Leon Brittan, the former Home Secretary, has repeatedly faced with allegations that he failed to act when he was handed dossier containing allegations of a VIP paedophile ring in the 1980s.
The dossier was submitted to the Home Office by Geoffrey Dickens, the late Tory MP, in 1983 but no record of any subsequent criminal inquiry has been found and the dossier itself has disappeared.
Lord Brittan, who was Home Secretary under the late Baroness Thatcher from 1983 to 1985, told journalists last year he had no recollection of it but last week said he had been handed a “substantial bundle of papers” by Mr Dickens.
The peer was also accused of “improper conduct with children” by a labour MP in the Commons in October last year, sparking a row over parliamentary privilege.
During a Commons debate on coalfield communities last night, Mr Hood said: “By the way, the current exposé of Sir Leon Brittan [sic], the then home secretary, with accusations of improper conduct with children will not come as a surprise to striking miners of 1984.”
Conor Burns, the Conservative MP for Bournemouth West, said: “He has just made very profound, serious accusations against a noble lord. Is that in order?” Lindsay Hoyle, the Deputy Speaker, said that he had not heard Mr Hood’s comments but added: “It’s up to each member to decide what they said and they must make that decision.”
However, Mr Hood continued: “The rumours that Sir Leon Brittan was involved with misconduct with children does not come as news to miners who were striking in 1984.
“When miners were going up into the dock in magistrates’ courts we were aware and miners were declaring … the point is miners were saying in the dock in magistrates’ courts throughout the strike that they objected to instructions coming from the home secretary when there was reports about child abuse being linked with that same home secretary.”
In July last year Lord Brittan denied being guilty of rape after being questioned by the police over an alleged sexual offence.
It was revealed at the weekend that Lord Brittan was this year questioned under caution over an allegation of rape dating back to 1967.
The alleged offence is said to have taken place at Lord Brittan’s London flat.
In a statement issued through his solicitors, the Conservative peer said: “It is true that I have been questioned by the police about a serious allegation made against me. This allegation is wholly without foundation.”
Home Secretary Theresa May answers an urgent question about historical child sex abuse claims
Allegations of “unnatural sexual” behaviour at Westminster contained in a file found at the National Archives may have already been seen by an inquiry into the Home Office’s handling of historic sex abuse claims, Theresa May has said.
The Home Secretary said the previously top-secret file may be a duplicate of one that was already looked at by NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless and barrister Richard Whittam QC’s inquiry into paedophile ring allegations in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
University lecturer Dr Chris Murphy uncovered the once-classified document late last year at the archives in Kew, south west London.
Mrs May was answering an urgent question from shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper on the the current institutional child sex abuse inquiry.
After being questioned on the file, which was marked to indicate it had passed through former prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s office, Mrs May told the Commons: “You have made reference to the file that has come to light.
“We are checking that today but as I understand it we believe it may be a duplicate of a file that was at the Home Office which was seen by Wanless and Whittam during their review but of course we are checking that.
“Any allegations in relation to that file will be passed to the police and those concerned to ensure that they are looked at properly.”
The file which was found by Dr Murphy in November came to light yesterday.
It was entitled: “PREM19/588 – SECURITY. Allegations against former public (word missing) of unnatural sexual proclivities; security aspects 1980 Oct 27 – 1981 Mar 20.”
The “PREM” category of files covers documents and correspondence that passed through the prime minister’s office. Sir Bernhard Ingham, former press secretary of Mrs Thatcher, told reporters he could not recall the file.
The Cabinet Office has said the file was “kept closed and retained as it contained information from the security services and advice from the Law Officers” but that any documents pertinent to the sex abuse inquiry would be passed to it.
Mrs May set up the inquiry in July to find out whether public bodies had neglected or covered up allegations of child sex abuse in the wake of claims paedophiles had operated in Westminster in the 1980s.
She announced today that a new chair would be appointed by the end of the month following a series of problems, including the resignation of two previous chairs over their alleged links to Establishment figures of the time.
The Home Secretary will also decide whether it will take the form of a statutory inquiry or a royal commission by the end of January, with both options having the power to compel witnesses and full access to evidence.
Mrs May said: “I am clear that the new chairman must be someone who commands that confidence and who has the necessary skills and experience to carry out this vital work.
“In my work to find that person, as I told the House I would do, I have undertaken a number of meetings with the survivors of child abuse and their representative bodies And I have been deeply moved by the candour and the courage they have shown in telling me their harrowing stories and the experiences they have been through.
“I am absolutely committed to finding them the right chairman to ensure they get the answers they deserve.
“But not only does this inquiry need the right Chairman, it also needs the right powers.
“That means the ability to compel witnesses, and full access to all the necessary evidence.
“In December I wrote to panel members to set out the three options which could give the inquiry these powers.
“I confirmed those options in my evidence that month to the Home Affairs Select Committee, and I also confirmed that I would make my decision on the right model for the inquiry and the chairman by the end of January.
“It remains my intention to make a statement to the House shortly after I have made that decision and after the necessary interviews and careful due diligence work have taken place.”
Ms Cooper called for the inquiry to be scrapped and relaunched with a new chair and statutory powers.
The Labour frontbencher said: “Since November the allegations have become more serious.
“The police are now investigating allegations of child murder involving senior figures linked to Dolphin Square.
“A government file has emerged containing further potential allegations of abuse, clearly not seen by the Wanless review.
“These need to be investigated by the police, not just an inquiry, but it makes it even more vital that a serious and credible inquiry is under way with the confidence of the public and survivors.
“Given the seriousness of this, I now fear there is no choice but to start this inquiry again properly with a new chair and statutory powers and proper consideration of the scope and purpose involving the survivors themselves.
“This should not be beyond the wit of the Home Secretary.”
Mrs May came under pressure to publish the file from MPs including campaigner Labour’s Simon Danzcuk (Rochdale), who said the inquiry was starting to make Chilcot look “punctual and efficient”.
He asked: “Why doesn’t the Government now publish that file so that we can judge its importance?”
The Home Secretary replied: “My understanding is that the Cabinet Office file is being looked at. They are looking at the file making sure it can be passed to the National Archives.
“That would of course effectively make it public. That may require some redaction to take place.
“But I think everybody is aware that we want to ensure that the information that needs to be available is available.”
Labour’s Tom Watson (West Bromwich East), who has also campaigned on the issue, said there was a “clear public interest” in knowing whether a former prime minister had received a briefing on sexual crimes allegedly committed by a senior intelligence officer or officers.
He went on: “Regardless of whether the inquiry gets to see the document, can you not commit to publish the document now in the public interest or at least commit to give it to members of the Home Affairs Select Committee as part of their inquiry?”
Mrs May said again that the file had been passed to the police, adding: “I can assure the House that the file will be made available as it is my intention that all files should be made available to the inquiry.
“So it can be appropriately looked at and considered in the work they are doing.”
Labour’s Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak), a former social worker, then added his voice to the call for publication suggesting it should only take a few days to establish whether the document was indeed a duplicate.
He said: “Given the cloud of suspicion, I can’t believe it can take more than a couple of days to clarify whether it is a duplicate or a withheld file.
“Will you agree to come back to the House next week and tell us which it is?”
Mrs May said she would cover the issue of the file in the statement she makes on the chairmanship of the inquiry panel, due before the end of this month.
The Home Secretary was also criticised for the delays to the inquiry.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said Mrs May was “in danger of losing control of the process” and raised concerns about the allegation of bullying of a panel member by the inquiry’s barrister.
Mrs May said survivor Sharon Evans’s complaint had been investigated and no evidence of bullying found by Ben Emmerson QC.
Labour’s Sarah Champion (Rotherham) said the inquiry had now become a “farce” and her veteran colleague David Winnick (Walsall North) said even someone with the aim of sabotage could not have done a better job of throwing it off course.
He said: “If someone had set out to wreck the whole process from the very beginning, that person could not have done a more effective job. It is a tragedy.
“As far as the survivors are concerned, what has occurred is a tragedy, first that they were abused and now what appears to them at least is a farce since the inquiry was first established.”
Labour’s Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) asked Mrs May if she had considered resigning over the inquiry.
He said: “There have been a lot of casualties in this very sensitive process. Have you, with the great authority that the Home Office holds, have you ever considered that you might be the problem?
“Have you considered the unthinkable? Have you considered resigning?”
Mrs May said she was firmly committed to getting the inquiry up and running fully with a chairman.
She added: “I have apologised to the House. I have apologised to survivors for the fact that two chairmen resigned.
“But I also say to you it is this Government that has agreed to set up this inquiry. Yes we are now in a position where we have to look at a further chairman. But we have an inquiry set up in terms of a panel.
“We have an intention to ensure the inquiry does get fully up and running with a chairman and that we get to the truth. That is what everybody wants.”
Conservative Philip Hollobone (Kettering) asked whether Mrs May had been able to cut the long list of candidates for the new chairman down to a shortlist.
She said it was now “quite a short list” but would not go further than that.
Labour’s Paul Flynn (Newport West) suggested the Government look again at the scope of the inquiry given the vast areas to be covered, including allegations that whips concealed evidence of paedophilia by MPs so they could blackmail them in the division lobbies.
Telegraph & Argus
Mrs May said it was important not to leave out any matters.
A teenage boy working at Buckingham Palace revealed he was groomed and sexually abused by a VIP paedophile ring there.
The lad was also assaulted at the Royal Family’s Scottish retreat Balmoral, according to shocking Home Office files, reports the Sunday People.
In a heartbreaking note, the boy – then just 16 – told how he was the victim of “exploitation of the highest order”.
The chilling claims could now be the subject of a police investigation into historic allegations of child sex abuse in the 1970s and 80s – linked to MPs and powerful figures.
The disturbing account was passed directly to the then Home Secretary Leon Brittan but he ruled it was “not practical” to investigate.
Campaigning Labour MP Tom Watson said: “I’m sure the Palace will want to co-operate with any inquiry.”
A Palace spokesman said: “The Royal Household takes any allegation of this nature seriously and would act to address any specific allegations or investigate specific information.”
The Sunday People and the investigations website Exaro have established that the Home Office file contains evidence of a letter written by the boy’s mother.
She wrote to campaigning MP Geoffrey Dickens, fearing that her son had been groomed by a paedophile ring while working at the Buckingham Palace kitchens.
The boy was 16 at the time, putting him below the age of homosexual consent which was then 21 in England.
In Scotland homosexuality was still totally illegal.
Mr Dickens said at the time: “The boy told his parents he had beensexually abused by members of the Royal Household at the Palace.
“I am concerned the Palace could be part of a chain supplying young men to paedophiles in the diplomatic service.”
The 16-year-old went to work at the Palace in the early 1970s. After a few months his family noticed he was acting strangely.
A family friend told Exaro: “Things were OK when he first joined the Palace staff.
“After a few months, things started to turn a little strange.”
After what the source described as an “incident” at Balmoral, the royal family’s Scottish home, the boy’s parents were told by a close friend who also worked at Buckingham Palace that their son was being sexually abused there.
The source added: “They got wind of this after an incident at Balmoral when he screamed in the night.”
The concerned friend, who worked for the royals at the time, immediately alerted the boy’s parents.
He told them: “This is something that you should have nothing to do with.”
Reports from the time reveal further details of the boy’s ordeal.
One says his parents discovered a handwritten note from him.
It read: “What Buckingham Palace did for me was exploitation of the highest order.”
The boy’s mother said at the time: “My son was happy and normal until he went there.
“Then he changed completely. He refused to talk to us or discuss what he was up to.”
The boy’s father also claimed that young Palace staff were lavished with expensive gifts for “entertaining men”.
He added: “In some cases Palace officials were involved.
“Afterwards, the servants got good references to take up posts abroad with wealthy employers.”
According to the Home Office files, the desperate parents wrote to Geoffrey Dickens for help.
The MP raised the mother’s concerns with the Home Secretary in 1983.
But Mr Dickens received a reply saying Leon Brittan felt it would not be practical to carry out a detailed investigation.
He wrote: “I need hardly assure you that the Royal Household is extremely concerned at these unsubstantiated allegations and it is, of course, their policy to take every step to avoid an occurrence of such as is alleged.
There is nobody currently employed in the Royal Household who is under the age of 18.”
Mr Brittan indicated that her son had worked at Buckingham Palace for a year, adding: “It is extremely difficult to comment on the accuracy of the allegations in the letter.”
But an even more chilling development is contained in the files, lending weight to the claims that a paedophile VIP ring was linked to the Palace.
During his time at Buckingham Palace, the 16-year-old was approached by notorious paedophile Sir Peter Hayman and was asked to work for him in Canada, where he was ambassador.
Hayman has been identified as a member of the VIP paedophile ring operating in Westminster and is known to have had royal connections.
He was desperate to have the boy working for him, even writing to his parents to ask them about taking his son on as a footman. Hayman said the boy would need winter clothes.
The parents never found out how Hayman knew their son.
But the source said: “They knew there was something wrong.”
The parents were so concerned by Hayman’s approach that they attempted to stop their son working for him, the family friend explained.
Exaro has established that the boy’s parents intervened to stop him going to Canada to work for Hayman.
Mr Watson, who has led the campaign for a full-scale inquiry into claims of child sex abuse at the heart of the Establishment, said: “In light of what we now know, any allegation of sexual crimes regarding Peter Hayman should be thoroughly investigated.
“He was protected by the Establishment at the time.
“The full extent of how his conduct was covered up has not been explained.”
The parents and their son have declined to comment on the allegations.
But the revelations link Buckingham Palace to a paedophile network of MPs and powerful figures that operated over many years in the UK.
Palace officials have already been linked to the notorious brothel the Elm Guest House in South West London.
Police are investigating archives on Hayman in a bid to find his links to other Establishment paedophiles.
“An abuse survivor, known as “Nick” to protect his identity, named one of his many VIP attackers as Hayman.
Nick picked Hayman out from a collection of pictures that Exaro showed to him, placing him at abuse parties with other paedophiles.
An appendix to a review by the Home Office last year reveals one of their missing files was called: “Sir Peter Hayman (1980-81 Papers Ex-Diplomat’s Intriguing Private Life).”
Keir Muddie, Mark Watts
An MP feared he was on a ‘hit list’ after drawing up a dossier that threatened to expose a suspected Westminster paedophile ring, a close friend has claimed
Tory Geoffrey Dickens was so afraid he hid copies of his damning files – naming eight public figures suspected of child abuse – in a “safe place”.
The MP also told Geoff Hope he had a secret alliance with former Labour minister Barbara Castle, who had her own dossier naming 16 MPs and Lords.
Both politicians’ claims are at the heart of a public inquiry and police investigation into allegations of child sex abuse at Westminster in 70s and 80s.
The late Mr Dickens handed the then Home Secretary Leon Brittan his dossier in 1983. It has since gone missing.
Mr Hope, 83, has decided to speak out after being disgusted by theWanless Report, a Home Office inquiry that has failed to locate the documents.
He said: “Geoffrey feared repercussions for his family and friends. He said he had names that would ‘blow the roof off Westminster’.”
Mr Hope ran a service station near Mr Dickens’ constituency home and was a family friend. He said the MP came in with his dossier in the 80s.
“He used to pop in on Saturdays for a chat,” said Mr Hope. “This time he had a document case. I jokingly asked if it was full of money but he said it was his research into paedophiles.
“He said MPs, people in the church, and in other high places were involved.
“He told me he was worried for his own welfare and would be worried for my safety if he showed me the contents.
“I said he could use my photocopier to make a copy to keep safe, but he said he’d already done it. I told him to go to Scotland Yard but he thought the Met and Special Branch had been infiltrated by them.”
Mr Hope said the MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth in Greater Manchester told him he believed he was on a “hit list”.
Mr Dickens, who died of cancer in 1995, campaigned for more than a decade to expose the alleged ring and its links to the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) which wanted a Bill to legalise sex with children.
By Don Hale