A former MI5 director warned Margret Thatcher’s administration that allegations concerning one MP who had a “penchant for small boys” could cause the government serious political embarrassment.
Investigators currently looking into the historic child sex abuse scandal found that nothing had been done about the potential threat to children, but rather the security service had warned the allegations could damage the reputation of Thatcher’s government.
Newly discovered files show former spy chief Sir Anthony Duff had written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Robert Armstrong in 1986 to warn him of claims made about the behavior of one MP.
The new documents were analyzed by the head of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC.
Other politicians whose names were mentioned in the review of new material include former Cabinet minister Leon Brittan, Thatcher’s aide Peter Morrison, ex-diplomat Sir Peter Hayman and former minister William van Straubenzee.
Wanless and Whittam said the documents showed that threats to children were not taken seriously.
“There were a number of references across the papers we saw that reinforced the observation we made in our review that issues of crimes against children, particularly the rights of the complainant, were given considerably less serious consideration than would be expected today.
“To give one striking example, in response to claims from two sources that a named Member of Parliament ‘has a penchant for small boys’ matters conclude with acceptance of his word that he does not and the observation that ‘at the present stage … the risks of political embarrassment to the government is rather greater than the security danger.’ The risk to children is not considered at all.”
The new group of papers, which name former establishment figures as well as references to the Kincora children’s home in Northern Ireland where boys were abused, were “found in a separate Cabinet Office store of assorted and unstructured papers.”
Wanless and Whittam’s inquiry noted last year that they hadn’t unearthed evidence that any records had been deliberately destroyed and added they had “found nothing to cause us to alter the conclusions drawn or recommendations made in our review.”
But they also said the discovery of new papers would not be “helpful” in recovering public trust in the inquiry, which was completed last year.
An NSPCC spokesman said: “This is a clear illustration, as the original review revealed, of the misplaced priorities of those operating at [the] highest levels of government, where people simply weren’t thinking about crimes against children and the consequences of those crimes in the way that we would expect them to. It reiterates the need for an inquiry that will explore this in depth.”
Newly discovered government documents also relate to senior Westminster figures, including Leon Brittan
The Home Office is facing criticism over a review into the department’s handling of the 1980s Dickens dossier of paedophilia allegations.
Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, was brought in to investigate in July after an internal Home Office review found no evidence of a dossier of suspected child abusers compiled by Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens in the 1980s.
The internal review also found that between 1979 and 1999 the department had “lost or destroyed” 114 files relating to child abuse.
Wanless has also reportedly failed to uncover the files or the dossier and is expected to criticise the Home Office’s record-keeping and archiving when he publishes his report later today.
He is expected to agree with the department’s findings that there is no evidence to suggest the missing files had been removed or destroyed inappropriately.
The Home Office says the department did consider the allegations contained in the Dickens dossier at the time and passed on 13 “items of information” to the police and prosecutors.
However, Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who raised the issue of the missing dossier earlier this year, has complained that the timescale for the Wanless review has not allowed for more sophisticated digital tracing techniques to be used.
“That raises serious questions about the scope of the investigations and, frankly, leaves a question mark over any of its findings,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
Mark Sedwill, the department’s permanent secretary, said the review had analysed a central database containing 746,000 files from the period 1979 to 1999.
Labour has also been critical of Home Secretary Theresa May’s decision to publish the Wanless report in a written ministerial statement rather than face questions from MPs in the Commons.
“The failure by Wanless to throw any new light on the fate of the allegations by Dickens is likely to fuel the continuing row over the establishment of a national overarching inquiry into historical allegations of child sex abuse,” says The Guardian.
The Home Secretary has already apologised for the delays to the overarching inquiry after Fiona Woolf, the second chair appointed to lead the inquiry stood down over her links to Lord Brittan.
Sir William, who died in 1999, is one named alongside former Home Secretary Leon Brittan in the papers
Leading Westminster figures from the 1970s and 80s including the late Wokingham MP Sir William van Straubenzee have been named in Government child abuse documents, it has been reported.
An investigation by Sky News has forced the Government to admit papers do exist relating to the behaviour of former MPs,
Sir William, who died in November 1999, is named alongside Mrs Thatcher’s former parliamentary secretary the late Sir Peter Morrison, former Home Secretary Sir Leon Brittan, who died in January, and former diplomat the late Sir Peter Hayman.
Sky News reports the contents of the paper have not been revealed and said the papers have been shared with police and will be passed to the Child Abuse Enquiry led by Justice Lowell Goddard.
Sir William was education minister from 1970-72 and Northern Ireland Minister from 1972-74,
Mrs Thatcher sacked him from the front bench after the 1979 General Election.
He was given a knighthood in 1981 and was MP until 1987, where he was replaced by current MP John Redwood.
A letter sent to the clerk of the parliaments that has been released to the Guardian shows Janner’s signature appeared on a request for a leave of absence from the House of Lords on 9 April.
A spokesman for the House of Lords said on Monday that the signature matches previous examples from the peer, and there is no reason to believe that it was signed by someone else.
The letter and the parliamentary authorities’ assessment of Janner’s signature raise further questions about whether or not the peer is fit to stand trial.
A spokeswoman for Leicestershire police said they will consider contacting the House of Lords about the letter as part of Operation Enamel, their ongoing investigation into Janner and other alleged paedophiles.
Last week, Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, ruled that the former MP for Leicester West would not face the courts because four separate doctors – two appointed by prosecutors and two by Janner’s family – ruled that he was unfit to plead or understand the court.
People with dementia have been prosecuted before the courts. But the decision over whether an individual is fit to stand trial is made by theCrown Prosecution Service on a case-by-case basis. Janner was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2009.
At least 10 men with dementia have been convicted of child sex offences since 2010, including six in the past year.
Janner’s letter was addressed to David Beamish, the clerk of the parliaments, and arrived at his desk on 9 April.
The peer wrote: “I am writing to request Leave of Absence from the House of Lords for the duration of the 2015 Parliament. I understand that this will take effect on the next sitting day.”
The letter was signed by Lord Janner, but the signature has been blanked out by the House of Lords to avoid any risk of ID theft. Below, someone has printed “Lord Janner of Braunstone” on the bottom of the letter.
Asked whether Janner’s signature on the letter warranted further inquiries given the public outcry over whether he is fit to stand, a House of Lords spokesman said: “The signature on the form matches the signature of Lord Janner of Braunstone. There is nothing for the Clerk of the Parliaments to investigate.”
Janner also wrote to Beamish on 3 October to indicate that he wished to go on leave of absence, the spokesman said.
Campaigners said that the letter points to another reason why Saunders was wrong to drop the prosecution of Janner.
Simon Danczuk, the former Labour MP for Rochdale who has co-written a book about the Cyril Smith child sex abuse scandal, said: “The decision on whether Lord Janner is fit to stand trial should be resolved before the courts and not in a clandestine and quasi judicial way behind closed doors.
“If Lord Janner is incapable of answering questions and going before a court then how can he possibly remain a possible legislator in the House of Lords? It’s bringing the whole place into disrepute.”
In a highly unusual move, the DPP said last week there was sufficient evidence to charge the peer with 22 offences against nine alleged victims between the 1960s and 1980 – but it was not in the public interest to prosecute because of Janner’s ill health.
If a person’s mental state is a consideration, then their fitness to plead can be tried. If they are found unfit to plead, then the facts of the case are tried rather than the person, so the accused receives neither the same verdict nor the same sentence as an ordinary defendant.
Leicestershire police has criticised Saunders’ decision, as have a number of Janner’s alleged victims.
Hamish Baillie, 47, who was one of the nine people lined up to give evidence against Janner over child sex abuse allegations, said the decision not to prosecute the Labour politician “beggars belief”.
Waiving his right to anonymity, the father-of-three told the Daily Mail he was molested by Janner during a game of hide-and-seek in a park, when he was a 15-year-old resident of a children’s home in Leicestershire.
He said: “I don’t think anybody other than the victims and the police involved in the Operation Enamel inquiry understand how perverted a man Lord Janner is.”
It also emerged on Monday that Saunders sought advice on Janner from a CPS barrister who recently worked in the same chambers as the Labour politician’s son. Neil Moore QC, Saunders’ principal legal adviser, was based at 23 Essex Street chambers with Daniel Janner QC until late last year.
A CPS spokesman said: “Saunders made the decision not to prosecute on her own and Moore had told her he had been in chambers with Lord Janner’s son before discussing the case.”
A spokeswoman for the CPS said that any related further inquiries are a matter for the police. “Lord Janner is suffering from a degenerative dementia which is rapidly becoming more severe. He requires continuous care both day and night.
“His evidence could not be relied upon in court and he could not have any meaningful engagement with the court process, and the court would find it impossible to proceed. The condition will only deteriorate, there is no prospect of recovery,” she said.
Janner’s family said last week that he was entirely innocent of any wrongdoing.
“As the Crown Prosecution Service indicated today, this decision does not mean or imply that any of the allegations that have been made are established or that Lord Janner is guilty of any offence,” a statement said.
A child sex abuse victim has claimed he was molested by “very powerful people” at several locations connected to an alleged VIP paedophile ring.
Richard Kerr, who was a victim of abuse at Kincora Boys’ Home in Belfast, has claimed he was also attacked at the Dolphin Square luxury apartment complex and Elm Guest House, both located in London.
It is thought to be the first time that the three places have been linked in relation to claims of historical sex abuse by influential Westminster figures.
Mr Kerr was abused at Kincora in the 1970s and alleges he and two other boys were hand-picked to be trafficked to London in 1977 and sexually abused by men.
Both of the other men have since taken their own lives, Mr Kerr told Channel 4 News.
Insisting that the VIP paedophile ring did exist, he claims to have been abused in London by “men who had control and power over others”, some of whom he believes were politicians.
Dolphin Square in Pimlico, London, is said to have been used by an alleged VIP paedophile ring.
His most violent experience allegedly took place at the Elm Guest House in Barnes, south London, where he claims to have been tied up with his hands behind his back while men took photographs.
When the guest house was raided by police in 1981 it was reported that officers had found whips, chains and ropes.
Mr Kerr also claimed to have been taken to Dolphin Square, a block of apartments near Parliament which is now at the centre of allegations of child abuse and murders being investigated by Scotland Yard.
Asked if he would name his abusers, Mr Kerr said:
I’m still in some fear. Even though I’m willing to take the courage.
I need to know that I can have faith in our government but right now, when they’re not willing to bring Kincora into Westminster, the message that sends to me is that there’s some kind of cover-up and there has been.
– RICHARD KERR
Last July, Home Secretary Theresa May announced a major public panel inquiry into whether paedophiles were sheltered in government, the NHS, police, the courts and the BBC.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission said earlier this month it is investigating 17 allegations of a police cover-up in relation to a VIP child sex abuse ring ranging from the 1970s to 2000s.
The full interview with Mr Kerr will be shown on Channel 4 News at 7pm.
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.