Lord Brittan

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Police search home of Lord Bramall as part of paedophile sex abuse inquiry

Published March 8, 2015 by JS2

Scotland Yard officers swoop on Surrey home of former chief of the defence staff, Baron Bramall of Bushfield, as well as properties linked with Lord Brittan in a co-ordinated operation

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Police investigating claims of a paedophile ring involving some of Britain’s most powerful figures have searched the home of one of Britain’s most senior former soldiers.

Scotland Yard detectives swooped on the family home of Field Marshall Lord Bramall of Bushfield, the former chief of the defence staff and a D-Day veteran.

It is not known whether Lord Bramall, 91, was present at the property at a leafy village near                                                                                                                                     Farnham, Surrey, when the search took place.

Lord Bramall, pictured in 2000

It was part of a co-ordinated operation last week which also targeted properties belonging to Lord Brittan of Spennithorne, the former home secretary, just six weeks after his death.

Lord Brittan’s family home near Leyburn, North Yorkshire, and his property in Pimlico, north London, were visited by detectives from the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Midland, which was set up to investigate claims of child sex abuse by Westminster politicans and other VIPs.

The raids took place at the same time last Wednesday as police searches at the Lincolnshire home of Harvey Proctor, the former Conservative MP who was embroiled in a scandal involving male prostitutes in 1986, the Sunday Mirror reported.

Lord Brittan died in January aged 75 following a long fight against cancer.

About 20 officers from Operation Midland are understood to have taken part in the co-ordinated searches.

Forensics officers were also involved, it is understood.

Lord Brittan, who died in January

As Edwin Bramall, Eton-educated Lord Bramall commanded a platoon at the D-Day landings and led the Army as chief of the general staff during the Falklands campaign.

He was awarded the Military Cross in 1945.

Harvey Proctor, pictured in 1987

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “We can confirm officers from Operation Midland, on Wednesday March 4, conducted searches at an address in Westminster, an address in Leyburn, an address in Farnham and an address in Grantham in connection with their inquiries.”

There was no answer at Lord Bramall’s home on Sunday.

The gates of the two-storey £750,000 cottage-style house were open and a woman could be seen upstairs, but no-one came to the white-painted front door when reporters knocked.

A black VW Golf and a black Ford Fiesta were parked on the long gravel driveway of the large house.

Neighbours described the police operation at Lord Bramall’s cottage early on Wednesday morning.

One woman who emerged from a nearby property said: “I saw the police, they were here for most of the day. There were lots of cars in the driveway.

“I’ve no idea why they needed so many, he’s an elderly man.”

Drinkers outside the Plume and Feathers public house in the village said they had noticed what was going on at around 9am.

A man aged in his 60s, who asked not to be named, said: “I saw some people say could they help. They were trying to ask what was going on, and they said they were Met police.

“The people said they could see that while one of the police cars was marked, most of them were not.

“Some of the officers were wearing flak jacket body armour.”

Another women who lives nearby, who is in her 60s, said: “As if you need body armour to attend the house of a man in his nineties, it’s ridiculous.

“I know they are only doing their job but that seems very unnecessary indeed.”

The police inquiry has focused on claims that VIPs abused children in the Seventies and Eighties.

But last year senior officers was confirmed the operation had become a murder investigation examining links between alleged abuse and the deaths of three boys.

By David Barrett

Westminster abuse inquiries: At least 10 famous politicians ‘named again and again’ by child abuse helpline callers

Published December 9, 2014 by JS2

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Child protection campaigners say at least 10 “famous” current and former politicians will now face being investigated over allegations of historic abuse.

The figures, including a number who are now dead, have been identified “again and again” by callers to child abuse helplines, it has been claimed.

It comes as Theresa May announced an independent inquiry will look into how the state and other institutions have handled accusations of abuse over the past four decades.

Dr Jon Bird, of the National Association for People Abused In Childhood (Napac), said it looked like the 10 politicians will “at last” face up to the accusations – and warned that he expected more allegations to follow.

He told Sky News: “The names of people in very high places – politicians, senior police officers and even some judges – have been going around as alleged abusers for a very long time.

“Since the Jimmy Savile revelations, there’s been a sea change in the way police and the CPS respond to these sort of complaints and now, at last, it looks like these people are going to be investigated.”

Peter McKelvie, a former child protection manager, said he believed that the number of “prominent figures” linked to an alleged Westminster paedophile network could be “upwards of 20”.

He told the BBC’s Newsnight programme that there was also “a much larger number of people who have known about it and done nothing about it, who were in a position to do something about it”.

Today Mark Sedwill, the most senior civil servant at the Home Office, will be questioned by MPs over the department’s handling of child abuse allegations made over a 20 year period.

The permanent secretary will appear before the home affairs select committee amid questions over the quality of a review he commissioned last year.

Lord-Brittan

Lord Brittan has admitted receiving a file with allegations of an abuse network, but denied any suggestion of a cover-upLord Brittan, the home secretary in Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government from 1983 to 1985, has faced questions over his handling of a dossier, compiled at the time by the late Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens, which contained allegations of a predatory paedophile network operating in and around Westminster.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless has been asked by Ms May to look into the adequacy of the probe into the way claims were dealt with and the response of police and prosecutors to information which was passed on to them.

And she revealed that a wider inquiry, carried out by an independent panel of experts and given access to all the Government papers it requests, could be converted into a full public inquiry if its chairman – who is yet to be appointed – feels it is necessary.

It is unlikely to report before next year’s general election, but Ms May promised that an update on its progress will be given to Parliament before May 2015.

Prime Minister David Cameron said his Government would leave “no stone unturned” in seeking the truth about widespread allegations of a paedophile ring with links to the establishment in the 1980s.

Child abuse claims did not involve prominent politicians, report finds

Published November 11, 2014 by JS2

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Wanless inquiry into missing Home Office files also finds no evidence they were deliberately or systematically destroyed

Specific allegations of child abuse made by the former Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens were taken seriously by Lord Brittan when he was home secretary, but they did not involve prominent politicians or celebrities, according to a new Home Office file uncovered by the Wanless inquiry.

Peter Wanless, the chief executive of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), concludes in his inquiry report into 114 missing Home Office files relating to child abuse in the 1980s that there is no evidence that they were “deliberately or systematically removed or destroyed to cover up organised child abuse”.

Wanless says the record keeping practices inside the Home Office at the time mean it is not possible to reach a categorical conclusion but “we found nothing specific to support a concern that the Home Office had failed in any organised or deliberate way to identify or refer individual allegations of child abuse to the police”.

The home secretary, Theresa May, responded to Wanless’s review of the original Home Office internal investigation into the missing files by asking him to look further at how the police and prosecution authorities handled the child abuse allegations that were passed on to them by the Home Office at the time.

She has also asked Wanless and his co-author, Richard Whittam QC, to establish whether any of the material mentioned in the internal inquiry or in connection with the 114 missing files was passed to the security services, and if so, what action they took.

MI5 responded to the Wanless inquiry by carrying out a search of its own files but said it had not found any relevant to the review.

Wanless says that one relevant 1983 Home Office file, the “Brighton assaults” file, was found after the initial investigation had been completed. It contains correspondence between officials and ministers relating to meetings between Brittan and Dickens in 1983 and 1984, mostly prompted by a desire to respond to a horrific attack on a child in Brighton that had led to front-page headlines.

The file includes a paper setting out the case for and against banning the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) that was presented to Brittan on 31 August 1983. “He is recorded in discussion as accepting advice that, with ongoing police investigation into PIE activities, it was not right to be commenting further on banning the organisation,” reports Wanless.

It also contains a departmental briefing for Brittan for a meeting with Dickens on 24 November when he handed over two letters containing specific allegations. In addition, it contains a subsequent letter from Dickens with further enclosed cases for investigation and thanking the home secretary for his “splendid support”.

The cases were passed on to the director of public prosecutions and Dickens was subsequently told that two of the cases could form the basis for police investigations.

“There is no mention of prominent politicians or celebrities in the cases under discussion [in marked contrast to media commentary about these meetings at the time],” adds Wanless.

The inquiry also reviewed the evidence of alleged funding of PIE by the Home Office’s voluntary services unit and concludes on the balance of probabilities that it did not take place. They say they cannot dismiss entirely evidence from a whistleblower that PIE might have been funded as part of a police or security service effort to infiltrate the organisation but found no evidence to support it.

Alan Travis

Pressure mounts on child abuse inquiry chair to quit after victims say she is ‘beyond the pale’ for dining with top Tory Leon Brittan

Published October 22, 2014 by JS2

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  • Theresa May appointed Fiona Woolf after her original choice quit
  • Lady Butler-Sloss stepped down because her brother was attorney general 
  • But Woolf admitted she is a dinner party friend of top Tory Leon Brittan 
  • Brittan rejects claims he failed to act on 1980s dossier of abuse allegations 
  • Lawyer for victims said Mrs Woolf was ‘beyond the pale’ over links
  • Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg distances himself from Mrs Woolf 
  • Victim of child sex abuse launches legal challenge to her appointment

The new chairman of the government inquiry into child sex abuse is facing growing pressure to resign today – after victims dismissed her as ‘beyond the pale’ over her links to top Tory Leon Brittan.

Fiona Woolf admitted she entertained Lord Brittan and his wife three times at dinner parties at her house, and twice went to his central London home for dinner. The former Home Secretary is accused of burying a dossier on child sex abuse given to him in 1983.

It emerged however that the list of meetings with Lord Brittan which she gave to MPs may have been incomplete, after a photograph surfaced showing her chatting to the Torry peer’s wife at a prize-giving last October.

Lawyer Alison Millar representing child abuse victims said the revelations showed Mrs Woolf was not fit to oversee the official inquiry. A victim of historical child sexual abuse has also launched a legal challenge to Mrs Woolf’s appointment.

Nick Clegg today distanced himself from Mrs Woolf and a host of MPs called for her to step down.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the decision to pick Mrs Woolf, the Lord Mayor of London, had been made after ‘an extensive process and recommendation’ by Home Secretary Theresa May.

But the Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron went further and called for her to quit. He said: ‘This is Theresa May’s appointment and again it looks like she has picked someone whose independence can be seriously questioned.’ Labour frontbenchers Jim Murphy and Caroline Flint also called for her to step down.

Asked whether Mrs Woolf should step down, Ms Millar – represents a number of abuse victims whose cases are likely to be raised in the inquiry – said: ‘Yes. I think this evidence of dinner parties with Lord Brittan really puts her beyond the pale in terms of her credibility with my clients.’

Ms Millar told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘This is not about Fiona Woolf’s ability or her integrity. This is about her independence and her ability to lead this inquiry in a way that is credible to the survivors of abuse whom I represent.

‘The people that I am in contact with because they are my clients, or I am in contact with otherwise, the general view among them is that Fiona Woolf really does not have the necessary credibility to lead what is such an important inquiry for them.

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Abuse survivor Phil Frampton, who supports other victims of abuse in care homes, told the Today programme: ‘I am absolutely appalled at Fiona Woolf’s appointment. It’s like putting Wayne Rooney in charge of an investigation of the nuclear energy industry.

‘What appals me is that this is about very, very serious crimes and horror for children, and adults who are living with it still. It’s like putting a few puppets in place to deal with the seriousness of the situation.’

Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming called on Mrs Woolf to stand down, describing her appointment as ‘a mistake’. Mr Hemming, who was one of the first MPs to call for an inquiry, told the BBC:

‘Appointing Fiona Woolf is … a mistake. She’s clearly a fully fledged member of the establishment. I think she should stand down because an independent observer would think there’s a possibility of bias.’

Another victim of alleged abuse in local authority care, who could not be named for legal reasons, told the Today programme: ‘Everyone deserves a chance, but I thought she lacks a huge amount of credibility from a victim’s perspective.

‘She talks about ‘victim communities’. There is no such thing as a victim community. All the victims have had to live their lives in mainstream society carrying some terrible, terrible scars and being ostracised by society by and large.

‘And yet we have the lord mayor of London to represent victims. It’s laughable.’

Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk, who led the campaign for an inquiry, said Mrs Woolf and Lord Brittan were ‘clearly good friends’ and she should stand down.

Mr Danczuk said she seemed ‘out of her depth’ in her appearance before the MPs’ committee yesterday. And he made the extraordinary claim the Home Office may have been trying to ‘protect’ Lord Brittan with the appointment.

‘I have serious concerns about the relationship between Fiona Woolf and Leon Brittan,’ he said. ‘He is surely somebody who has to be investigated as part of the inquiry – not least because of his role as Home Secretary at the time.

‘The public will be concerned they are trying to protect Lord Brittan.’

He added: ‘The vast majority of people I know, if you have somebody round for dinner in your home, you would consider them a good friend. She should not be doing this job.’

Lord Brittan is likely to be called to give evidence to the inquiry about allegations – which he denies – that in his time as Home Secretary in the Eighties he was at the centre of an Establishment cover-up of sex abuse claims.

Mrs Woolf, who lives on the same street as the peer, also met his wife for coffee several times, sat on a prize-giving panel with her, and sponsored her £50 for a charity run.

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Former Home Secretary Lord Brittan is accused of failing to act on a dossier about alleged VIP paedophile rings given to him by MP Geoffrey Dickens in 1983.

The peer has denied the claims. Mrs Woolf, giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday, insisted the inquiry would ‘relentlessly uncover the truth for the victims’.

Details of Mrs Woolf’s contacts with the Brittans emerged in a letter she sent to Home Secretary Theresa May, published yesterday.She said they lived on the same street since 2004, and invited the couple to a party at her home in January 2008, October 2008 and February 2009.

She also attended dinner parties hosted by Lord Brittan in November 2009 and February 2012. Mrs Woolf told the committee she was given Home Office help in drafting the letter.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, the committee chairman, said it was a ‘bit odd’ a draft of the letter was seen by the Home Office before it was sent to Mrs May. ‘Surely you should have written your own letter?’ he asked.

Labour MP Paul Flynn pointed out the first choice as inquiry chair, Lady Butler-Sloss, had withdrawn because her brother was Attorney General during some of the period in question. ‘You seem to be an Establishment figure as well. Shouldn’t you resign in the interest of the report being accepted?’ he asked.

Labour MP for Bassetlaw John Mann said it was ‘totally impossible’ for Mrs Woolf to chair the inquiry.

Mrs Woolf was given the full backing of Downing Street and the Home Office. A Number 10 spokesman insisted Mrs Woolf had the Prime Minister’s confidence, and she and the panel would ‘carry out their duties to the high standards of integrity required’.

Before MPs Mrs Woolf, a former president of the Law Society and the current Lord Mayor of London, insisted she was not a member of the Establishment and was an ‘ordinary solicitor’. She said Lord Brittan was ‘one of thousands’ of people she knew in London.

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Tom Mctague