Douglas Hurd was Minister of State at the Home Office from after the General Election on June 9th, 1983, until September 10th, 1984 (when Hurd was promoted to the Cabinet, to become Northern Ireland Secretary), as detailed in his Memoirs (London: Abacus, 2003), pp. 318-328. Leon Brittan was Home Secretary at the time. Hurd writes the following about Brittan in the memoirs:
‘Another set [of Cabinet ministers] are centralisers. Loving detail, they gather it relentlessly into themselves. Such ministers can thrive only if they have trained their minds to absorb formidable quantities of facts and figures and transmute them into decisions. Two examples of this style in my time were Geoffrey Howe and Leon Brittan, which suggests to me that it comes most easily to lawyers. Serving later under Leon Brittan at the Home Office, I marvelled at his mastery of a complicated agenda.’ (p. 285)
‘‘Leon Brittan could have been forgiven some exasperation at this point. He was lumbered with a Minister of State nine years older than himself who had acquired a reasonable reputation at the Foreign Office but who seemed unsuited for the job he had now been given. Leon possessed a first-class legal brain, had served in the Home Office before, and held every issue at his fingertips. The pile-up of work was formidable. Leon would have been justified in politely pushing me to the margins and getting on with all important matters himself. If that had happened, then the fear I wrote into my diary a week after joining the Home Office that I would never reach the Cabinet would have come true. Leon’s style was centralising in the sense that he liked to know everything and took the main decisions himself. But he involved me fully in his meetings, listened patiently to my naïve views on criminal justice, delegated to me just the weight I could carry, and showed officials that I was to be treated with respect.’ (pp. 320-321) (my emphasis)
(William Whitelaw, Home Secretary during the first Thatcher Government, shared a similar view of Brittan’s brilliance, talking of him and Patrick Mayhew, both working under Whitelaw as ‘two outstanding lawyers’, and Brittan as ‘an exceptionally clever man’ (William Whitelaw, The Whitelaw Memoirs (London: Aurum Press, 1989), pp. 162, 256).
On Wednesday (July 2nd, 2014), Brittan issued the following statement:
‘During my time as Home Secretary (1983 to 1985), Geoff Dickens MP arranged to see me at the Home Office. I invariably agreed to see any MP who requested a meeting with me.
‘As I recall, he came to my room at the Home Office with a substantial bundle of papers. As is normal practice, my Private Secretary would have been present at the meeting.
‘I told Mr Dickens that I would ensure that the papers were looked at carefully by the Home Office and acted on as necessary.
‘Following the meeting, I asked my officials to look carefully at the material contained in the papers provided and report back to me if they considered that any action needed to be taken by the Home Office.
‘In addition I asked my officials to consider a referral to another Government Department, such as the Attorney General’s Department, if that was appropriate.
‘This was the normal procedure for handling material presented to the Home Secretary. I do not recall being contacted further about these matters by Home Office officials or by Mr Dickens or by anyone else.’
Then a few hours later, Brittan issued a second statement:
‘In the last hour I have been alerted to a Home Office independent review conducted last year into what information it received about organised child sex abuse between 1979 and 1999.
‘The review found information had been dealt with properly. It also disclosed that material received from Mr Dickens in November 1983 and January 1984 had not been retained.
‘However, a letter was sent from myself to Mr Dickens on March 20, 1984 explaining what had been done in relation to the files.’
Considering this dossier contained ‘explosive’ information, according to Dickens’ family, can we really believe that a Home Secretary who Hurd describes in such a fashion would act in this manner?
Furthermore, as detailed (with full references to published articles) on Spotlight, there were three Dickens dossiers, given to Brittan on c. August 20th, 1983, November 23rd 1983, and January 18th, 1984. Hurd was Minister of State at all of these points. A further Minister of State during the period was David (now Lord) Waddington., whilst David Mellor was Under-Secretary of State; he has today (July 5th, 2014) said that he remembered ‘sort of chat around the department’ that it ‘wasn’t a very substantive thing at all’, and that ‘People are talking about this document as if it’s a carefully worked through expose of people. There’s no reason to think it was’.
Hurd would, following his stint in Northern Ireland, succeed Brittan as Home Secretary in August 1985, saying that Margaret Thatcher ‘was moving Leon Brittan to Trade and Industry because she wanted more attention paid to these subjects. She asked me to explain this to Leon, as if that were my responsibility rather than hers.’ (Hurd, Memoirs, p. 346)
A full statement from Lord Hurd is needed, not least about whether Lord Brittan’s account of the dossiers is consistent with what Hurd himself has written about the man.
Today (Thursday June 19th) the Conservative MP and former Children’s Commissioner Tim Loughton asked the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrew Lansley, about the growing movement amongst MPs calling for a national inquiry into organised child abuse. The exchange was as follows (taken from Hansard):
Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) (Con):
The Leader of the House may be aware that together with our hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith) and five other colleagues across the Chamber, I have written to the Home Secretary to ask for an independent inquiry into historic child abuse. That call has already been taken up by more than 70 hon. Members from across the House. Given that new stories emerge almost daily of grotesque abuse of children going back to the ’60s, does the Leader of the House agree that it is time that such an inquiry was held, and will he give time for a debate in the House to set the scene for it?
Mr Andrew Lansley (Leader of the House of Commons):
My hon. Friend has done important work on tackling those issues. He will be aware of the range of inquiries that have taken place, some of which, I hope, are approaching a conclusion. As the Prime Minister has said and recently reiterated to the House, we have not been persuaded of the case for an overarching inquiry; indeed, we feel that there is a significant risk that such an inquiry might impede and delay the resolution of some of the issues in the separate inquiries that are taking place. As the Prime Minister rightly said, however, he will continue actively to keep the question under review.
The following exchange also took place at the House of Commons on June 11th, 2014:
Mr Duncan Hames (Liberal Democrat, Chippenham)
Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister will have heard calls from Honourable Members on all sides of this House for an independent inquiry on the Hillsborough model into organised child sexual abuse in this country. Can he truly be satisfied that current police investigations are sufficient for the public to have confidence that we are both willing and able to get to the truth?
The Right Hon David Cameron (Prime Minister)
I think my Honourable Friend makes a very important point and I have looked at this carefully with Ministerial colleagues, because of course we have a series of inquiries taking place into what happened in various hospitals and care homes and indeed media organisations, and I think it’s very important that Government keeps a clear view about how these are being co-ordinated and how the lessons are being learned. If there is a need for any more over-arching process to be put in place, I’m very happy to look at that, but at the moment, I think led by the Home Secretary and her colleagues, we do have a proper view of what’s happening at all these organisations.
In amongst these mealy-mouthed evasive answers, I would remind people of the original letter sent to Home Secretary Teresa May by the original seven MPs (Zac Goldsmith, Loughton, John Hemming, Tessa Munt, Tom Watson, Simon Danczuk and Caroline Lucas):
Dear Home Secretary,
We are writing to ask you to set up a full, properly resourced investigation into the failure of the Police to follow the evidence in a number of historical cases of child sexual abuse.
We would ask you to set up an independent panel, similar to the Inquiry you established into the Hillsborough tragedy, with powers to demand the release of all and any material from every agency involved.
We would like such a panel to work with the many victims of child sexual abuse from local authority care, the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches and schools, including public schools, to uncover the facts in cases including the following:
a. Operation Fernbridge – Richmond: Elm Guest House and Grafton Close Children’s Home, Norbiton, Weybridge & Petersham
b. Operation Orchid – Hackney and Islington
c. The Geoffrey Dickens’ dossiers – and Monkton Street home for Mentally Handicapped Children, Lambeth
d. Sir Cyril Smith – Rochdale, including Knowl View Special School
e. HM Customs & Excise – Russell Tricker videos
f. Trafficking involving British businessmen in Amsterdam
g. Warwick Spinks – Amsterdam & Prague
h. “Jane” alleged rape by a man who went on to become a Cabinet minister
We would ask that the panel examines:
i. why detailed dossiers – such as the documents submitted to the Home Office by the late Geoffrey Dickens – have disappeared
ii. why Police surveillance videos – said to be of prominent people who have been involved in paedophile rings – have gone missing
iii. why child pornography videos seized by HM Customs & Excise have been lost or destroyed
iv. why investigations appear repeatedly to have been stalled or abandoned over the last thirty years
We look forward to an early response
Amongst the most important issues they raise is to do with the unsatisfactory nature of existing police investigations.
The Prime Minister and the Government must not, and should not be allowed to, sweep this under the carpet – there are extremely serious questions to be answered.
It now appears that the Home Office have ‘lost’ the two child abuse dossiers that were given to former Home Secretary by the late Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens. New information also shows that the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), a group who wanted the age of consent lowered to four years old, were directly funded by the Home Office. (Daily Mirror 21.11.13)
The two dossiers were handed to Leon Brittan in November 1983 and January 1984, but a newly discovered press cutting (see below) shows that Geoffrey Dickens personally delivered a separate file to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Thomas Hetherington, in August 1983. The file contained details of eight prominent public figures who were paedophiles that Dickens had separated out from the later dossiers. The list was based on information supplied by the public in the wake of the Sir Peter Hayman scandal. Dickens ruled out any…
View original post 366 more words
The man who attacked Geoffrey Dickens over Islington ‘child brothels’ claims was a paedophile activistPosted: June 2, 2014
In 1986, the backbench MP Geoffrey Dickens reported allegations of ‘child brothels’ on a council estate in the London Borough of Islington. He said that he had received a letter and a tape recording from a resident of the Elthorne Estate claiming that adults on the estate were organising ‘wide-scale’ child abuse involving 40 children, some as young as seven.
Dickens was attacked by the MP for Islington North, Jeremy Corbyn, who said he was “getting cheap publicity at the expense of innocent children”. An Islington councillor called Alan Clinton defended the “decency” of Elthorne tenants, and the Islington Gazette ran a story claiming that the residents were furious about the “slur”. (Islington Gazette 21/02/86)
Dickens was unrepentant, and said he had more evidence and was more certain than ever about the truth of his allegations. (Social Work Today 24/02/86)
The folowing week the Islington Gazette…
View original post 172 more words