To HASC – questions to ask to stop child abuse being exploited for party-political gain

This afternoon (Wednesday October 21st, 2015), the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) will be taking evidence relating to allegations and investigations into the abuse of children committed by VIPs (and in at least one case, alleged rape of an adult woman) from five important people: Detective Chief Inspector Paul Settle, formerly of Operation Fernbridge, Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan and Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse of the Metropolitan Police, Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and a prominent campaigner on child abuse, and Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions. A report this morning makes clear that the committee have decided not to interview Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park and Conservative candidate for London Mayor.

Over the last two weeks, ever since the broadcast on October 5th of the BBC Panorama programme on the alleged VIP Paedophile Ring, there has been a concerted media campaign targeting Tom Watson above all, who has been labelled a ‘witchfinder general’, as responsible for supposedly unfounded claims of high level abuse. I do know Tom personally, vouched for the importance of his work on abuse as part of his deputy leadership campaign materials, and so obviously am far from impartial, but can see in absolute honesty that I do not recognise the figure portrayed by much of the press, and also have very strong reason to believe Tom has acted with integrity and in good faith. I suspect that his conciliatory position as deputy to new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, despised by the right-wing media and many Blairite elements in the party, is fuelling this campaign. Furthermore, there are complicated reasons which may become apparent this afternoon why some conflicts have arisen between various parties all devoted to uncovering and preventing child abuse by prominent persons. Last week I posted a detailed timeline of events relating to Leon Brittan, which I believe show clearly that the decision to pursue further the rape investigation into him, after it had been dropped, came from the Met, not from Tom.

The following are issues I implore all members of HASC to consider before questioning this afternoon.

Allegations of a statement taken by an ex-customs officer about the late Lord Brittan

The distinguished journalist Tim Tate has written what to my mind is the most important piece on the allegations surrounding Leon Brittan (later Lord Brittan). Tate does not accept the claims, printed in Exaro and elsewhere, that a video seized in 1982 from Russell Tricker featured the Home Secretary themselves, but crucially claims that a statement was taken from the customs official in question, Maganlal Solanki, attesting to having seized video tapes from Brittan upon entering the country at some point in the 1980s. If a written statement exists attesting to this, it is of crucial importance in establishing whether there might be any truth in the allegations against Brittan. HASC should ask Settle to explain whether this exists or not. Furthermore, at the time of the 1982 siege of Elm Guest House, a then-eight-year-old boy was found and questioned, later (now an adult living in the US) questioned by detectives from Operation Fernbridge. On at least one occasion, this boy identified an ‘Uncle Leon’ from the ‘big house’ as being involved. It is equally vital that Settle is questioned about this. Furthermore, Solanki should also be summoned to speak to HASC.

Tate sent the following questions to the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse (to the best of my knowledge he has not yet received an answer) – I suggest these are equally relevant for HASC:

1. Has the Inquiry yet established direct contact with Operation Fernbridge ?
2. Will the Inquiry be examining documentary evidence held by Operation Fernbridge concerning its investigations into the late Baron Brittan ?
3. Specifically, will the Inquiry secure from Operation Fernbridge copies of all such documents including, but not limited to, formal statements made under caution, officers’ notebooks, internal memoranda and historical documents acquired during its investigation into the late Baron Brittan ?
4. Does the Inquiry plan to require public testimony from the current head of Operation Fernbridge, AND its former senior investigating officer, [NAME REDACTED HERE] concerning the late Baron Brittan?
5. Does the Inquiry plan to require public testimony from the former Customs and Excise officer Maganlal Solanki who gave evidence to Operation Fernbridge concerning the alleged seizure of child pornography from the late Baron Brittan ?
6. Does the Inquiry plan to take evidence from the US Marshall formerly attached to Operation Fernbridge in connection with a visit he made at the request of Operation Fernbridge to a suspected victim of Baron Brittan ?
7. Does the Inquiry plan to publish the documents acquired and/or generated by Operation Fernbridge during the course of its investigation into Baron Brittan ?

Involvement of other MPs

By far the majority of the focus has been on Tom Watson, but other MPs have been equally involved with campaigning on abuse, and some have made more extravagant claims or threats. Specifically:

1. The Labour MP John Mann has handed police a list of 22 politicians alleged to have been involved with the abuse of children. Furthermore, in July last year, Mann indicated the possibility of using Parliamentary privilege to name abusers.

2. The Labour MP Simon Danczuk also threatened to use Parliamentary privilege to name a politician alleged to have visited Elm Guest House; whilst Danczuk did not ultimately do so, it is widely believed to have been Brittan.

3. On October 28th, 2014, the Labour MP Jim Hood did indeed name Brittan in Parliament. The following day, Danczuk backed Hood for having done so.

4. On November 27th, 2014, Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith said the following:

We need only consider the Elm guest house in Barnes, which was run by Haroon and Carole Kasir. It was raided more than 30 years ago, back in 1982. The couple were fined and given suspended sentences for running a disorderly house, but at the time there were already questions and allegations around the abuse of young children at the house. Allegedly—we are reliably told this—12 boys gave evidence in 1982 that they had been abused, yet all these allegations simply evaporated at the time, some 30 years ago. They are only resurfacing now.

When Mrs Kasir died a few years after the house was raided, in very odd circumstances, a child protection campaigner from the National Association Of Young People In Care called for a criminal investigation into events at Elm guest house. He said he had been told by Mrs Kasir that boys had been brought in from a local children’s home—Grafton Close, also in Richmond—for sex, and that she had photographs of establishment figures at her hotel. One of them apparently showed a former Cabinet Minister in a sauna with a naked boy. She had logbooks, names, times, dates, pictures of her customers and so on. All that evidence simply disappeared after the raids and no longer exists. That is astonishing.

The Met has since confirmed that Cyril Smith visited the place—the hon. Member for Rochdale has made this point—and at least three other men named in documents as visitors to the Elm guest house were later convicted of multiple sexual offences against children. It is impossible to believe there was not a cover up. This is not sloppiness; there has to be more to it than that.

I was quite surprised when I watched the broadcast of this debate in November to hear these claims, which are thought to be tenuous by many campaigners, presented in Parliament. Questions have been rightly asked about Goldsmith’s source for the claims – the Mail journalist Guy Adams suggests it was like to be either Chris Fay or Mike Broad (Fay has e-mailed me to indicate that he has never met nor had any contact with Goldsmith). Furthermore, Goldsmith participated in an Australian documentary Spies, Lords and Predators, broadcast in July this year and heavily influenced by the reporting of Exaro, which has come under severe criticism.

5. The Conservative MP and HASC member Tim Loughton, who has in the last few days started charging Watson with setting himself up as ‘judge, jury, and executioner’ over individual cases, himself threatened in July 2014 to use what he called the ‘nuclear option’ to name suspected paedophiles in Parliament. He also called for action from the inquiry in November 2014 following allegations from Exaro about MPs throwing sex parties involving the abuse of children, murder, and more.

Many of these are stronger claims or threats than anything by Tom Watson, who in a November 2014 interview with Guardian journalist Decca Aitkenhead said just that at least one politician had abused children.

HASC needs to speak to Mann, Danczuk, Hood, Goldsmith, and Loughton.

Allegations of a Westminster paedophile ring

It is often claimed that Tom Watson has alleged the existence of a Westminster paedophile ring. This would be truer of Danczuk (I am not absolutely sure if he has specifically used the term, but will check); Watson’s question to the Prime Minister on October 24th, 2012 contained the following words:

The evidence file used to convict paedophile Peter Righton, if it still exists, contains clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring. One of its members boasts of his links to a senior aide of a former Prime Minister, who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad. The leads were not followed up, but if the file still exists I want to ensure that the Metropolitan police secure the evidence, re-examine it and investigate clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No. 10.

A network which is linked to Parliament and No. 10 is not the same thing as a Westminster paedophile ring. There is no doubt that a network existed around Righton, at the very least featuring other committee members of the Paedophile Information Exchange, such as Charles Napier, convicted and sentenced last December to 13 years for hundreds of sexual assaults upon young boys, or Righton’s partner Richard Alston, jailed in September for 21 months for child abuse charges, in a trial at which claims emerged of sessions involving Alston, Righton and Napier together.

The link to Parliament and No. 10 rests upon claims made in a document about which I am not at liberty to write now. Tom Watson’s source for his original PMQ was retired child protection worker Peter McKelvie, who last week resigned from the Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel to the inquiry.

Scapegoats are being made of McKelvie and Watson in a bid to stop further investigation of a wide range of claims about politicians of which both are aware. It is vital that HASC also summon McKelvie and ask him about this specific claim mentioned by Watson in 2012.

If HASC will deal seriously with these claims, they will be carrying out their proper role, and not serving simply as a front for political point-scoring. The issue of high-level child abuse is far too serious for this, and it would be a tragedy if the cross-party consensus which was previously built on this were now to be abandoned.

4 Comments on “To HASC – questions to ask to stop child abuse being exploited for party-political gain”

  1. Reblogged this on cathyfox blog and commented:
    Pertinent questions that HASC should be asking about the Brittan case

  2. Bandini says:

    So now there was a “siege of Elm Guest House”?!? Yeah, why not – why bother at this late stage with honest facts and un-sensationalized reporting? Jesus wept!

    The Solanki-tales? Raised here, still waiting for a convincing explanation:
    What are the chances, eh? They went to ask him about one Brittan-tale, but he just happened to have information about a completely different one – an incredible coincidence, unbelievable almost!

    I hope they do, indeed, drag him before them to be scrutinized; the incredible almost-silence around doing just this suggests to me that there isn’t a whole lot of belief in anything coming from that direction.

    Goldsmith? Further examination of his ludicrous outburst leaves little doubt as to who ‘coached’ him: David ‘Dirty’ Hencke. Astonishing, really, given that Watson had long ago dismissed the photo fantasy of Fay as exactly that… what WERE Hencke & Goldsmith thinking?

    ““There are two sorts of people in today’s Britain that do not deserve the protection of the law. Super-rich MPs who make allegations under parliamentary privilege and fantasists who make allegations against innocent people but enjoy the protection of anonymity under the law. Zac Goldsmith is in the former category,” he [Harvey Proctor] said.”

    Indeed! But can we add unscrupulous journalists & their virtual assistants? Let’s have ’em all together in the same room, sweating profusely… really sweating…

    P.S. You seem to have forgotten Watson’s grandstanding over ‘Darren’ (the discredited ‘witness’ to murder/torture) – if anything untoward were to befall him, our rotund hero would be naming names of those he knew to be responsible, so help him God! Well, that’s what he said, at least. When push came to shove (alleged attacks of all manner were made, it was claimed) the portly poseur was no where to be found… Still, got it all in the press, eh?, and gave it all the ring of credibility. Good ol’ Tom!

    “Watson is aware of the threats, and is prepared to name in Parliament who was behind them should Darren be harmed.
    “Darren has told me that he fears for his safety,” Watson told Exaro. “Were he to be attacked, I will personally make sure everyone who needs to know will know who these people are.””

    P.P.S. “Napier himself had no connection to any Westminster paedophile ring. Until I bring up the fraternal relationship to Whittingdale, Watson doesn’t even mention it, for fear that the quite coincidental link could be misinterpreted.”

    The internet warriors don’t ‘do’ coincidences, unfortunately.

  3. […] Source: To HASC – questions to ask to stop child abuse being exploited for party-political gain […]

  4. artmanjosephgrech says:

    I have no inside knowledge about why the Home Affairs Committee decided to hold a one off session in relation to how the case of Jane had been handled but I do now have the benefit of watching the what happened yesterday and listened to the future business session this morning.

    The attack on in Tom Watson by the Tory Party has nothing to do with Lord Brittan and his family but is part of the politically legitimate strategy to destabilise and divide the Labour Party by establishing in the public mind that the new Leader and Deputy Leader are unfit to run the UK. The evidence is that popular public opinion about a leader is established within a few months of their appointment and does not change. The Tory Party with help from certain newspapers and individual member of the PLP have proved very successful in damaging the new Leader and have now set their sights on Tom Watson The Home Affairs Committee is only the first shot in trying to damage Tom . The Commons Standards Committee is being establishment for this Parliament and this will be followed by the Privileges Committee and these committees will be used continue the assault on his integrity and standing. The attack was also launched by Michael Portillo on This Week last Thursday with Beatrix Campbell set up to argue to the general point unaware that the target was Tom and where past his sell buy date Andrew Neal aided and abetted..

    As is often the case in party politics the orchestrated campaign has a number of other purposes of which the main two are to prevent the Goddard Inquiry from holding a public hearing about Lord Brittan, Lord Janner and other VIPs if possible I had a brief exchange with the Human rights barrister Barbara Hewson who believes the approach of Justice Goddard is overkill (which I agree in terms of the proposed number of public hearings which I believe could prove negative and destructive in terms of public confidence in authority and government) and expressed surprise when I drew attention that the development of criminal proceedings re Lord Janner, did not mean that the Goddard would not investigate and possible hold a public hearing but as the Inquiry statement online makes clear, the inquiry will not comment about Lord Janner issues until due process has been completed.. You should not underestimate the alarm which Justice Goddard caused by her statement about the future work of the inquiry and it is disappointing that a number of campaigners and campaigning groups re not giving the inquiry full support.

    The current tactics is also intended to warn off other MP’s and campaigners from outing other politicians, especially if and when the Police reveal that they are not able to submit a case to the DPP for prosecution. The reversal of the DPP decision re Lord Janner also created alarm that she would be under great pressure in the future to approve the prosecution of politicians. The evidence of this was also evident at the HAC when the Met and the DPP disclosed they were having a discussion about the policy bring able to consult the DPP further in addition to the early advice notification which now exists.

    The other purpose of the Home Affairs Committee was to launch the attack being made against the Metropolitan Police in particular and the police In General for their continuing investigating into politicians and which was part of the reason for the urgent debate held on the Wilson doctrine this week. This was a fishing expedition to try and get the Home Secretary to disclose how many warrants she has issued for surveillance of existing politicians under police investigation at the present time. You will have seen the Exaro bulletin on the increased scale of the police operation bringing the number of new investigations involving politicians.

    I am suggesting therefore that the understandable and genuine anger of the family of Lord Brittan is being used and exploited as part of the bigger picture just as the politicians and lawyers rarely are able to give the time and attention and go into individual cases in any depth themselves but will rely on the ability of their staff and those they refer cases to those able to do so.

    The wheel came off yesterday afternoon in several ways because it was evident that from the words of the Chairman saying he would ensure the first witness was properly occupied without hearing from the Met that the man had not been as thorough given the circumstances as was subsequently considered to have been. The Home Affairs Committee proved again to be the most bullying of select committees and where its chairman clearly failed to control members or is unwilling to do so given the clear legal advice it was given beforehand not to stray beyond the case of Jane.

    What yesterday’s event also demonstrated echoing Toms voice that he wanted to make sure victims had a voice which would make the powers that me listen. If you and your family have wealth and power you get newspapers, politicians to further your interests whether right or wrong. Many of the new members of the House of Commons Home Affaires committee showed their ignorance of the recent past context let alone the damage which the Committee by Chris Mullin with Cameron Watson and Mr Winnick did by their 2002 report. I wonder how many members of the present Committee bothered to read the 2002 report, and the evidence submitted to it before straying into the subject beyond their remit. They would be wise to leave the matter to the Justice Goddard Inquiry. Given that in the statement explaining the loss of Peter Mckelvie from the advisory panel it is evident that the Goddard Inquiry will also examining how the inquiry came into being in its present format. The HAC is placing itself at the forefront of being called as witness in such an inquiry given is role and biased behaviour towards individual witnesses over the past 2 years. The hypocrisy of raising the issue of due process about Tom and the Met disappointed but did not surprise. My advice to Mr Vaz and the Committee Physician heal thyself.

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