When I first heard that the Metropolitan police referred themselves to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) relating to alleged cover-ups in child abuse inquiries it stopped me in my tracks. For the first time since rasing the issue at Prime Minister’s Question time in October 2012, it felt like there had been a major breakthrough in a very complex case.
One of the police cases relates to the Elm Guesthouse in Richmond, London. There is much unfounded rumour relating to the 1982 raid on the property. Despite the red herrings I am concerned there was a cover-up in the original inquiry. Sources close to the police have told me that Leon Brittan was named by a child linked to the raid. They say the child used “sexualised language” when speaking to social workers and spoke of his “Uncle Leon”. The sources allege that the police on duty during the night of the raid were instructed by senior officials to ensure that no record was made of the child naming Brittan. They also tell me that a second man, closely associated with the guesthouse, boasted of his friendship with Leon Brittan. Journalists have known these allegations for months. The Daily Mail has recently decided to publish them naming Brittan.
Remarkable investigative journalism has opened up the establishment’s murky past to scrutiny. Despite a bewildering array of false leads, good journalism is getting to the truth.
Journalist Liz MacKean and the team at Dispatches were the first to show that Special branch suppressed a police investigation into Cyril Smith. Thanks to Nick Hopkins at Newsnight we know of a second inquiry into Cyril Smith being shut down. Tom Parmenter from Sky News broadcast a report suggesting a third cover up.
The team at the Sunday People, and Exaro News, were the first to show that a criminal inquiry by the Metropolitan police into the network of convicted paedophile Peter Righton was shut down because of “orders from on high”. But how high? That is what we need to know. They revealed that former child protection officer Peter McKelvie, had campaigned for years to have the case re-opened but was ignored by police and politicians.
Righton had a more significant role in child abuse than his £900 fine and caution for assault might suggest. Peter McKelvie finally won his campaign. Last December Righton’s friend and co-member of the Paedophile Information Exchange, Charles Napier, a suspect in previous investigations, was jailed for 13 years.
Mark Conrad of Exaro News has also reported that Customs Officers seized videos linked to a former MP.
It has been reported that Mrs Thatcher awarded Cyril Smith a knighthood despite being explicitly told of a police investigation into an “indecent assault on teenage boys.” It has been reported former Detective Chief Inspector told her of rumours relating to Sir Peter Morrison before she appointed him Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party. She was also advisednot to award Jimmy Savile a knighthood. The files that detail the reasons are still being suppressed by the government.
Could it be that Mrs Thatcher was also told of Leon Brittan’s links to the Elm Guest House and other inquiries? We need to get to the truth. Theresa May is not wrong to suggest that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.
As the volume of thwarted cases grows, the IPCC is creaking under the weight of new evidence. In 2012 The IPPC only investigated 130 cases out of 2,100 referred to them. This was down to lack of staff. No wonder Yvette Cooper wants to abolish it and replace it with a tougher, more robust Police Standards Authority. Reform of the IPCC should be an in-tray item marked ‘urgent’ for the next Prime Minister.
Before his resignation as chair, Malcolm Rifkind assured MPs that the Intelligence and Security Committee is a more robust scrutiny body than ever before. If any group of MPs can get to the truth it is those that sit on this committee. I am writing to ask that they commission a review of what agencies told which ministers about criminal investigations into MPs. They might also want to ask just what was known about the Kincora Boys Homein Northern Ireland by the intelligence agencies.
I believe it is the duty of all former police and intelligence officers, civil servants and officials to share relevant information with the IPCC. David Cameron made explicitly clear that he wouldn’t want to see anyone prosecuted for “uncovering wrongdoing”. We need to hold fast to this commitment. There is a public petition to demand that he does so. Please sign it and share on social media.
This case goes beyond party politics. There needs to be a fundamental culture shift in this country. We all need to stand up for every survivor’s right for justice. The country needs a bigger conversation about what we can do politically, socially and culturally to end child abuse.
by Tom Watson MP