abused boys. In November police acknowledged that the politician sexually and physically abused young boys in the 1960s.

Smith, who was elected to Parliament in 1972, was dogged by rumours of abuse but charges were never brought.

But both Greater Manchester Police and the Crown Prosecution Service said that if Smith had been accused today, he would be charged and prosecuted.

A month later the M.E.N. told how files revealed that at least a quarter of Knowl View’s 48 pupils had been victims of horrific sexual abuse – including boys as young as eight.

The files did not specifically name Sir Cyril Smith, but a whistleblower and a former head of care at the school, Martin Digan, said he feared Sir Cyril was among those abusing boys at the home.

Mr Danczuk said today he was unaware of reports that 10 suspects were being investigated by police in relation to the school.

He said: “I am very pleased that police are putting more effort into investigating these horrific crimes. I wrote to Sir Peter Fahy, the chief constable, some months ago urging him to look at this case.

“There are not many crimes worse than taking away a child’s childhood. I have met victims, and they have been devastated for years by this.

“There is no doubt about it. There was organised abuse at Knowl View. It should have been better investigated.

“Some people raised concerns about it many years ago and for whatever reason, no action was taken.

“I hope that there will be potential prosecutions. People should confess.”

 

by Paul Britton