The investigation of alleged corruption in the Metropolitan Police relating to child sex offences from the 1970s to the 2000s leaves a lot to be desired, writes Steven Walker
The news that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating 14 separate referrals of alleged corruption in the Metropolitan Police relating to child sex offences from the 1970s to the 2000s might at first glance be seen as hopeful, especially to survivors of child sexual abuse who are pinning their hopes on receiving justice.
But the Home Secretary’s qualified answer to a question put to her by the home affairs select committee regarding immunity for police officers from prosecution under the Official Secrets Act gave the game away.
Her lack of certainty is guaranteed to stop any police officer coming forward with relevant information for the IPCC.
This latest twist in the long-running scandal of an Establishment cover-up of historic sexual abuse against vulnerable children could have another consequence. The long-delayed Goddard inquiry has just got under way after two false starts with inquiry heads acknowledged as too close to the Establishment and unable to secure the confidence of sexual abuse survivors.
But with these twin investigations pursuing parallel courses, covering much of the same ground and focussing on the activities of notorious paedophile Cyril Smith and other MPs, there is a danger of confusion and potential legal conundrums. This could lead to witnesses being called by both inquiries and evidence compromised.
The result could be a legal nightmare leading to stalemate and further delay at best. All of which will suit the Establishment which on past record is very adept at concealing truth, losing evidence and making sure the tracks of abusers are completely covered.
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg still refuses to order a full-scale investigation into which senior Liberal Party figures knew all about Cyril Smith and his prolific paedophile activity.
Conservatives Edwina Currie, Gyles Brandreth and Rod Richards have previously made damning statements of how well known in Westminster circles it was that MP Peter Morrison was a dangerous paedophile and yet his career was unaffected as he rose to be deputy chairman of the Conservative Party. He was Margaret Thatcher’s parliamentary private secretary in 1990 and her campaign manager that same year despite this knowledge having been around for many years.
Tim Fortescue, Edward Heath’s Chief Whip from 1970-73, made public on Michael Cockerell’s BBC documentary in 1995 Westminster’s Secret Service that there was a tried and tested method for cover-ups named the dirt book system.
Talking about the role of the chief whip, Fortescue said: “For anyone with any sense who was in trouble would come to the whips and tell them the truth … a scandal involving small boys … we would do everything we can because we would store up brownie points and if I mean, that sounds a pretty, pretty nasty reason, but it’s one of the reasons because if we could get a chap out of trouble then, he will do as we ask forever more.”
Just after announcing, 18 months ago, that the Metropolitan Police were about to arrest a former Tory Cabinet minister,
Commander Peter Spindler, who had been leading the police criminal investigation into organised paedophiles sexually abusing young children from a council children’s home in Richmond upon Thames, was taken off the investigation and moved sideways to another job.
The suggestion is that powerful figures had complained about Spindler’s work in pursuing three major paedophile investigations and he had to be stopped.
More evidence of an Establishment cover-up has emerged as another former local newspaper executive has now claimed that he too was issued with an official warning against reporting on an exclusive paedophile ring, when he was interviewed by an officer working for Operation Fernbridge, the major criminal investigation examining very specific claims of sexual abuse and grooming of children.
Hilton Tims told a Fernbridge detective that his paper, the Surrey Comet, was issued with a D notice in 1984 — an official warning not to publish intelligence that might damage national security — when he sought to report on a police investigation into the notorious Elm Guest House. This is the guest house where Cyril Smith MP and other Establishment figures preyed upon vulnerable children taken there from a nearby children’s home.
Tims joins a list of newspaper editors who have gone on record to testify that similar gagging action took place around the same time. They include Don Hale, former editor of the Bury Messenger who recalled that Special Branch officers seized a paedophile dossier naming Establishment figures drawn up by Labour peer Barbara Castle in the 1980s.
Officers citing “national security” confiscated the file which listed 16 MPs along with other local VIPs.
The dossier was collated with help from concerned social workers by the former Labour MP for Blackburn who personally handed it to him. As well as key members of both the Commons and Lords, the dossier named 30 prominent businessmen, public school teachers, scoutmasters and police officers who had links to the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), a group dedicated to legalising sex with young children.
Under the 30-year secrecy rule the National Archives has just released a file prepared for Thatcher which details the paedophile activities of Sir Peter Hayman, a former career diplomat and head of MI6. He was named by Geoffrey Dickens MP in the House of Commons when his name along with many other MPs and government officials, was discovered in a dossier Dickens had collated.
This file is the first clear evidence that Thatcher herself was part of the cover-up.
The director of public prosecutions at the time did nothing either despite correspondence within the dossier showing Hayman’s link to the PIE and evidence of his interest in the sexual torture of young children.
This lack of action mirrored those of the then home secretary Leon Brittan who did nothing and allowed the dossier to get lost in the Home Office.
The historic child sexual abuse scandal continues as the Establishment settle down for the longterm, safe in the knowledge that their sordid secrets are safe from scrutiny, while witnesses are deterred from giving evidence.
– Steven Walker is a Unicef children’s champion.