Leon Brittan – A guest post by Tim Tate on the investigations into and evidence relating to him

Following the news of the death of Leon Brittan yesterday, the distinguished writer and film maker Tim Tate (author of Child Pornography, sections from which I have earlier posted on here) has written a piece concerning important information he knows concerning the investigations into Brittan, which I am printing here. I am most grateful to Tim Tate for writing this and giving me the permission to post it. I would also like to echo strongly his call for this information to be thoroughly investigated by the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

Tim Tate writes as follows:

Last Spring I sat for two hours with a senior detective involved in historic child sexual abuse enquiries. It was not the first time we had met, but on this occasion – and prompted by some highly inaccurate reporting elsewhere – he had decided to be open about the progress of the investigation into allegations about Leon Brittan.

His openness, of course, went only so far: we were not speaking on the record, but on conditions of anonymity. I have no way of independently verifying what he told me, but I did not feel at any point that he was either deliberately misleading me or stonewalling my questions.

However, what he said – if accurate – is very disturbing: I believe it needs to be taken up by the Home Affairs Select Committee – which has been examining the Home Office’s role in historic allegations of paedophilia – and by the official Historic Abuse Enquiry (assuming it continues).

The backdrop to our meeting were allegations in the media that a former Customs Officer had seized child pornography films or videotapes in the early 1980s, one of which “featured” a former Conservative cabinet minister. The customs officer was called Maganal Solanki, who is now in his 80s and in poor health. Mr Solanki’s name was on a 1982 Customs seizure notice which impounded obscene or indecent material sent, by mail, to the UK by a British paedophile based in Holland.

A reporter from Express newspapers had tracked down Mr Solanki, doorstepped him and recorded an attempt at interviewing him about the Tricker material. The subsequent reports of this encounter stated that Mr Solanki had claimed that the films or videos depicted the former cabinet minister involved in child sexual abuse. Although the politician was not named, it was evident that he was Leon Brittan.

The detective told me that officers had subsequently visited Mr Solanki and asked him about these allegations. According to the detective, Mr Solanki had denied the press version of events and insisted that he could not remember the Tricker seizure, much less had he ever identified Brittan as a participant in filmed child sexual abuse.

However, Mr Solanki did – according to the detective – recall stopping Brittan on another occasion as he came into the UK at Dover. Further, Mr Solanki had searched Brittan’s car and had found child pornography tapes. He viewed these and was able – with some embarrassment – to describe their contents: boys and girls, under the age of 12, being filmed having sex with each other. He impounded the tapes as indecent or obscene material.

According to the detective, Mr Solanki wasn’t able to put an exact date on the incident other than it having taken place in the mid 1980s. However, he told the officers he was certain the man he had stopped was Leon Brittan because he had asked to see his passport.

Brittan had also told Mr Solanki that he was “an MEP” – something which the detective suspected was either a mishearing of “MP” or a misunderstanding of Brittan’s role as a European politician.

Mr Solanki told the officers that he filed a report of the seizure and sent it up to Customs & Excise head office. He heard no more about it.

The detective said he was certain that Mr Solanki was telling the truth and that the latter’s recollection of the incident was reliable. A statement was taken detailing these recollections.

At the time, Operation Fernbridge was also investigating allegations about Elm Guest House – the former gay brothel shut down after a police raid in 1982. Persistent allegations have been made – notably by a former NAYPIC worker, Chris Fay – that the guest house was used by politician and celebrities, and that children from local care homes were sexually abused there. Mr Fay had also alleged that officers from the former Metropolitan Police Special Branch had threatened him for trying to expose the truth about EGH. His claims and suggestions (sometimes sourced to him, sometimes anonymous) were widely published in the press and on-line media.

The detective was adamant that Mr Fay was a fantasist and that his ‘evidence’ was largely worthless. However, he (the detective) had come to the belief that one child – a young boy – had indeed been routinely sexually abused at EGH and that although the evidence was incomplete and troublesome, he had formed the very clear belief that one of the abusers had been Leon Brittan.

The reason for this belief was that on the night of the original raid the boy – whose identity the detective gave me, but whom I will not name here – had told a police officer and a social worker about being sodomised by adult men at EGH; he had, however, told the interviewers they should not worry about this because “Uncle Leon” from “The Big House” would sort it all out.

The detective had, in 2014, taken steps to track down this boy – now an adult – and had initially thought he would provide a statement. Unfortunately, by the time internal Metropolitan Police procedures had authorised the travel costs to visit him, the allege victim had decided not to speak.

There was a great deal of further circumstantial evidence concerning this boy and his suspected involvement with Leon Brittan. The detective said he planned to have this followed up and pinned down. But he also voiced concerns that he was about to be removed from his position and that if this happened he was not wholly confident the enquiries would be thoroughly pursued.

I have not spoken with the detective for almost a year. Colleagues of mine have tried to do so, but report that it appears he may – as he feared – have been removed from the historic child sexual abuse enquiries. It is not clear whether he is even still a serving police officer.

I repeat that I have no way of independently corroborating what the detective told me. But if the Home Affairs Select Committee and the official Historic Abuse Enquiry are serious about uncovering the truth – and particularly about unearthing the role of the Home Office handling allegations of organised and/or Westminster-based paedophile rings in the 1980s – they should require that the detective and Mr Solanki give evidence to them, and that all statements relating to Mr Brittan and child sexual abuse held by the Metropolitan Police Service be provided to them.

Because Leon Brittan was not just a former cabinet minister. He was a former Home Secretary – the man in charge at the time that PIE infiltrated government and the man to whom the now-infamous Dickens Dossier on high-profile paedophiles was handled, only to disappear.

If the HASC and the Enquiry are serious, if they are honest, if they are to live up to the public’s trust, they must subpoena these witnesses and offer them protection from retaliation by Whitehall or New Scotland Yard. If they do otherwise we will know that they are none of these things.