Tim Tate’s Questions to Lord Armstrong, and Armstrong’s Answer

Following my updated blog on Peter Morrison, including the latest information about correspondence in November 1986 between Sir Antony Duff, then head of MI5, and Sir Robert Armstrong (now Lord Armstrong), then Cabinet Secretary, I am publishing some questions ent by investigative journalist Tim Tate to Lord Armstrong about these matters, and Armstrong’s reply.

With thanks to Tim Tate for providing me with this material and giving permission to post it. For more detail, see Tate’s blog on this.


(Thursday July 23rd)

Dear Lord Armstrong

I am a freelance journalist with a lengthy career-history of investigating child sexual abuse.

I am writing to you about this morning’s revelations, that in 1986 while serving as Cabinet Secretary you received a letter from Sir Anthony Duff, then director-general of MI5, advising you that allegations had been made that a Conservative MP had “a penchant for small boys”.

I’m currently preparing an article for publication concerning this matter: Could I therefore please ask you:

1. Whether you recall receiving this letter ?
2. What you did with the information ?
3. Whether you passed on the allegations concerning this MP in question to the Prime Minister and/or the Chief Whip ?
4. Whether you made any attempt to speak with MP yourself about the allegations ?
5. Whether, in more recent times, you informed the Home Office and/or its recent internal enquiries about the existence of this letter ?

I look forward to hearing from you


HIS REPLY:


(Sunday July 26th)

Dear Mr. Tate,

Thank you for your e-mail of 23 July.

I am afraid that I do not remember receiving Sir Antony Duff’s letter, or what I did when I received it. It is now a long time ago, and there were a lot of other things going on at the time.

Yours sincerely,

Armstrong of Ilminster


Peter Morrison – the child abuser protected by MI5, the Cabinet Secretary, and Margaret Thatcher – updated July 2015

[With great thanks to @Snowfaked and @MySweetLandlord on Twitter for finding some extra pieces of information, especially relating to Morrison and Islay, and the picture of Thatcher, Morrison and Brittan]

Peter Morrison 1

In Edwina Currie’s diary entry for July 24th, 1990, she wrote the following:

One appointment in the recent reshuffle has attracted a lot of gossip and could be very dangerous: Peter Morrison has become the PM’s PPS. Now he’s what they call ‘a noted pederast’, with a liking for young boys; he admitted as much to Norman Tebbit when he became deputy chairman of the party, but added, ‘However, I’m very discreet’ – and he must be! She either knows and is taking a chance, or doesn’t; either way it is a really dumb move. Teresa Gorman told me this evening (in a taxi coming back from a drinks party at the BBC) that she inherited Morrison’s (woman) agent, who claimed to have been offered money to keep quiet about his activities. It scares me, as all the press know, and as we get closer to the election someone is going to make trouble, very close to her indeed. (Edwina Currie, Diaries 1987-1992 (London: Little, Brown, 2002), p. 195)

Currie Diaries

The agent in question was Frances Mowatt. A 192 search reveals that there is now a Frances Mowatt, aged 65+, living in Billericay in Essex, Teresa Gorman’s old constituency. She may be the same person who is a Local Authority Governor for St Peter’s Catholic Primary School in Billericay.

In 1982, a boy who would then have been around 14 (the same age as I was at the time) has given a vivid account of his experiences at the hands of Morrison (Bill Gardner, ‘Westminster paedophile ring: ‘I allowed my son to go with him. You trusted people more in those days”, Daily Telegraph, January 3rd, 2015). This boy encountered Morrison, dressed in a pin-striped suit in the village of Harting, West Sussex; Morrison told him his car had broken down, offered him money to help him start it, then invited the boy to his ‘nice big house in London for the weekend’. The boy said he couldn’t come, but gave Morrison his phone number when he asked, and then received repeated phone calls imploring him to come, eventually saying yes after refusing repeatedly. Morrison came down to Sussex with a driver, told the boy and his father he had homes in Chester and London, but not that he was an MP (he said he was a barrister). To the boy’s father’s great regret, he let him go; almost immediately on the journey, Morrison began to sexually assault the boy, who said:

He’d leave me alone for a little bit, and then he’d come at me again. . . . Before long, he had my trousers off. At one point we stopped for petrol, and I thought about running out of the car, but I realised the doors had some sort of child lock and I couldn’t get out. I was so frightened.

Matters got worse: Morrison gave beer and wine to the boy and then took him to a house, which the boy (now a man in his mid-40s) thinks was Elm Guest House. There were seven or eight men around the house, and Morrison took him upstairs, stripped him, and raped him for at least an hour; the man says ‘It was the most horrendous experience of my life.’ Morrison then told him they would be going to the sauna together, visiting a ‘party’, and he would be sleeping in Morrison’s bed later. The boy managed to sneak out of the house unseen, get back on a train to Harting, and tell his father what had happened. A local policeman was called, and the boy was taken to a police doctor, with medics telling the father afterwards that his son had ‘certainly been sexually abused’. Two detectives from Scotland Yard took a full statement from the boy, who soon afterwards received calls at home from various men in London asking where he was, which he attributed to Morrison panicking after he had disappeared. Nothing more happened until two Scotland Yard officers arrived on the family’s doorstep a year later, with the boy’s clothes in a bag, saying that the man in question had been convicted in a Chelsea court, had been imprisoned for two years, and nothing else was to worry about. Only years later did the victim recognise Morrison as a prominent MP in the Thatcher government. Operation Fairbank continue to investigate this story (Bill Gardner, ‘Thatcher confidant raped boy and police covered crime up’, Daily Telegraph, January 5th, 2015). The man now says that:

I believe that Morrison was a high-profile guy so he got away with it. Either the police were paid off or they hushed it up because he was an MP.

“I was never the same after what happened – he ruined my life really. I left school soon afterwards because I lost all my confidence. I couldn’t handle what had happened to me.

Scotland Yard, in January 2015, were unable to confirm whether Morrison had been investigated at the time (Rebecca Camber, ‘Tory MP who was Thatcher’s confidant ‘raped my 14-year-old son at paedophile guest house’, Daily Mail, January 4th, 2015). More ominously, it was revealed that the body of the murdered Vishal Mehortra was found in woodland in Rogate, less than two miles from Harting (‘Thatcher aide could be linked to body found in Rogate’, Midhurst and Petworth Observer, January 10th, 2015).

However, since then reports have alleged that Morrison was arrested twice for picking up men at the toilets at Piccadilly tube, taken to West End Central police station in Savile Row and let off with a caution each time (a second caution is very unusual); the Met are trying to track down officers who were involved with the arrests. There are also rumours of Morrison’s having been caught making similar approaches at toilets in Crew railway station in Cheshire. These have all led to a probe into police corruption and high-level cover-up (Nick Dorman, ‘Probe over claims Margaret Thatcher aide escaped prosecution because of Establishment links’, Sunday People, July 18th, 2015; Martin Beckford, ‘Met launch probe into Maggie aide and its own cover up’, Mail on Sunday, July 19th, 2015). A later report made clear that one of the offences for which Morrison was arrested involved a 15-year old boy (Matt Chorley, ‘Senior Westminster figures from 1970s and 1980s including former Home Secretary Leon Brittan named in government child abuse files’, Daily Mail, July 22nd, 2015).

Peter Morrison 3

The following are the recollections of Grahame Nicholls, who ran the Chester Trades Council (Morrison was the MP for Chester from 1974 to 1992), who wrote:

After the 1987 general election, around 1990, I attended a meeting of Chester Labour party where we were informed by the agent, Christine Russell, that Peter Morrison would not be standing in 1992. He had been caught in the toilets at Crewe station with a 15-year-old boy. A deal was struck between Labour, the local Tories, the local press and the police that if he stood down at the next election the matter would go no further. Chester finished up with Gyles Brandreth and Morrison walked away scot-free. I thought you might be interested. (cited in ‘Simon Hoggart’s week’, The Guardian, November 16th, 2012).

Christine Russell

Former MP for Chester (1997-2010), Christine Russell

This week, it has emerged that previously undiscovered files exist on Morrison (and Leon Brittan, former Wokingham MP Sir William van Straubenzee, and others including a figure named only as ‘Vanessa the Undresser’) which are thought to relate to abuse, and were not seen by Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC when preparing their earlier report (a supplement has been published here) (Tom Parmenter, ‘Key Westminster Figures in Child Abuse Papers’, Sky News, July 23rd, 2015). A report in The Times has named Morrison as an MP about whom communications took place in November 1986 between the late Sir Antony Duff (1920-2000), then head of MI5, and Sir Robert Armstrong, then cabinet secretary. Two sources had approached senior officials with reports that Morrison had ‘a penchant for small boys’. He was questioned about these but the security services accepted his claims that the allegations were false (Daniel Martin, ‘Secret files ‘show MI5 let abuse claim MP off hook’: Security chief said the case would ’embarrass the Government”, Daily Mail, July 22nd, 2015). Duff concluded ‘The risks of political embarrassment to the Government is rather greater than the security danger’ (clearly the interests of the victims did not even filter into Duff and Armstrong’s calculations, as has been commented upon by many, including Wanless and a spokesperson for NSPCC) (Sean O’Neill and Gabriella Swerling, ‘Child abuse suspect was Thatcher aide’, The Times, July 24th, 2015 [see below]; Daniel Martin, ‘Secret files ‘show MI5 let abuse claim MP off the hook’: Security chief said the case would ’embarrass the Government’, Daily Mail, July 22nd, 2015; ‘Child abuse: PM Tells Police – No Limits’, Sky News, July 23rd, 2015; Joseph Watts, ”Child abuse’ files must give justice to victims, says NSPCC chief’, Evening Standard, July 23rd, 2015). Approached a few days ago by The Times, Armstrong had the following to say:

My official business was the protection of national security. I have to stress that there was nothing like evidence in this case. There was just a shadow of a rumour. It’s impossible to take investigative action on shadows of rumours. . . If there is some reason to think a crime has been committed, then people like the cabinet secretary are not to start poking their noses into it. It’s for the police to do that.

To the Mail, Armstrong (who would not name Morrison to them), said:

I thought MI5’s actions were correct at the time. I think they were right to report the rumour, they were right to make what inquiries they could and they were right to come to the conclusion they did. I think if there was evidence it would have been properly examined at the time. I don’t think this is a matter of important people being protected. You can’t pursue inquiries unless you have evidence on which you can base the enquiry. A shadow of a rumour is not enough.

He went on to say ‘I think he [Morrison] was interview but he denied it. It is not my position to name him’, and did not know if Thatcher was made aware of the MI5 decision, which drew a furious response from Rochdale MP and long-term campaigner against child abuse Simon Danczuk (Vanessa Allen, Claire Ellicott and Daniel Martin, ‘I won’t name child abuse MP; Fury as Mrs Thatcher’s Cabinet chief defends failure to act over senior Tory’, Daily Mail, July 24th, 2015). See also Armstrong’s non-committal response to questions sent to him by investigative journalist Tim Tate, and Tate’s own blog on this.

Armstrong, who once became notorious for using the phrase ‘economical with the truth’ when involved in trying to prevent the publication of Peter Wright’s Spycatcher (Sue Reid, ‘Mandarin who can’t help being economical with truth: Lord Armstrong at centre of accusations of child abuse cover-up’, Daily Mail, July 24th, 2015), also has past form in terms of his dismissive responses to the entreaties by pianist and whistleblower Martin Roscoe for the Royal Northern College of Music, of which Armstrong was the chair of the board of governors in 2002, not to employ violinist Malcolm Layfield as their Head of Strings, after his record of sexually exploiting girls at Chetham’s School (see Charlotte Higgins, ‘After Michael Brewer: the RNCM teacher’s story’, The Guardian, February 13th, 2013; ‘Correspondence over appointment of Malcolm Layfield at Royal Northern College of Music’, The Guardian, February 8th, 2013).

On top of everything else, the Labour MP John Mann published a series of important tweets: ‘In 1984 Geoffrey Dickens gave Leon Brittan as Home Secretary a further list of alleged paedophiles linked directly to Peter Morrison’; ‘What happened to the list of Peter Morrison linked paedophiles given to Home Secretary in 1984? And why was no action taken?’‘I have just met person who gave list of Peter Morrison linked paedophiles to Geoffrey Dickens. Astonishing developments and cover ups’; ‘The new list of Dickens names was entirely different to first. It was given to him precisely because of publicity about his initial action’ all of which suggests new dimensions to the files supplied by Dickens to then Home Secretary Leon Brittan.

Sir Peter Morrison (1944-1995) was known, according to an obituary by Patrick Cosgrove, as a right winger who disliked immigration, supported the return of capital punishment, and wished to introduce vouchers for education. He was from a privileged political family; his father, born John Morrison, became Lord Margadale, the squire of Fonthill, led the campaign to ensure Alec Douglas-Home became Prime Minister in 1963, and predicted Thatcher’s ultimate accession to the leadership (Sue Reid, ‘Did Maggie know her closest aide was preying on under-age boys?’, Daily Mail, July 12th, 2014, updated July 16th). The young Peter attended Eton College, then Keble College, Oxford. Entering the House of Commons in 1974 at the age of 29, during the first Thatcher government he occupied a series of non-cabinet ministerial positions, then became Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party in 1986, replacing Jeffrey Archer after his resignation, and working under Chairman Norman Tebbit. His sister, Dame Mary Morrison, became a lady-in-waiting to the Queen (Gyles Brandreth, ”I was abused by my choir master’: In a brave and haunting account, TV star and ex MP Gyles Brandreth reveals the years of abuse he endured at prep school’, Daily Mail, September 12th, 2014).

Morrison was close to Thatcher from when he entered Parliament (see Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (London: Harper Collins, 1993), p. 837), working for her 1975 leadership campaign and, after she became Prime Minister, putting her and Denis up for holiday in the 73 000 acre estate owned by his father in Islay, where games of charades were played (Jonathan Aitken, Margaret Thatcher: Power and Personality (London: Bloomsbury, 2013), pp. 158-160, 279-281); Thatcher stayed there after her 1979 election victory, together with Morrison and also Leon Brittan (see the image below of the three of them, from Tom Shields, ‘Mrs T weathers rainy day blues’; Glasgow Herald, August 17th, 1979; see also Michael White’s his obituary of Brittan on how he helped to ‘keep her entertained during her reluctantly taken holidays’; Michael White, ‘Leon Brittan: Thatcher’s protege turned scapegoat’, The Guardian, January 22nd, 2015) Lord Margadale had previously entertained Princess Alexandra, Harold Macmillan and Ted Heath there. Morrison himself said in 1979 that Thatcher likely knew the people of Islay better than any others, except for in her constituency of Finchley (Tom Shields, ‘Not even on Islay can Mrs Thatcher get away from it all’, Glasgow Herald, August 16th, 1979; Tom Shields, ‘Islay estate sacks half its workers’, Glasgow Herald, August 2nd, 1982).

Thatcher Morrison Brittan

After being appointed as Thatcher’s Parliamentary Private Secretary in 1990, Morrison ran what is generally believed to have been a complacent and lacklustre leadership campaign for her when she was challenged by Michael Heseltine; as is well-known, she did not gain enough votes to prevent a second ballot, and then resigned soon afterwards. Morrison was known to some others as ‘a toff’s toff’, who ‘made it very clear from the outset that he did not intend spending time talking to the plebs’ on the backbenches (Stephen Norris, Changing Trains: An Autobiography (London: Hutchinson, 1996), p. 149).

Jonathan Aitken, a close friend of Morrison’s, would later write the following about him:

I knew Peter Morrison as well as anyone in the House. We had been school friends. He was the best man at my wedding in St Margaret’s, Westminster. We shared many private and political confidences. So I knew the immense pressures he was facing at the time when he was suddenly overwhelmed with the greatest new burden imaginable – running the Prime Minister’s election campaign.

Sixteen years in the House of Commons had treated Peter badly. His health had deteriorated. He had an alcohol problem that made him ill, overweight and prone to take long afternoon naps. In the autumn of 1990 he became embroiled in a police investigation into aspects of his personal life. The allegations against him were never substantiated, and the inquiry was subsequently dropped. But at the time of the leadership election, Peter was worried, distracted and unable to concentrate. (Aitken, Margaret Thatcher, pp. 625-626).

An important article by Nick Davies published in The Guardian in April 1998, also made the following claim:

Fleet Street routinely nurtures a crop of untold stories about powerful abusers who have evaded justice. One such is Peter Morrison, formerly the MP for Chester and the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party. Ten years ago, Chris House, the veteran crime reporter for the Sunday Mirror, twice received tip-offs from police officers who said that Morrison had been caught cottaging in public toilets with underaged boys and had been released with a caution. A less powerful man, the officers complained, would have been charged with gross indecency or an offence against children.

At the time, Chris House confronted Morrison, who used libel laws to block publication of the story. Now, Morrison is dead and cannot sue. Police last week confirmed that he had been picked up twice and never brought to trial. They added that there appeared to be no trace of either incident in any of the official records. (Nick Davies, ‘The sheer scale of child sexual abuse in Britain’, The Guardian, April 1998).

Recently, the former editor of the Sunday Mirror, Paul Connew, has revealed how he was told in 1994 by House of the stories concerning Morrison. Connew has revealed that it was a police officer who was the source, dismayed by the lack of action after Morrison had been arrested for sexually molesting under-age boys; the officer revealed how Morrison had attempted to ‘pull rank’ by demanding to see the most senior officer, and announcing proudly who he was. All the paperwork relating to the arrest simply ‘disappeared’. Connew sent a reporter to confront Morrison at his Chester home, but Morrison dismissed the story and made legal threats, which the paper was not able to counter without naming their police source, which was impossible. The story ultimately died, though Connew was able to establish that in the senior echelons of Scotland Yard, Morrison’s arrest and proclivities were no secret; he had been arrested on multiple occasions in both Chester and London, always hushed up (Paul Connew, ‘Commentary: how paedophile Peter Morrison escaped exposure’, Exaro News, September 26th, 2014).

In an article in the Daily Mail published in October 2012, former Conservative MP and leader of the Welsh Tories Rod Richards claimed that Morrison (and another Tory grandee who has not been named) was connected to the terrible abuse scandals in Bryn Estyn and Bryn Alyn children’s homes, in the Wrexham area of North Wales, having seen documents which identified both politicians as frequent, unexplained visitors. Richards also claimed that William Hague, who was Secretary of State for Wales from 1995 to 1997, and who set up the North Wales Child Abuse inquiry, would have seen the files on Morrison, but sources close to Hague denied that he had seen any such material. A former resident of the Bryn Estyn care home testified to Channel 4 News, testified to seeing Morrison arrive there on five occasions, and may have driven off with a boy in his car (‘Exclusive: Eyewitness ‘saw Thatcher aide take boys to abuse”, Channel 4 News, November 6th, 2012; see also Reid, ‘Did Maggie know her closest aide was preying on under-age boys?’).

Rod Richards

Rod Richards

The owner of Bryn Alyn and other homes, John Allen, was sentenced to life in December 2014 for sexual abuse of 18 boys and one girl there (‘Children’s home boss John Allen jailed for life for campaign of sex abuse’, Daily Telegraph, December 1st, 2014), and was revealed to be a friend of Michael John Carroll, who was abusing children in homes in the London borough of Lambeth (Tom Pettifor and Elwyn Roberts, ‘Two notorious paedophiles at centre of nationwide network of abusers including Tory and Labour politicians, Daily Mirror, December 1st, 2014). The implications – that Morrison was connected not just to abuse in North Wales but also to a wider ring of abusers – are almost too horrifying to contemplate, but must be considered (see also my collection of reports on abuse in Lambeth, which I will update soon).

John Allen

John Allen

More stories and allegations have emerged about a Wrexham paedophile ring operative in the 1970s and 1980s, and trials are ongoing, so I will just link to a few articles about these (James Tozer, ‘Police probe into historic paedophile ring reveals 140 victims allege abuse by 84 people at 18 care homes across North Wales’, Daily Mail, April 29th, 2013; David Holmes, ‘Chester man alleges his child abuse claims were ignored for more than a decade’, The Chester Chronicle, December 3rd, 2014; Steven Morris, ‘Wrexham paedophile ring preyed on boys in north Wales, court told’, The Guardian, April 21st, 2015; ”Predatory’ paedophiles abused boys in Wrexham in the 1980s’, BBC News, April 21st, 2015; ‘Historic Predatory Paedophile Ring In Wrexham Convicted’, Wrexham.com, July 2nd, 2015; Steven Morris, ‘Five men found guilty of being members of ‘predatory paedophile ring”, The Guardian, July 3rd, 2015). As far as those who have been convicted is concerned, it is a matter of paramount importance to establish whether Morrison was acquainted with any of them. The 2000 Waterhouse Inquiry Report concluded that there was a paedophile ring operative in Chester and Wrexham (‘Waterhouse Inquiry: recommendations and conclusions’, The Telegraph, November 6th, 2012), thus linking North Wales abuse to Morrison’s own constituency.

Morrison’s successor as MP for Chester, Gyles Brandreth, told the press that he and his wife Michelle had been told on the doorstep repeatedly and emphatically that the MP was ‘a disgusting pervert’ (David Holmes, ‘Former Chester MP Peter Morrison implicated in child abuse inquiry’, Chester Chronicle, November 8th, 2012). This appeared in Brandreth’s book, Breaking the Code: Westminster Diaries (London : Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999), p. 54, in the entry for September 12th, 1991 (taken from the entry ‘Brandreth on the child abuser Peter Morrison MP’, cathyfox blog, July 26th, 2015):

morrisonbrandreth

In a build-up to the launch of a new edition of Brandreth’s book (London: Biteback Publishing, 2014), which suggested major new revelations but delivered little, Brandreth merely added that when canvassing in 1991 ‘we were told that Morrison was a monster who interfered with children’, and added:

At the time, I don’t think I believed it. People do say terrible things without justification. Beyond the fact that his drinking made Morrison appear unprepossessing — central casting’s idea of what a toff paedophile might look like — no one was offering anything to substantiate their slurs.

At the time, I never heard anything untoward about Morrison from the police or from the local journalists — and I gossiped a good deal with them. Four years after stepping down, Peter Morrison was dead of a heart attack.

Gyles Brandreth

Gyles Brandreth.


What did Mrs Thatcher know of his alleged dark side? When I talked to her about him, I felt she had the measure of the man. She knew he was homosexual, and she knew he was a drinker. She was fond of him, clearly, but told me that he had ruined himself through ‘self-indulgence’ — much as Reginald Maudling had done a generation earlier. (Brandreth, ”I was abused by my choir master’)

Brandreth did however crucially mention that William Hague had told him in 1996 that Morrison’s name might feature in connection with the inquiry into child abuse in North Wales, specifically in connection to Bryn Estyn, thus corroborating Rod Richard’s account, though Brandreth also pointed out that the Waterhouse report made no mention of Morrison (Brandreth, ”I was abused by my choir master’).

At present, William Hague (who retired from the Cabinet and Parliament quite suddenly, stepping down at the 2015 election, in circumstances which have never been fully explained) is expected to be heavily criticised in a forthcoming report on the North Wales abuse scandal, from the Macur inquiry, to which Rod Richards gave evidence (Glen Owen and Brendan Carlin, ‘Hague faces cover-up row over Thatcher ally’s link to care home abuse scandal: Former foreign secretary said to have been made aware of Sir Peter Morrison’s connections while working as Welsh secretary, Mail on Sunday, May 31st, 2015).

On top of all of this, Morrison’s name has surfaced in connection with another murder inquiry (as well as that of Vishal Mehortra), of Martin Allen, who disappeared on Bonfire Night 1979, and has never been found. Morrison was amongst those (together with Peter Hayman and Leon Brittan) who visited the cottage in Kensington of Allen’s father, who was chief chauffeur at the Australian High Commission (Don Hale, ‘Witness comes forward in Martin Allen case linked to Westminster paedophile ring’, Daily Star, April 12th, 2015).

The journalist Simon Heffer has also said that rumours about Morrison were circulating in Tory top ranks as early as 1988, whilst Tebbit has admitted hearing rumours ‘through unusual channels’, then confronting Morrison about them, which he denied (Reid, ‘Did Maggie know her closest aide was preying on under-age boys?’); Tebbit, who has suggested that a cover-up of high-level abuse by politicians is likely, now concedes that he had been ‘naive’ in believing Morrison, and rejected Currie’s account of Morrison having admitted his offences to him (James Lyons, ‘Norman Tebbit admits he heard rumours top Tory was paedophile a decade before truth revealed’, Daily Mirror, July 8th, 2014). In a recent interview, Tebbit has given a slightly different rendition of things, claiming that he had ‘heard stories that Peter had an unhealthy interest in young men but not that it was with underage children. I confronted him about this, he denied it flat’ (Marie Woolf, ‘Tebbit quizzed MP on sex claims’, The Sunday Times, July 26th, 2015). He also refused to say who had told him about Morrison, saying somewhat cryptically:

There was no official contact. I choose my words carefully. I will just say that I was made aware. I was not sent a file.

Furthermore, Tebbit claimed he had had ‘no reason to believe Downing Street was aware of the allegation’, and had not contacted Thatcher about it, nor pursued the matter with the police, as he assumed they had no evidence and would not press charges (which raises the question of whether it was the police who told him).

Other Tory politicians recall John Wakeham, Chief Whip from June 1983 to January 1987 (see Wakeham’s profile at parliament.uk) telling them, after coming to him with reports of Morrison’s cottaging skirmishes, ‘If someone brings me some evidence I can do something about it, if required’. Another Tory said ‘It never got out, but people said ‘they’ll never be able to do that for Peter again’ (Michael White, ‘Politicians regret complacency over alleged establishment child abuse’, The Guardian, March 17th, 2015).

The novelist Frederick Forsyth, on the other hand, described Morrison as someone ‘who should have been exposed many years ago’, as well as being a politically incompetent alcoholic; however, as far as his sexual offences were concerned, Forsyth claimed Thatcher ‘suspected nothing’ (Frederick Forsyth, ‘Debauched and dissolute fool’, The Express, July 18th, 2014).  Later he called Morrison an ‘awful slut’ who was ‘now exposed at last as a ruthless boy-molester’ (Frederic Forsyth, ‘Mrs Thatcher should have chosen better’, Sunday Express, January 9th, 2015).

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher with her private secretary Peter Morrison arriving for the Ian Gow memorial service at St. Margaret's, Westminister, London.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher with her private secretary Peter Morrison arriving for the Ian Gow memorial service at St. Margaret’s, Westminister, London.

Recently, Thatcher’s bodyguard Barry Strevens has come forward to claim that he told Thatcher directly about allegations of Morrison holding sex parties at his house with underage boys (one aged 15), when told about this by a senior Cheshire Police Officer. (see Lynn Davidson, ‘Exclusive: Thatcher’s Bodyguard on Abuse Claims’, The Sun on Sunday, July 27th, 2014 (article reproduced in comments below); and Matt Chorley, ‘Barry Strevens says he told Iron Lady about rumours about Peter Morrison’, Mail on Sunday, July 27th, 2014; see also Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith, ‘Thatcher ‘was warned of Tory child sex party claims’’, The Independent, July 27th, 2014). Strevens claimed to have had a meeting with the PM and her PPS Archie Hamilton (now Baron Hamilton of Epsom), which he had requested immediately. Strevens had claimed this was right after the Jeffrey Archer scandal; Archer resigned in October 1986, whilst Hamilton was Thatcher’s PPS from 1987 to 1988. Strevens recalls Thatcher simply thanking him and that was the last he heard of it. He said:

I wouldn’t say she (Lady Thatcher) was naive but I would say she would not have thought people around her would be like that.

I am sure he would have given her assurances about the rumours as otherwise she wouldn’t have given him the job.

Strevens spoke again to the press in May 2015, to clarify further his account given in July 2014: he said that he had been told by a senior officer in Chester of rumours of under-aged boys attending sex parties at a home owned by Morrison. According to Strevens, Archie Hamilton ‘took notes and they thanked me’ (Hamilton recalls the officer being at Downing Street, but no mention of under-age boys), listened to him, and left it at that. Four years later, Thatcher recommended Morrison for a knighthood, which he received (Jonathan Corke, ‘Margaret Thatcher knew paedophile Tory’s sick secret but STILL secured him a knighthood; The former PM also recommended alleged abuser Leon Brittan and is claimed to have been aware of allegations about fellow knights Jimmy Savile and Cyril Smith’, Sunday People, May 9th, 2015)

Barry Strevens

Barry Strevens

Barry Strevens with Thatcher

Strevens with Thatcher


Danczuk, who says that he met someone who alleges that Morrison raped him, made clear that in his view ‘There is little doubt in my mind that Margaret Thatcher turned a blind eye to known paedophiles from Peter Morrison to Cyril Smith and the rest.’ (James Lyons and James Gillespie, ‘Thatcher ignored Smith Abuse’, The Sunday Times, March 8th, 2015).

The accounts by Nicholls and Strevens make clear that the allegations – concerning in one case a 15-year old boy – are more serious than said in a later rendition by Currie, which said merely that Morrison ‘had sex with 16-year-old boys when the age of consent was 21’ (cited in Andrew Sparrow, ‘Politics Live’, The Guardian, October 24th, 2012). A further allegation was made by Peter McKelvie, who led the investigation in 1992 into Peter Righton in an open letter to Peter Mandelson. A British Aerospace Trade Union Convenor had said one member had alleged that Morrison raped him, and he took this to the union’s National HQ, who put it to the Labour front bench. A Labour minister reported back to say that the Tory Front Bench had been approached. This was confirmed, according to McKelvie, by second and third sources, and also alleged that the conversations first took place at a 1993-94 Xmas Party hosted by the Welsh Parliamentary Labour Party. Mandelson has not yet replied.

In the 1997 election, Christine Russell herself displaced Brandreth and she served as Labour MP until 2010, when she was unseated by Conservative MP Stephen Mosely (see entry for ‘Christine Russell’ at politics.co.uk).

In 2013, following the publication of Hoggart’s article citing Nicholls, an online petition was put together calling for an inquiry, and submittted to then Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State Christopher Grayling. Russell denounced the ‘shoddy journalism’ of the Guardian piece, recalled rumours of Morrison’s preferences, but said there was no hint of illegal acts; she did not however rule out an agreement that Morrison should stand down (‘Campaigners ask for inquiry over ex-Chester MP’, Chester Chronicle, January 3rd, 2013).

Morrison is now widely believed to have been a central character in a network of high-level VIP abusers (see Keir Mudie, ‘VIP paedophile files: The sick web of high-powered and well-connected child abusers’, Sunday People, March 21st, 2015).

Further questions now need to be asked of Lord Tebbit, Teresa Gorman, Edwina Currie, William Hague and other senior Tories, and crucially of Frances Mowatt, not to mention Christine Russell and others in Chester Labour Party, of what was known and apparently covered-up about Morrison. Frances Maude (now Baron Maude of Horsham), the Minister of State for Trade and Investment, was PPS to Morrison from 1984-85 (see Maude’s biography at politics.co.uk), a crucial period, and also needs to be questioned on what he knew about his former boss’s activities. In March of this year, Maude, then Cabinet Minister, refused to make details of newly-found files public (Tom Parmenter, ‘Family Demands Names Of New Child Abuse Files’, Sky News, March 7th, 2015); it appears now that one of these files referred to his old boss Morrison. If money was involved in at least offers to Mowatt, as Currie alleges was told to her by Gorman, then the seriousness of the allegations is grave. In October 2014, Currie arrogantly and haughtily declared on Twitter:


@MaraudingWinger @DrTeckKhong @MailOnline I’ve been nicer than many deserve! But I take the consequences, & I do not hide behind anonymity.

@jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel @woodmouse1 I heard only tiny bits of gossip. The guy is dead, go pursue living perps. You’ll do more good

@woodmouse1 @jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel The present has its own demands. We learn from the past, we don’t get obsessive about it. Get real.

@ian_pace @woodmouse1 @jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel And there are abusers in action right now, while you chase famous dead men.

@ian_pace @woodmouse1 @jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel I’d rather police time be spent now on today’s criminals – detect, stop and jail them

@jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel @woodmouse1 Flattered that you think I know so much. Sorry but that’s not so. If you do, go to police

@ian_pace @woodmouse1 @jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel They want current crimes to be dealt with by police, too. And they may need other help.

@ian_pace @woodmouse1 @jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel Of course. But right now, youngsters are being hurt and abused. That matters.

Considering Currie also rubber-stamped the appointment of Jimmy Savile at Broadmoor (Rowena Mason, ‘Edwina Currie voices regrets over Jimmy Savile after inquiry criticism’, The Guardian, Thursday June 26th, 2014) and clearly knew information about Morrison, including claims of bribery of a political agent, known to at least one other MP (Gorman) as well as herself, it should not be surprising that she would want claims of abuse involving dead figures to be sidelined.

Edwina Currie

Edwina Currie

This story relates to political corruption at the highest level, with a senior politician near the top of his party involved in the abuse of children, and clear evidence that various others knew about this, but did nothing, and strong suggestions that politicians and police officers conspired to keep this covered up, even using hush money, in such a way which ensured that Morrison was free to keep abusing others until his death. This story must not be allowed to die this time round. The actions of Duff and Armstrong (and Thatcher) may have sealed the fate of further boys who Morrison went onto abuse. That is the highest dereliction of duty imaginable.



The Times, July 24th, 2015
Sean O’Neill and Gabriella Swerling, ‘Child abuse suspect was Thatcher aide’

The Westminster politician protected by MI5 when suspected of child abuse was the Conservative MP Peter Morrison, who became one of Margaret Thatcher’s aides, The Times has learnt.

A Whitehall investigation was carried out in the mid-1980s after two sources approached senior officials with reports that Morrison had “a penchant for small boys”.

MI5 officers questioned Morrison, the MP for Chester and deputy chairman of the party, and accepted his denials. It is understood that the allegations were not reported to police. Four years later, in July 1990, he was appointed Thatcher’s parliamentary private secretary (PPS).

Files recently uncovered at the Cabinet Office revealed a note about the incident sent in November 1986 by Sir Antony Duff, head of the Security Service, to Sir Robert Armstrong, the cabinet secretary. It said there was no threat to national security but the claims did carry “the risk of political embarrassment to the government”.

Sir Robert, 88 – now Lord Armstrong of Ilminster – said last night: “My official business was the protection of national security. I have to stress that there was nothing like evidence in this case. There was just a shadow of a rumour. It’s impossible to take investigative action on shadows of rumours.”

He added: “If there is some reason to think a crime has been committed, then people like the cabinet secretary are not to start poking their noses into it. It’s for the police to do that.”

Morrison, who died in 1995, had been a whip and a junior minister before he was made Thatcher’s PPS. His Times obituary said that he “had clearly reached his ministerial ceiling [in 1990] and it was an act of kindness on the prime minister’s part to appoint him as her new PPS”.

He held the job for four months until November 1990, when he mismanaged the party leadership contest that led to Thatcher’s resignation.

The documents referring to Morrison are in four miscellaneous files discovered by a Cabinet Office team this year.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, who led a review into lost Whitehall documents on abuse scandals, said that the Duff memo revealed that “child safety came a poor second to preserving reputations of individuals or government departments”.

Writing in The Times today, he says: “It is plainly obvious . . . those at the highest level who once strode the corridors of power were putting their fear of political embarrassment above the risks to children.”

The documents have been sent to the Goddard inquiry into child sexual abuse which formally opened this month.


Colin Tucker, steward to Fiona Woolf, Fettesgate and the Scottish ‘Magic Circle’ Affair, and Wider Networks – Part 2

[Continued from Part 1]

The Herald, February 21st, 1996
James Mckillop, ‘Journalist receives Fettesgate apology’

SCOTTISH journalist and broadcaster Duncan Campbell has broken new ground by winning an apology from the Broadcasting Complaints Commission over a Channel 4 documentary on the so-called Fettesgate scandal.

The Scotsman newspaper will be asked to carry the apology tomorrow over its role in publishing some of the attack on the award-winning reporter.

A break-in at Lothian Police headquarters was a legitimate ground for journalistic investigation.

In doing so Mr Campbell reported the activities of criminal Derek Donaldson and as a consequence was seriously beaten up. Donaldson went to jail for the attack.

Nevertheless, Donaldson appealed to the BCC that Mr Campbell had been unfair to him and had infringed his privacy. The BCC upheld that complaint.

Campaigning journalist Campbell wrote an article in Broadcast magazine defending his role. Incensed, the BCC’s secretary, Mr Robert Hargreaves, wrote an article in reply and some of his remarks were published in the Scotsman.

The comments made by Mr Hargreaves were at the heart of a libel action that has now been settled out of court.

In an agreed statement between the parties, it is made clear that Mr Campbell was entitled to attack criticisms of him by the BCC.

In addition, the BCC will admit that Mr Hargreaves’s article in reply wrongly suggested that Mr Campbell was connected to criminals interviewed in the programme.

The apology will go on to say: “The commission also accept that it was wrong for the article to have suggested that Mr Campbell attempted to eavesdrop on Mr Donaldson’s telephone conversations.

“The article repeated critical comments about Mr Campbell’s alleged conduct towards him and his mother going beyond what could be supported by the commission’s findings in their adjudication.”

The BCC will say in its apology that the article was not intended to be an attack on Mr Campbell’s sincerity or his integrity as a campaigning journalist and that the commission regretted a contrary impression that might have been given.

Mr Campbell said last night: “The most astonishing thing is it got to this stage. It took a court case to get BCC to admit that criminal violence was wrong.”


Scotland on Sunday
, March 19th, 2000
Peter Laing, ‘Police uncover plot to smear senior officers’

TWO of Scotland’s most senior police officers – one now a chief constable – were placed under surveillance by their own men in a determined plot to destroy their careers.

A handful of rogue detectives in the Lothian and Borders force, embittered by lack of promotion and what they viewed as attacks on CID, kept their bosses under close observation in a failed bid to find evidence of wrongdoing.

Scotland on Sunday can reveal that those targeted in the conspiracy were Andrew Brown, at the time Assistant Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders and now head of Grampian police, and Tom Wood, the force’s deputy chief.

There is also evidence that former deputy chief Graham Power was on the list.

Last October a detective made serious allegations of corruption against Wood which have been under investigation for the past five months by John Hamilton, the head of Fife police. Tomorrow, Hamilton is expected to tell a meeting of Lothian and Borders Police Board that the allegations against Wood are groundless.

But the inquiry has revealed that as well as individual officers unhappy with the management of the force, some conspired together in the hope they could undermine its entire management. Wood’s flat in Edinburgh was recently broken into and searched. Force insiders say the crime, for which no one has been caught, could be related.

Last night, politicians expressed shock that serving CID officers had spied on their own chiefs and called for a full inquiry into the scandal.

The plot to topple the leadership of Scotland’s second-biggest force had its origins in the 1992 Fettesgate Affair, which enveloped Lothian and Borders in scandal for months.

The force’s headquarters at Fettes in Edinburgh were broken into and a secret report on the alleged influence of gays on the justice system was stolen. Heads rolled within CID when it emerged detectives had struck an immunity deal with the intruder for the return of the report.

Bitterness within CID over the Fettesgate fall-out was compounded with the introduction, from the mid-90s, of a policy called ‘tenure’, where officers were rotated out of jobs. Many long-serving detectives were furious at being moved out of the elite to other sections in the police.

Andrew Brown was appointed head of CID in the wake of Fettesgate and later, as assistant chief in charge of the department, was blamed for much of the impact of tenure.

Wood, at the time an assistant chief, made enemies by blocking promotions and championing liberal policies on cannabis possession and prostitution.

Those two turned out to be the main targets for the renegade officers. A force insider said: “A handful of disgruntled officers decided enough was enough and it was time to hit back.

Our information is that Brown and Wood were followed as they went about their own business.”

The insider added: “What is truly disturbing about this is, if these officers are warped enough to spend their time stalking senior police officers rather than chasing criminals, how can they be trusted to protect the public?”

Neither Brown nor Wood was aware of being under observation. The operation only came to light after the corruption allegations were made against Wood. Officers came forward to say the CID men involved in the surveillance had told them about it.

Two weeks after the break in at Wood’s flat, allegations were made that he had halted a drugs operation against boyhood friend Kenneth Erickson, who served 13 years of a life sentence for murder.

After Hamilton’s report is presented in private to the police board tomorrow, it will go to the procurator fiscal for consideration.

Michael Matheson, the SNP’s deputy justice spokesman, said: “If there is evidence members of CID put Brown and Wood under surveillance, that is a matter for urgent investigation.”

Lyndsay McIntosh, Tory deputy spokeswoman on law and order, said last night she was shocked that renegade officers had been spying on their own bosses. “They have behaved worse than jealous old women when they should be chasing criminals,” she said. Lothian and Borders police refused to comment.


Scotland on Sunday, March 19th, 2000
Jeremy Watson, ‘Field Day for Scandal and Conspiracy’

THE events that became branded as Fettesgate took place during the summer of 1992, but had their roots in rumours which swept Edinburgh legal circles three years earlier concerning a ‘magic circle’ of gay judges who were somehow showing leniency to homosexual criminals.

The rumours were given momentum by the unexpected resignation in 1989 of a leading Scottish High Court judge.

Nothing was ever proved.

A bizarre breaking and entering at the Fettes headquarters of Lothian and Borders Police in July 1992 revived the affair and put it back on to the front pages of every newspaper in the country.

An intruder crept through an open window at night and stole documents from the CID offices. Animal Liberation Front slogans daubed on the walls were a cover for the real purpose of the raid – to obtain an internal police report that examined the ‘magic circle’ within the highest echelons of the Scottish judiciary. The report had been written by a senior detective who concluded that there was evidence to support such claims – a conclusion destined to be over-ruled by more senior officers including the then Chief Constable Sir William Sutherland.

That the report had fallen into the hands of the criminal fraternity was a major source of embarrassment to the force. Frantic efforts were made to recover it – leading to the downfall of some of Lothian’s top detectives.

The prime suspect thought to be behind the raid was Derek Donaldson, 32, a convicted fraudster and occasional police informant. Two detectives eventually promised Donaldson immunity from prosecution as long as the documents were returned. But once Sir William learned of the deal, he acted swiftly to veto it. Detective Chief Superintendent William Hiddleston retired. Detective Sergeant Peter Brown was put back into uniform. Other CID officers with a connection to the case were also forced to move departments.

But the embarrassment did not end there. The internal report and its controversial initial conclusion was later leaked to the Press, causing a major public inquiry. The Crown Office appointed a highly regarded QC, William Nimmo Smith, and a regional procurator-fiscal, James Friel, to investigate.

Before the report was officially published Nimmo Smith was duped into revealing his findings to a bogus journalist. The ‘journalist’ was none other than Derek Donaldson who immediately sold his ‘scoop’ to The Sun, indicating that the report had found no evidence of a homosexual conspiracy.

In May, Donaldson was jailed for assaulting a real journalist who had continued to investigate the events. But the reverberations are still being felt within a Lothian CID old guard who saw colleagues’ careers destroyed while management remained largely unscathed.


Scotland on Sunday
, March 19th, 2000
Peter Laing, ‘Watching the Detectives’

IN OCTOBER last year, one of Scotland’s most senior policemen returned home to discover he had been the victim of something many of his officers spend much of their time investigating: a housebreaking.

The door to Tom Wood’s flat had been kicked wide open. Inside, it looked like a bomb had gone off. Locked drawers had been wrenched open and rifled, as had a box full of documents.

Those responsible had broken into the other three flats in the stair of the building in Edinburgh’s fashionable West End after bypassing an entryphone system, although the door was regularly left open.

Objects of minor value had been taken from the other flats, but Wood, the Deputy Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police, was relieved to discover nothing at all had been stolen from his.

Scenes of crime officers duly toiled out to Wood’s flat. Close examination yielded no fingerprints or forensic evidence but Wood’s home appeared to have been searched more thoroughly than the others.

Two weeks later, a trashed home was the least of Wood’s worries. A long -serving detective with Lothian and Borders Police went to his bosses and made several serious allegations of corruption against the Deputy Chief Constable.

The ‘whistle-blower’ claimed Wood had arranged for a drugs operation against Kenneth Erickson, an old childhood friend who was also a convicted murderer, to be dropped. He claimed the two had bought properties together, and Wood allowed drugs and stolen goods to be stored there.

The Chief Constable of Fife, John Hamilton, was drafted in to investigate the allegations. Tomorrow, after five months, he will hand his findings to Lothian and Borders Police Board and it seems certain Wood will be cleared of any wrongdoing. It remains to be seen whether Wood can continue his meteoric rise as one of the country’s most forward-thinking police officers, and realise his long-cherished ambition to become a Chief Constable.

But the investigation has found that as well as a number of individual officers with complaints about the force’s very senior men, there were also some who got together to actively plot their downfall.

Scotland on Sunday can reveal that a handful of old-school CID men within Lothian and Borders were desperate to undermine not only Wood, but former Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Brown, who has since become Chief Constable of Grampian Police. There is evidence that the force’s former Deputy Chief Constable, Graham Power was also a target.

This is a story of how determined – and possibly brutal – efforts to modernise policing methods set dyed-in-the-wool officers on a collision course with ambitious career policemen. And it raises disturbing questions about how a small clique of embittered police officers who are prepared to put their own bosses under surveillance – and maybe even arrange break-ins to collect ‘dirt’ – can be trusted to deal with the public.

THE story starts with another break-in. This time it was the summer of 1992 and the location was Lothian and Borders Police headquarters at Fettes in Edinburgh. Fettesgate, as it was to become known, led to the departure from the CID of several old-school officers: men who considered themselves part of an elite, and who had little time for the finer details of modern police procedure.

In the aftermath of Fettesgate little, if any, blame was attached to force chiefs.

Wood, at the time an Assistant Chief Constable, went on to win promotion to deputy. Andrew Brown took the job as head of the CID from Bill Hiddleston, who quit when it emerged an immunity deal had been struck between the Fettesgate intruder and police. Brown was later promoted to Assistant Chief Constable before getting the top job at Grampian.

Graham Power, at the time an ACC, moved up to deputy and is now number two at the Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland.

In such circumstances, bitterness was sure to follow. But for those in the CID who were upset by Fettesgate, much worse was to come.

It was called tenure, and while it seems an innocuous term, its impact on police officers from the mid-1990s onwards was nothing short of seismic. Tenure meant doing away with the old system in which it was normal for police officers to spend their entire careers in one area, such as the CID, traffic, or uniform patrols.

Instead, they were to be moved from department to department every few years.

No one in the force will speak openly about these matters – least of all Wood himself – until the official announcement of the outcome of the inquiry. But it has been, as police themselves might say, the talk of the steamie for months.

One officer said: “Tenure caused a huge amount of bitterness. You had guys with almost 30 years in CID who were told with just a week’s notice they were back in uniform. You have to understand that CID was an elite. Tenure was brought in partly to stop people working in one place too long and becoming corrupt. But tenure destroyed careers – some old CID hands couldn’t stand the shame.”

The source added: “It was a national policy but it was imposed particularly ruthlessly in this force. I believe our CID was destroyed. So much expertise was lost. It wasn’t just CID. At one stage traffic was so short on properly trained drivers they couldn’t send enough patrol cars out.

Graham Power was seen as the one really pushing it hard. Andrew Brown was in charge of CID and got a lot of flak too.”

As far back as 1994, Power publicly accused elements in his own force of trying to smear him. He suffered excruciating embarrassment that year when a newspaper revealed he had left a garage near Falkirk without paying for petrol worth GBP 13.50. Power explained that after putting petrol in his car he picked a GBP 3.99 bunch of flowers and paid for them with a GBP 20 note, but forgot to pay for the petrol.

He said at the time: “I believe that false information regarding this incident has been leaked to the press by a disloyal employee seeking to damage the reputation of myself and the force.”

Three years later, mischief-making turned sinister when disaffected CID men decided to place their own bosses under surveillance. They hoped that by watching both Wood and Brown they would uncover evidence of wrongdoing with which to bring them down.

The information only came to light following the allegations against Wood last year. Officers came forward to say they had been told about the surveillance operation directly by those involved.

It is believed the conspirators used police time and resources over several months to maintain the surveillance regime. A source said: “We believe Wood and Brown were regularly followed after leaving work to see where they ended up.

Those involved in the surveillance were looking for anything at all to use against them, however small. What is truly disturbing about this is if these officers are warped enough to spend their time stalking senior police officers rather than chasing criminals how can they be trusted to protect the public? It shows how obsessed they had become.”

Shortly afterwards, Brown became chief in Aberdeen and Power moved across Edinburgh to the inspectorate, leaving Wood as the sole target for CID men smarting over liberal cops, Fettesgate, tenure, and lack of promotion.

Wood, promoted to Deputy Chief Constable in August 1998, was far from conciliatory. In fact, he tightened the screw on the CID.

“Wood was not happy with CID. He thought their clear-up rate was crap,” said a source. “He demanded a lot more from them and got it. It made certain people even angrier. There was a clash of cultures too. Wood is well-known for taking a pragmatic line on things like cannabis and prostitution in saunas. Some of the old school hate him for that.”

In October last year direct allegations were made against Wood over alleged ‘links’ between Wood and Kenneth Erickson, a childhood friend who served 13 years for murder.

The officer who finally made the allegations is said to be embittered at his lack of progress within the service, and directly blames Wood for stopping a move to Special Branch. Supporters of Wood believe the individual only moved against the Deputy Chief after serving exactly 26 and a half years in the force; enough to give him 30 years’ pension rights if he was to retire on grounds of ill health.

SO WAS the break-in at Wood’s flat linked to a conspiracy? No one has been caught for the crime. A source said: “The break-in happened two weeks before the allegations were made.

Break-ins affect everyone, even Deputy Chief Constables, but was someone looking for proof of incriminating links to Erickson, or anything that could be used to hang Wood out to dry? Nothing was stolen and nothing incriminating found but the place was searched pretty thoroughly. Without more hard evidence the feeling is that it’s fifty-fifty.”

When Chief Constable Hamilton delivers his report tomorrow, it is expected he will say the allegations against Wood are groundless. The matter is unlikely to end there. Lothian and Borders Police faces the poisonous problem of a senior officer and a small number of renegade CID men being sworn enemies.

An investigation into the activities of the conspirators could follow with internal disciplinary – and even legal action – not ruled out. “Wood will have to be very careful,” said a source. “He’s smarting but can’t be seen to be out for revenge.”

Another officer said: “Let’s keep this in perspective. We’re talking about a handful of loose cannons causing harm. Some of us don’t like Wood but we respect him. This is a disciplined force not a social club and if the boss says ‘jump’ you ask ‘how high?'”


Evening Press (Edinburgh),
 March 20th, 2000
Chris Marks, ‘Police Plot Denied’

SENIOR police sources today dismissed claims of a plot against some of the highest ranking officers in the Lothian and Borders force.

And the detective who made a complaint against Deputy Chief Constable Tom Wood was described as a highly regarded and competent officer by a colleague.

The sources say Mr Wood will be cleared eventually following today’s hearing by Lothian and Borders Police Board following the complaint made in October by a serving detective sergeant -believed to be based at Gayfield Square, in the city centre.

He claimed Mr Wood had a drugs operation against a former schoolfriend dropped, had bought property with the suspect and allowed drugs and stolen goods to be stored there.

Claims have arisen over the last few days suggesting the complaint against Mr Wood was the result of a conspiracy by a group of rogue detectives to smear high-ranking police officers.

It has been alleged that a group of disgruntled officers, upset by recent reforms to the force, had set out deliberately to undermine Mr Wood and two of his former colleagues.

The “old-school” detectives allegedly placed the senior officers under surveillance hoping to uncover evidence of wrongdoing in their bosses’ private lives.

A senior source today dismissed the claims of a major conspiracy and said any discontent was limited to two or three officers who had become frustrated at a lack of promotion.

And another source said: “The DS who made the complaint against Mr Wood is held in very high regard by his colleagues and he is seen as being a very competent officer.

“I have got no reason to think these complaints were born out of malice.”

The source also dismissed suggestions that the officer had chosen to wait until he had served 26-and-a-half years in the force – enough to give him 30 years’ pension rights if he was retired on ill health – before making the allegations.

Mr Wood today refused to comment on the report or the conspiracy claims.

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said today: “The inquiry is a matter for the police board. However, we expect it to be wide ranging and to cover all facets of all allegations made.

“The matter is still under referral to the procurator fiscal.”

Scottish Justice Minister Jim Wallace today called for an investigation into the conspiracy claims.

“I will be asking the chief constable, Sir Roy Cameron, for a report on these allegations,” he said today.

A report by John Hamilton, the chief constable of Fife, was submitted to a meeting of the Lothian and Borders Board’s complaints sub-committee today. Following the meeting, which was held in private, board convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “The sub-committee were advised the report by the investigating officer had been placed in the hands of the procurator fiscal in Dundee.

“Until the outcome of the considerations by the fiscal is known no further comment can be made.

Submission of the report to the fiscal is part of the standard procedure in such cases.

“Mr Hamilton was present at this morning’s meeting and briefed members on his report. The sub-committee is confident Mr Hamilton has conducted a far -reaching and thorough investigation.”

The alleged conspiracy also drew in former Lothian and Borders assistant chief constable Andrew Brown, now chief constable of Grampian Police, and the force’s former deputy chief constable Graham Power, now number two at the Police Inspectorate.

Neither were available to comment today.

The plot was said to have had its roots in the “Fettesgate” affair during which a report was stolen during a break-in at the police’s headquarters at Fettes.

The report centred on rumours that a “magic circle” of gay Scottish judges were being lenient towards homosexual criminals.

The investigation followed claims that detectives had offered immunity to the suspect in exchange for the return of the stolen report.

The resulting probe into the handling of the case led to a detective superintendent being retired, another put back into uniform and several CID officers forced into other departments.

Officers were alleged to have become disgruntled with the handling of the affair and were further accused of setting out to discredit the officers seen as being behind it.


Aberdeen Press and Journal
, March 20th, 2000
Alan Young, ‘Police chief was victim of force ‘conspiracy’; CID stalked Brown to destroy career – claim’

GRAMPIAN Chief Constable Andrew Brown yesterday refused to comment on claims that he was put under surveillance by disgruntled officers while assistant chief at the Lothian and Borders force.

Mr Brown and Lothian’s deputy chief Tom Wood were the victims of a conspiracy by their own detectives, it was reported yesterday.

A handful of detectives had stalked the pair in order to uncover evidence of wrongdoing and destroy their careers, it was claimed.

The alleged plot against Mr Brown and Mr Wood was said to have its origins in the Fettesgate Affair in 1992 when the Lothian Police HQ was broken into and a secret report on the alleged influence of homosexuals on the justice system was stolen.

It led to the downfall of several officers after it was revealed detectives had agreed immunity from prosecution for the alleged intruder in exchange for the return of the document.

There was also bitterness in the ranks at a policy which saw officers rotated around jobs, with many long -serving CID officers told to go back to uniform, the report claimed.

Mr Brown became head of CID following Fettesgate.

The surveillance operation was said to have come to light after a detective made serious allegations of corruption against Mr Wood last October.

Fife Police chief John Hamilton, who has been investigating the corruption claims, is to report on his findings today.

Mr Brown would not comment yesterday on the story.

A Grampian Police spokes-man said: “It would be inappropriate for Mr Brown or the force to comment.”

Councillor Marianne Stewart, chairwoman of Grampian Joint Police Board said: “It’s not my policy to comment on things I know nothing about.”

But North-east SNP MSP Irene McGugan said: “It seems if there is any evidence that people in the CID have put Mr Brown and others under surveillance then that is something that needs to be looked into.”

Mr Brown, who is in his mid-50s, has been a policeman since 1964 and has worked in a variety of departments. The father-of -two was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in the 1997 New Year’s Honours.

He took over at Grampian in June, 1998, from Ian Oliver, who quit after a series of controversies, including the way the force handled the Scott Simpson murder inquiry.

 

Aberdeen Evening Express, March 20th, 2000
‘Cop Boss silent over conspiracy theory’

GRAMPIAN Police’s Chief Constable has refused to comment on reports he had been put under surveillance by officers at his former force.

Andrew Brown and Lothian and Borders Deputy Chief Constable Tom Wood were the victims of a conspiracy by colleagues, it was claimed yesterday.

A handful of officers had stalked the pair in an attempt to uncover evidence of wrongdoing and destroy their careers at Lothian and Borders, a report said.

The alleged plot is said to have stemmed from the Fettesgate affair in 1992 when the Lothian and Borders HQ was broken into and a secret report on the influence of homosexuals on the justice system stolen.

The affair led to the downfall of several officers after it was revealed detectives had agreed immunity from prosecution for the alleged intruder in exchange for the return of the document.

Mr Brown became the head of CID in the wake of the scandal at a time when a number of officers were told to go back into uniform.

The surveillance operation on Mr Brown and the other officer was said to have come to light after a detective made allegations of corruption against Mr Wood last October.

Fife Police chief John Hamilton, who has been investigating the claims, was due to report his findings today.

Mr Brown would not comment on the story.

 

The Scotsman, March 21st, 2000
Stephen Rafferty, ‘CID group plotted to smear boss, inquiry finds’

A POLICE chief’s four-month investigation into allegations of corruption levelled against one of Scotland’s most senior officers has found he was the victim of a vendetta by a small group of his own CID officers.

John Hamilton, the chief constable of Fife, told councillors yesterday that claims that the Lothian and Borders deputy chief constable, Tom Wood, was passing information to a convicted killer were groundless.

As revealed exclusively by The Scotsman last week, a number of disaffected detectives, frustrated by a lack of promotion and a dislike of Mr Wood’s liberal views, put him under surveillance in the hope of finding incriminating evidence to support their suspicions.

Mr Wood’s flat in Edinburgh was ransacked during a break-in just weeks before a detective sergeant made the corruption allegations and – four years earlier – another junior officer offered to supply information to a tabloid newspaper which he said would embarrass his boss.

The two detectives are believed to have been working together to discredit Mr Wood, and, at one stage, a dossier on the highly respected officer was offered to another detective, who was suspended and under investigation for another matter, with the advice that he might use the information to his advantage.

After a meeting of Lothian and Borders Police Board complaints sub-committee yesterday, the convener, Lesley Hinds, said she was satisfied there had been “a far-reaching and thorough investigation” into the claims.

Mr Hamilton’s report has been passed to the procurator-fiscal, but the board said it could not comment on the contents.

The justice minister, Jim Wallace, has called for a report from the chief constable, Sir Roy Cameron, on The Scotsman’s revelations, but force insiders say a separate investigation is unnecessary because Mr Hamilton’s report is expected to detail the background to the allegations.

A source also played down reports that a conspiracy against Mr Wood was rooted in the so-called “Fettesgate” affair of 1992, when a sensitive report into the alleged “magic circle” of gay judges was stolen from the headquarters of the Lothian and Borders force.

In the fall-out from the affair, many senior CID officers were demoted, moved or retired, while others escaped unscathed, but claims that Mr Wood was now paying the price for the debacle were said to be inaccurate.

A source said: “To link the Tom Wood situation with Fettesgate is like adding two and two and getting 500.

“It is more a case of a few loose cannons who have set out to make mischief, because they blame Wood for blocking promotions and because their old -fashioned views did not tally with his.”

The corruption allegations surrounded Mr Wood’s friendship with a convicted killer, Kenneth Erickson, who was jailed for life in 1971 for the murder of a 16-year-old youth.

It was claimed that Mr Wood was involved in buying property with Erickson and that he halted an undercover drug investigation against him.

Mr Wood, who was unavailable for comment yesterday, maintains that Erickson was a boyhood friend and the pair became re-acquainted after he was released from jail.

Lothian and Borders Police refused to comment yesterday, but Sir Roy Cameron is known to be furious that his force is again at the centre of unwanted attention.

 

Evening News (Edinburgh), March 21st, 2000
Chris Marks, ‘Wood Conspiracy Theory just a ‘Smokescreen”

THE investigation into complaints against Lothian and Borders Police deputy chief constable Tom Wood found no evidence of an alleged conspiracy to smear top-ranking officers, a senior source said today.

The officer leading the inquiry, Fife chief constable John Hamilton, was “specifically asked” about reports that there was a vendetta against Mr Wood, Lothian and Borders’ former assistant chief constable Andrew Brown and former deputy chief constable Graham Power.

But he told members of the Lothian and Borders Police board that nothing had been found to support the claims.

A source close to the police board today described the claims as “absolutely inaccurate” and said they were being used as a “smokescreen”.


Exaggerated

The source added: “John Hamilton was explicitly asked about these claims and he said there is absolutely no truth in them as far as his inquiry has found.

“There may have been one or two disgruntled officers but any talk of a conspiracy is wide of the mark. It’s just all been exaggerated.

“It’s been about diverting attention from the real issues – a smokescreen.

“These claims were looked at as part of the investigation and Mr Hamilton found there was no truth to them.”

Mr Hamilton’s report is believed to have cleared Mr Wood of complaints made against him in October by a serving Detective Sergeant.

The officer – who colleagues have described as competent and highly regarded – alleged Lothian and Borders’ second in command had halted a drugs operation against childhood friend Kenneth Erickson, who served 13 years of a life sentence for murder.

The detective also claimed Mr Wood and Mr Erickson had bought property together and the policeman had allowed drugs and stolen property to be stored there.

A five month investigation followed during which both Mr Wood and the detective who had made the complaint continued to serve with the force.

Mr Hamilton’s report was finally passed to the complaints sub-committee police board on Monday but no formal response is expected until it has been dealt with by the procurator fiscal.

Reports in the national press claimed the complaint was the culmination of a conspiracy against Mr Wood and his colleagues by “old school” CID officers disgruntled at modernising influences within the force.

On Monday, senior police sources dismissed the claims of a conspiracy.

And another officer defended the record of the DS who made the complaint saying: “He is held in very high regard by colleagues and he is seen as being a very competent officer.

“I have no reason to think these complaints were born out of malice.”

Speaking after the private meeting of the sub-committee on Monday, Police Board Convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, said: “The Sub-Committee were advised the report by the investigating officer had been placed in the hands of the Procurator Fiscal in Dundee.

“Until the outcome of the considerations by the Fiscal is known, no further comment can be made. Submission of the report to the Fiscal is part of the standard procedure in such cases.

Allegations

“Mr Hamilton was present at this morning’s meeting and briefed members on his report. The Sub-Committee is confident Mr Hamilton has conducted a far -reaching and thorough investigation”.

Neither Mr Wood, Mr Power nor Mr Brown would comment on the conspiracy claims.

A spokesperson for Lothian and Borders Police said: “Mr Hamilton’s inquiry is a matter for the police board.

“However, we expect it to be wide ranging and to cover all facets of all allegations made. The matter is still under referral to the procurator fiscal.”

The alleged conspiracy was claimed to have had its roots in the “Fettesgate” affair in 1992, during which a report into rumours that a “magic circle” of gay Scottish judges were being lenient towards homosexual criminals was stolen during a break in at the police’s headquarters at Fettes.

An investigation followed after claims detectives had offered immunity to the suspect in exchange for the return of the report. The resulting investigation into the handling of the case led to a detective superintendent being retired, another put back into uniform and several CID officers forced into other departments.

Officers were alleged to have become disgruntled with the handling of the affair and had set out to discredit the officers seen as being behind it.

 

Scotland on Sunday, March 26th, 2000
Peter Laing, ‘Detectives in Plot against Top Officers likely to escape action’

THE detectives who plotted to undermine two of Scotland’s most senior police officers seem certain to escape punishment, according to senior police sources.

Scotland on Sunday revealed last week that rogue officers placed Andrew Brown, now the chief constable of Grampian, and Tom Wood, the deputy chief at Lothian and Borders, under surveillance in an attempt to pick up information that could destroy their careers.

It has now emerged that none of the plotters is likely to face criminal charges or internal action because they can claim they were simply doing their jobs.

That is because a police officer who suspects a crime has been committed but fails to act, risks being accused of neglecting their duty.

The revelation that disgruntled detectives tried to undermine senior officers sent shock waves through the police and Scottish Executive.

Jim Wallace, the justice minister, was so concerned by Scotland on Sunday’s report he ordered his officials to make urgent inquiries.

A senior Lothian and Borders source said it now appeared the conspirators were “bullet-proof” and added: “We know who they are and they are still doing their normal jobs . It seems extremely likely that they will not face any action at all.

All they have to say is they believed Wood and Brown were up to no good and they took steps to investigate.

“We know Wood and Brown are not in any way corrupt but that does not matter – the guys involved can claim they had the suspicion.”

Another source said tensions would continue to run high within the force for months, if not years. ” It’s like having poison in the system and having no way of getting it out,” said the source.

The saga centres on Wood, who was accused by a serving detective of halting an investigation into a known criminal because he was a boyhood friend.

The claims have been investigated by Fife chief constable John Hamilton and a report passed to the procurator fiscal at Dundee. It is understood Wood will be cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.

Scotland on Sunday revealed that the allegations against Wood were the culmination of a long-running feud between a small number of CID staff and their senior officers.

The simmering row began with the Fettesgate scandal in 1992, in which the force headquarters was broken into and a secret report on the influence of gays in the judiciary stolen.

Many CID heads rolled as a result of a deal struck with the intruder in return for handing back the report.

Hamilton’s report on the case was presented in private to Lothian and Borders Police board last Monday.

Lesley Hinds, the convenor of the board, said: “No one in the force knows what is in John Hamilton’s report, so speculating about the outcome helps no one.”

Wood was not available for comment.

 

The Sunday Times, December 17th, 2000
Marcello Mega, ‘Scottish QC faces child sexual abuse allegations’

ONE of Scotland’s leading QCs, Robert Henderson, is facing allegations of child sexual abuse dating back to the 1970s.

Henderson, 63, one of the most flamboyant and skilled practitioners at the Scottish bar, is the subject of a complaint to Lothian and Borders police. The complainant, now an adult woman, claims Henderson sexually abused her and a young boy when they were children.

The procurator fiscal’s office in Edinburgh has been notified, but the crown office will decide whether to prosecute. Crown counsel takes responsibility when allegations of criminal conduct relate to a “prominent” person.

Despite some controversies in his past, Henderson is revered by many of his fellow lawyers. Two years ago, a dinner to celebrate his 35th anniversary at the bar was attended by a number of senior judges. One of them, Lord Prosser, praised Henderson as one of the foremost advocates of his day.

Although a former Tory parliamentary candidate, Henderson is also close to Lord Hardie, the former Labour lord advocate who opted for a place on the bench just a few weeks before the start of the Lockerbie bombing trial. Hardie had been due to lead the prosecution case.

When Hardie stood as a candidate in the 1994 election for dean of the faculty of advocates, Henderson helped organise his campaign. When Hardie became lord advocate in 1997, Henderson made a speech at a dinner to mark his friend’s investiture to the House of Lords.

Last year, Henderson was involved in two embarrassing incidents. He was convicted for not paying a VAT bill levied by Customs and Excise, which moved to have him sequestrated for a sum of about Pounds 1,700. He admitted the offence and was fined Pounds 3,000 at Edinburgh sheriff court.

He was also asked for an explanation by the current dean, Nigel Emslie QC, over his failure to pay a cheque through faculty services, the support company that employs advocates’ clerks and runs the advocates’ library. Henderson had paid the cheque straight into his own account, bypassing the normal deduction, of about 15%, made by faculty services.

Henderson responded by resigning from faculty services, becoming only the second of Scotland’s 400-plus advocates to forego its support. He also informed friends he was moving towards semi-retirement.

Regarded as the country’s leading defence lawyer until the early nineties, he still makes occasional appearances in the criminal and appeal courts. However, his principal work in recent months has been in the Middle East where he is understood to have been representing the interests of a Scottish firm.

Henderson became an advocate in 1963 and took silk in 1982. As well as developing a successful practice, he dabbled in Edinburgh’s property market, buying and selling houses. He was involved with two property companies, both dissolved in the 1980s.

Despite buying property in many of Edinburgh’s foremost streets, including Heriot Row, Moray Place and Mansionhouse Road, his property dealings were not as sharp as his legal brain. In 1988, the National Westminster Bank was granted a decree against him for a debt in excess of Pounds 160,000. A number of properties he owned were repossessed by finance companies. In 1985, Henderson bought his home, the Old Schoolhouse at Gullane, for Pounds 65,777 from the former Lothian Regional Council. He still lives there, but property records show he sold it in 1990 for Pounds 140,000.

He is best known for his part in the “Magic Circle” affair, which shook the legal establishment almost a decade ago. A number of criminal cases in which prominent homosexuals were acquitted led to allegations that a “gay mafia” at the heart of judiciary had conspired to pervert the course of justice.

Henderson fuelled the rumours by alluding to a list he claimed was in his possession of senior gay lawyers. The list was alleged to have belonged to a client of Henderson’s.

A report into the affair, conducted by William Nimmo Smith QC, who is now a judge, condemned Henderson for the part he played, which included breaching his client’s confidentiality. Henderson was disciplined by the dean of the day, Allan Johnston QC, who is also on the bench, and fined the record sum of Pounds 10,000, later reduced to Pounds 5,000.

Henderson is renowned for his ability to enjoy himself. He plays golf at the elite Muirfield club, also patronised by a number of judges.

 

The Scotsman, December 18th, 2000
‘Lawyer faces sex claims’

POLICE confirmed yesterday that one of Scotland’s most prominent lawyers is at the centre of a child sex claim being investigated by detectives.

A woman has alleged she was abused as a child by Robert Henderson QC. She said a young boy had also been abused.

Mr Henderson, 63, who has been married twice and has four children, has a reputation as a skilled and flamboyant defence lawyer.

Last night, a police spokesman said: “We have received information and are currently looking at it.”

Mr Henderson, who lives in Gullane, East Lothian, , was unavailable for comment.

 

The Express, December 18th, 2000
‘Leading QC faces sex abuse allegation’

ONE of Scotland’s most colourful QCs is at the centre of sexual abuse claims stretching back almost 30 years.

A woman has told police that as a girl in the 1970s she was molested by Robert Henderson.

She also claims a boy suffered abuse.

Mr Henderson, 63, of Gullane, East Lothian, could not be contacted last night.

But a police spokesman said: “We have received information which we are looking at.”

A spokesman for the Crown Office and the Procurator Fiscal’s office in Edinburgh said: “It is a police matter at this stage.”

Mr Henderson is often chosen to defend colleagues who fall on the wrong side of the law. He represented lawyer James McIntyre, who admitted unlawful possession of guns in 1997, and flamboyant QC Raymond Fraser when he admitted stealing a hat and cravat from Jenners in Edinburgh.

But his own career has not been without its low points, culminating in a court appearance last year for non-payment of VAT. He was fined GBP 3,000 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

He was also fined the maximum GBP 10,000 by a Faculty of Advocates disciplinary tribunal in 1993 over breach of confidentiality during the so-called Magic Circle affair, which investigated claims that a clique of gay lawyers was wielding undue influence over High Court judges. The fine was later halved because of the QC’s previously unblemished character.

Henderson’s personal life has been equally colourful, featuring two failed marriages. He now lives with his third wife, Carolyn Gell, whom he married in 1995.

 

Evening News (Edinburgh), December 18th, 2000
‘Leading QC investigated over child sex abuse claims’

ONE of Scotland’s best-known defence lawyers is being investigated over claims he sexually abused two children in the 1970s.

Robert Henderson QC is understood to have been accused by one of the alleged victims, who said she and a young boy were abused during their childhood.

The procurator fiscal’s office in Edinburgh has been notified of the complaint against the 63-year-old, who lives in Gullane, East Lothian. However the Crown Office will decide whether to prosecute.

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said today: “We have received information which we are looking at.”

Robert Henderson was regarded as Scotland’s leading defence lawyer until the early 90s, but has since reduced his workload. He has a high reputation among colleagues despite some previous controversies.

Last year he was fined pounds 3000 for failing to make a VAT payment.

Six years ago he was taken to court by a woman in a bid to force him to pay maintenance for his “love child”.

Known as “R.E.” to his friends, he is close to Lord Hardie, the former Labour Lord Advocate.

 

Daily Mail, December 18th, 2000
‘Child abuse claim against QC’

ONE of Scotland’s top lawyers is under investigation following allegations of child sex abuse.

Lothian and Borders Police have launched the probe following claims that Robert Henderson, QC, abused two children in the Seventies.

The claims have been made by one of the alleged victims. The woman, who has not been named, alleged that she and a young boy were abused by Mr Henderson during their childhood. A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: ‘We have received information which we are looking at.’ He would not confirm the exact nature of the allegations against Mr Henderson.

The procurator fiscal’s office in Edinburgh has been notified of the complaint. Any decision to prosecute Mr Henderson, 63, will be taken by the Crown Office.

 

Daily Record, March 15th, 2005
‘Crime Capital: Paul Ferris fixed it for the gay burglar who raided Police HQ: Fettesgate’

THE cops were in big trouble.Their HQ at Fettes had been burgled.

Worse, the thief had taken highly sensitive files and documents. How were they going to face the public?

They decided to try to tough it out. Fat chance. The burglar, Derek Donaldson, was seeking advice from someone who was no friend to the cops.

Donaldson was a conman and gay – a bad combination since his crimes got him into jail where he was confronted with would-be gay-bashers.

In Shotts Prison, he was getting a hell of a time before fellow inmate Paul Ferris, former lieutenant of Glasgow Godfather Arthur Thompson, stepped in to stop the bullies.

Now, out of the blue in 1992, Donaldson contacted Ferris. He needed advice about some files.

He told Ferris: ‘I just brought some of the stuff, Paul. I think I’m in big trouble.’

Ferris scanned the material file by file. There were intimate details about a range of judges who sat in courts in and around Edinburgh.

It seemed some of these judges were gay and had been followed by cops when they went to gay parties.

Another file, named Operation Ulysses, targeted IRA supporters in Scotland and lawyers were named as having donated funds.

There were surveillance records of known UDA supporters and photographs of them visiting Belfast and being in the company of top UDA men.

Derek Donaldson was sitting on a goldmine or his death certificate – it depended on how he played it.

‘How the hell did you get this stuff?’ Ferris asked.Donaldson explained he’d had a long-term affair with a high- ranking married cop in Edinburgh.

The cop’s wife had found out and he’d broken off with Donaldson.

In a jealous rage, the forlorn lover had decided to break into the police HQ at Fettes to teach him a lesson. But he had stumbled on to high-risk material and now he was in big trouble.

‘Copy the lot,’ said Ferris. ‘Offer it out to the top people in Edinburgh. That’s point one.

‘Point two is lose the papers. Keep them secure as a bit of insurance but have sod all in your possession.

‘Point three is go to the media.

Mention the gay judges thing but f ** k all about the IRA and UDA supporters.

That’s too sensitive.

‘One way or another, the cops are going to find you.

‘You don’t want anything nasty going down. The best way is to speak out.’

Donaldson followed Ferris’s advice. All the major players in Edinburgh have photocopies of some or all of the files.

They paid well and it was worth every penny in getting certain cops off their backs.

Many have never been to jail since.

 

The Scotsman, February 24th, 2009
Alan McEwen, ‘Fettesgate: ‘Magic Circle’ spells panic in the police’

IT started out as whispers between lawyers over boozy lunches and mutterings of discontent in police canteens.

A group of gay judges and lawyers were conspiring to ensure soft treatment for homosexual criminals, or so went the rumour that spread through Edinburgh legal circles in the late 1980s.

The talk was of a “magic circle” reaching the highest levels of the Scottish legal system and the potential blackmail of judges by “rent boys”.

The gossip grew on the back of police frustration at the outcome of a series of fraud and other cases, where officers felt that defendants who happened to be gay had been unusually leniently treated.

It would all no doubt have died a quiet death if it were not for the bizarre events which took place one Sunday night at the police headquarters at Fettes.

At around midnight on July 19, 1992, an intruder slipped in through an open window – which was apparently left unlatched by detectives who used it as a shortcut to the car park – and made his way to the offices of the Serious Crime Squad.

Daubing Animal Liberation Front slogans on the walls as a smokescreen, he spent two hours searching the offices, including that of Deputy Commander Jimmy Smith, before making off with a haul of confidential files.

Among the two holdalls full of missing documents were ones listing details of police informants, Loyalist sympathisers and Animal Liberation Front activists, but there was one particular police report which would cause huge embarrassment to the force.

It examined the alleged existence of the so-called “magic circle” within the highest echelons of the Scottish judiciary.

Written by a respected senior detective, Detective Inspector Roger Orr, it concluded there was evidence to support claims that justice was being seriously subverted by “a well-established circle of homosexuals”, including judges, sheriffs and lawyers. Significantly, the report named names.

The police dossier listed five court cases where the outcome caused concern among officers and lawyers and concluded that “homosexuality may well have been used as a means to seriously interfere with the administration of justice”.

Now there was panic at police headquarters. The possibilities – including a potential goldmine for blackmailers and the undermining of public faith in the judicial system – did not bear thinking about.

Derek Donaldson, 32, a convicted fraudster and valued police informant, was quickly identified as the prime suspect.

Frantic efforts were made to recover the documents – attempts that would lead to the downfall of some of Lothian’s top detectives. One former senior detective, who was serving on the force at the time, recalls: “This was a perfect example of a storm in a teacup. You had a very dangerous and Machiavellian informant who had been allowed to gain a position of influence and power because he was good at what he did. But he was a double-dyed manipulator.

“Then we had some very ill-advised junior detectives who had allowed themselves to be convinced that there was some sort of conspiracy. But they failed to follow the evidence.

“Whether there was any conspiracy, I can’t answer. What I can answer is that there was no evidence of it.”

Two detectives, Det Chief Supt William Hiddleston and Det Sgt Peter Brown, eventually promised Donaldson immunity from prosecution as long as the documents were returned.

Within weeks, the files had been dumped at the council tip off Dalkeith Road and police informed, but detectives naturally suspected the most sensitive documents had been copied.

The deal did not prove popular with the high command, however, who were anxious to see an arrest to act as a deterrent. When he heard of it, Chief Constable Sir William Sutherland immediately vetoed the immunity arrangement.

The force was under immense scrutiny. The internal report and its controversial initial conclusion was leaked to the Evening News, sparking a national sensation.

The Crown Office appointed a highly-regarded QC, William Nimmo Smith, and a regional procurator fiscal, James Friel, to investigate.

But the affair, dubbed “Fettesgate”, was about to take another twist.

Before the report was officially published, Nimmo Smith was duped into revealing his findings to a bogus journalist. The “journalist” was none other than Derek Donaldson, who immediately sold his “scoop” to a tabloid newspaper, indicating that the report had found no evidence of a homosexual conspiracy.

Days later, Nimmo Smith was admitted to hospital with nervous exhaustion. Donaldson was later jailed for assaulting a real journalist who had continued to investigate the events.

When Nimmo Smith’s report was finally published in January 1993, it dismissed the idea of a “magic circle” of gay lawyers.

The 101-page report concluded there was no evidence to support the idea of a conspiracy to undermine justice, but strongly criticised a number of police officers.

Some had been “prepared to give as much credence to rumour as to actual evidence and to believe in conspiracy theories whether or not supported by evidence”, it said.

Other officers, it suggested, had been motivated by homophobia.

William Hiddleston announced his retirement just hours after the chief constable had admitted a small group of detectives “may have let the side down”. Several other officers connected were moved to uniformed duties.

MP’s enquiry that sparked dramatic chain of events

FORMER long-serving Linlithgow MP Tam Dalyell played a crucial role in bringing the “magic circle” controversy into the public domain.

The stolen police report which sparked the scandal was prepared in response to a letter the MP wrote to then Lothian and Borders Chief Constable Sir William Sutherland.

Mr Dalyell had raised what he believed to be genuine public concern about a series of Crown Office decisions on cases investigated by the force.

Sir William took these concerns very seriously and, after discussions with his deputy, Hector Clark, decided to have a secret report drawn up by a senior officer.

Today, Mr Dalyell looks back on the furore as something which had positive effects on the force.

Lothian and Borders Police established formal links with a series of gay community groups for the first time in its history in the wake of the controversy.

Mr Dalyell said: “In the years following the so-called ‘Fettesgate’ scandal, Lothian and Borders Police did make an effort to learn some of the lessons from the inquiry.

“It was a very awkward situation for some of the officers involved. I know that William Sutherland took it very seriously.

“But, from that, the police did try and make things better.”

In recent years, the force has won widespread praise for its work building relations with the city’s gay community. The rainbow flag of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community was flown above the Fettes HQ last year.


The Scotsman, December 12th, 2012
Martin Hannan, ‘Obituary: Robert Ewart Henderson, QC, advocate’

Born: 29 March, 1937, in Glasgow. Died: 9 December, 2012, in France, aged 75.

The death after a short illness of Robert Henderson QC, always known to his friends as Bob, has saddened the Scottish legal profession which has lost one of the most brilliant advocates of recent decades.

Charismatic and eloquent, Henderson was so renowned for the quality of his advocacy that other lawyers would often slip into his court to observe the master at work. Whether addressing a jury or debating a legal point, Henderson’s forensic mind and compelling fluency of speech made him a court performer of the very highest calibre.

An accomplished golfer and pianist, and a bon viveur of note, Henderson’s colourful personality and occasional transgressions meant that he never attained the very highest honours of his profession, but he himself always said that he was happiest in court and that he wanted to be remembered as a fearless advocate, which he undoubtedly was.

Born to William Ewart Henderson, an accountant of Orcadian extraction, and Agnes née Ker, Henderson was educated at Larchfield School in Helensburgh and Morrison’s Academy in Crieff. His national service was in the Royal Artillery, where he reached the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.

Attending Glasgow University, he was one of a golden generation of lawyers and politicians that included Menzies Campbell, Donald Dewar, Lord Derry Irvine and John Smith. That he became president of the University Law Society in 1961-62 says much about the esteem in which he was held, even among such notable contemporaries.

In 1963, Henderson was called to the Bar and at the very outset of his career, he was involved in a piece of Scottish history that he did not seek. In later years he would often tell of his first case in the High Court in which he was junior to advocate depute Bertie Grieve, later Lord Grieve, who died in 2005. It was perhaps from that gentleman that Henderson learned the importance of the excellent manners and immaculate attire which were his trademarks. The case was that of Henry John Burnett and was held in Aberdeen. It was indeed historic, as Harry Burnett became the last man in Scotland to be hanged for murder. The jury decided that Burnett was “bad, not mad”, as Henderson put it. Despite psychiatrists stating that Burnett had a personality disorder, the Secretary of State Michael Noble refused to commute the sentence, and 21-year-old Burnett was hanged on 15 August, 1963.

Henderson would figure in many more criminal trials, and his reputation as an advocate, particularly for the defence, grew apace, especially after he took Silk in 1982.

Prior to that he had briefly served as Sheriff Substitute in Stirling, Dumbarton and Clackmannan, and as a Temporary Sheriff in 1978.

He was also standing junior counsel to the Department of Trade for many years and a member of various tribunals, and in 1974, the year of two elections, he twice stood as the Conservative candidate in the Inverness-shire seat held by Russell Johnston.

Despite that foray into Tory politics, he enjoyed long friendships with people of different political beliefs. At the time of the miners’ strike in 1984, he defended a number of the strikers, which led to a clash with Lord Wheatley – the irony being that Wheatley was the son of the Red Clydeside Labour MP John, while Henderson was a committed Conservative who manfully battled against the state’s prosecution of workers.

His court cases varied from murder trials such as his defence of James Baigrie, who killed an Edinburgh barman in 1982, to his overturning of the conviction of William Crowe in 1989. In 1984, lawyer Len Murray assembled perhaps the most powerful team of advocates ever put together for a single case, namely the trial of four Rangers and Celtic players over incidents during an Old Firm match. Needless to say, Henderson was one of the star quartet.

He also acted over the years for newspapers and the BBC, while one of his greatest successes was the defence of gay solicitor Colin Tucker, acquitted of an embezzlement charge despite admitting that he had been involved in diverting funds.

The fallout from the Tucker case thrust Henderson into the limelight of public controversy in the early 1990s. The allegations of sexual misconduct among Edinburgh’s legal establishment became known as the Magic Circle scandal.

The supposed story of powerful people allegedly engaged in a homosexual ring which conspired to pervert the course of justice was explosive and hogged the headlines for months. With his known associations with journalists, Henderson undoubtedly helped to create those headlines, and he was fined £10,000, later reduced to £5,000, by the Faculty of Advocates for breach of confidentiality.

It is often forgotten that while Henderson was criticised in the official report by William Nimmo Smith QC and Glasgow’s procurator fiscal James Friel, he was entirely cleared of serious allegations of conspiracy and blackmail, and indeed was cleared of the original allegations of criminality in property dealings dating from the 1980s. It may be concluded that Henderson was himself the victim of gossip and innuendo.

It was perhaps not very wise of Henderson to involve himself in the buying and of selling properties in and around Edinburgh, a pursuit that probably emanated from his specialisation in land and planning law. He was also a noted expert on licensing issues. Henderson’s business acumen was not on a par with his skill in court, however, as evidenced by his conviction for non-payment of VAT in 1999.

A member of the New Club and of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, Henderson liked nothing better than a convivial round of golf at Muirfield not for from his home in Gullane.

His private life was also occasionally chaotic. He was married three times: to Olga Sunter from 1958 to 1978, by whom he had a son and two daughters; to Carol Black from 1982 to 1988, by whom he had a son; and to Carolyn Gell in 1995. He is survived by Carolyn and his children.

Henderson went into semi-retirement from 2001, before surprising his family and friends with a move to Dubai in 2004 where lucrative consultancy work gave him the wherewithal to establish a home in south-west France, where he delighted in entertaining old friends and colleagues from Scotland.

He was charming and witty to the end, and his passing leaves a huge hole in many lives, for he was a loyal and generous friend to many.

MARTIN HANNAN


The Herald
, December 13th, 2012
John McCluskey, ‘Robert Henderson QC’

Born: March 29, 1937; Died: December 9, 2012.

An appreciation

Bob Henderson QC was a unique spirit in the Scottish scene. I first encountered him 50 years ago in the two rooms known as The Juridical Library, an outpost of the Advocates Library on the corner of George Street and Charlotte Square, where the Faculty of Advocates provided a quiet haven where advocates could sit all night researching the law and preparing for the next forensic encounter.

But it wasn t all work. The couple who acted as caretakers used to bring us coffee and biscuits and we would break off for irreverent gossip. And I must confess that at half past nine some of us would sneak out to Scotts bar in Rose Street to seek fresh inspiration.

Bob frequently came to the Juridical Library when he was devilling to Ian Stewart, later Lord Allanbridge. He was immediately impressive as a powerful personality with a mind of his own and no undue sense of subservience towards the establishment. So he had no hesitation in joining in the chat and the mocking of our elders and betters.

Bob was already an accomplished golfer and pianist, and he was well read. He had the qualities that would enable him to succeed as an advocate in the highest courts. He was self confident, fluent with a commanding speaking voice and a capacity that marked his career at the Bar for going straight to the heart of the matter in language that was clear, unambiguous and positive.

From my later perspective as a judge, particularly when sitting with a jury, it was a joy when Bob walked into court and announced he was appearing as counsel for the defence: the lights seemed to shine a little brighter. You knew there were going to be very few dull moments. He had a gift for recognising that a good point could be made in one clear short question. So you quickly learned to listen: he was not going to repeat and elaborate till you were sick of hearing it. Juries appreciated this was a lawyer who was not going to waste their time, a lawyer who would not treat them like dummies who needed to be given repeated glimpses of the obvious. So they listened.

And judges did the same: they knew from experience that Bob s forensic motto might have been borrowed from television s Allo, Allo!: I shall say this only once. That, and his personal charm, gave him a popularity with his colleagues and with the Bench that stood him in good stead when, as happened occasionally, he blotted his copybook. Somehow Bob’s blots were made with rainbow-coloured ink and he emerged from various scrapes perhaps a little wiser but not in the least diminished in spirit. The strengths of his character more than compensated for the faults.

It was a sad day when Bob announced his fortune was to be sought elsewhere and he went off to Dubai to seek it. He found it. On his return, well timed to avoid the depression, he bought a lovely mansion house in south-eest France with delightful grounds. There he built a first-class tennis court, an excellent swimming pool and a cellar of well-chosen wines. He also turned the older buildings into first-class accommodation for visitors.

The first purpose was to welcome and entertain his and Carolyn s friends. Bob, though living away from Edinburgh for some years, kept in touch with all the news. He loved Edinburgh and he had many happy years in Gullane and playing golf at Muirfield: he missed it all but he kept his memories alive. I remember sitting with him until the wee sma hours, hearing his trenchant views about people, politics and events that he felt so strongly about. But, caustic or dismissive, he was free of malice.

His second purpose in developing his lovely French estate was to build a resort that could be easily managed and would provide some security for the years ahead. The tragedy is that those years were cut so suddenly and dramatically short.

Our thoughts go out to Carolyn. If the loss of Bob means so much to us, we can hardly imagine how empty these coming days must be for Carolyn; this is clear: we all, with Carolyn, continue to share and treasure the warmth and the excitement that Bob radiated so generously.


The Sun
, December 14th, 2012
‘Top QC dies at 75′

A LAWYER who was once one of the top QCs in Scotland has died, aged 75.

It is understood Robert Henderson passed away on Sunday in France, where he had lived for several years, following a short illness.

In 1993 Henderson was named in a report by William Nimmo Smith investigating claims of a gay conspiracy to block justice in Scotland.

He was accused of leaking information to cops. Friend Lord McCluskey, 83, led tributes to the dad-of-four. He said: “It was joy when Bob walked into court.”


The Scotsman
, December 14th, 2012
‘Obituary: Robert Henderson QC, 75′

ONE of the country’s leading advocates has died suddenly in France at the age of 75.

Robert Henderson QC, who built a towering reputation for his work in the Capital, died on Sunday after a short illness.

The Gullane-based advocate grew up in Kirkwall to parents William Ewart Henderson and Agnes née Ker, attending Larchfield School in Helensburgh and Morrison’s Academy in Crieff.

He was admitted to Glasgow University, studying alongside a golden generation of lawyers and politicians including Menzies Campbell, Donald Dewar and Lord Derry Irvine.

Despite the list of luminaries, Bob – as he was better known – was named president of the University Law Society in 1961.

He was inadvertently caught up in a slice of Scottish history in his first case at the High Court in 1963 as junior to advocate depute Bertie Grieve, when Henry John Burnett was sentenced to become the last man in Scotland to be hanged for murder.

Bob was an honorary sheriff substitute at Stirling, Dumbarton and Clackmannan in 1968 and served as counsel to the Department of Trade between 1974 and 1977.

That experience led him in 1974 to twice stand as the Conservative candidate in the Inverness-shire seat held by Russell Johnston.

The lawyer would build his reputation as a defence advocate in a series of high-profile criminal trials after becoming a QC in 1982.

Bob was also hand-picked amongst a star team of advocates assembled by lawyer Len Murray to represent four Rangers and Celtic players charged over incidents during an Old Firm match.

Some of his most notable work came when he defended a host of miners during the 1984 strike.

Bob also represented the BBC and a string of newspapers. His defence of gay solicitor Colin Tucker, who was acquitted of an embezzlement charge despite admitting to diverting funds, was one of his greatest professional successes.

A keen golfer, Bob was a member of the New Club and of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, often playing at Muirfield.

He entered semi-retirement in 2001 before moving to Dubai three years later. His consultancy work overseas allowed him to buy a home in south-west France.

Close friend and Judge Lord McCluskey said it was a tragedy that Bob’s life had been cut short. He added: “He loved Edinburgh and he had many happy years in Gullane and playing golf at Muirfield.

“I remember sitting until the wee small hours hearing his trenchant views about people, politics and events he felt so strongly about. But, caustic or dismissive, he was free of malice.”

Bob is survived by his third wife, Carolyn Gell – whom he married in 1995 – and four children.


The Herald
, May 17th, 2013
Brian Home, ‘Solicitor is jailed after trying to take drugs into prison’

A SOLICITOR whose 30-year legal career lay in tatters after he was caught trying to smuggle mobile phones and drugs into Edinburgh’s Saughton Prison was jailed for four years yesterday.

The final act of David Blair Wilson’s shame was played out at the High Court in Edinburgh when judge Lord Jones told him he had abused his position as a lawyer.

In an earlier trial CCTV footage showed plain clothes police blocking any attempt by Blair Wilson to drive away, then leading him away in handcuffs.

A search of his car uncovered the phones, diazepam tablets which may have been worth £2800 at inflated prison prices, cannabis resin with a prison value of £4000 and other contraband items.

Judge Lord Jones said: “The misuse of drugs in prison is a well-recognised problem to which you were intent on contributing.

“You knew that, as a solicitor visiting a client in prison, you were in a privileged position. You cynically abused the privilege you had been given and abused the trust placed in you.”

The smuggling attempt was a well-planned operation, the judge added. Blair Wilson, 55, of Dunfermline, insisted he did not know the suspect packages were there and blamed another man for any wrong-doing.

The lawyer enjoyed a brief notoriety more than 20 years ago when he helped clear a friend and fellow solicitor accused of embezzling more than £50,000 of clients’ money from his firm.

The trial of Colin Tucker sparked a break-in at the Fettes HQ of Lothian and Borders Police, a probe by a top QC.

Yesterday, defence advocate Susan Duff, asking for leniency, paid tribute to Blair Wilson as a solicitor.

She said: “He has had a long and successful career in the law, a career built on hard work and a deeply committed attitude of care for his clients. Blair Wilson was a man for whom nothing was too much trouble.”

Now, she said, he knew he would never work again in that profession.

On the day he was caught the solicitor had arranged to visit – in his professional capacity – Lee Brown, 35, who told the trial he was serving 18-and-a-half years.

CCTV footage showed Blair Wilson arriving at the Saughton jail carrying a bulging folder.

Prison officer Graham Robertson, 25, described how he checked Blair Wilson’s ID and his colleague told the solicitor his folder had to be scanned.

“He became quite anxious looking, began to sort of fidget. His body language changed slightly,” said the prison officer.Blair Wilson returned to his Vauxhall Signum then came back into the prison vestibule. This time his file was thinner.

In the witness box, Blair Wilson said the suspect packages were nothing to do with him.

He said Steven Douglas – a youth he had befriended who regarded him as a surrogate father – must have put them under the driver’s seat when he borrowed the car the day before. There were 19 fingerprints on the packages that matched those of Mr Douglas. Not one matched Blair Wilson’s prints.

Mr Douglas should have appeared as a witness – but, when asked where he was, Blair Wilson replied: “I wish I knew.”

A jury’s majority verdict convicted Blair Wilson of attempting to smuggle three mobile phones, three SIM cards along with two chargers and two earphones into the jail.

He was also found guilty, by majority, of being concerned in the supply of cannabis resin, diazepam and body-building drugs – in particular to Lee Brown.During the trial, charges of breaching the Prisons (Scotland) Act by introducing drugs into the jail were dropped.

Lord Jones said he was taking into account Blair Wilson was a first offender who also suffered from serious health problems.

“While I take these matters into consideration, it has to be recognised that you chose to commit these offences and did this with your eyes open, knowing what the risks were and the consequences if you were caught.”

Blair Wilson also faces automatic prosecution before the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal.

Philip Yelland, director of Regulation at the Law Society of Scotland, said: “Solicitors are expected to maintain the highest standards both in their professional and personal lives.

“They are bound by rules including rules about their conduct, and serious criminal convictions are a breach of these rules.”

The Scotsman, July 13th, 2014
‘Sir Nicholas Fairbairn in child abuse scandal link’

SIR Nicholas Fairbairn, the controversial former Solicitor General for Scotland, has been linked to the child abuse scandal which is threatening to engulf Westminster.

Evidence has emerged which suggests Fairbairn, who died in 1995 aged 61, may have visited a brothel now at the heart of police and parliamentary investigations.

A list of names seized by officers indicates the former legal adviser to Margaret Thatcher may have abused boys at a notorious London guesthouse, where youngsters from children’s homes were reportedly sexually assaulted by high-profile visitors.

The documents have been seen by child protection officers and are now being used by police as evidence as part of Operation Fernbridge.

The apparent link has prompted calls for the long-serving Conservative MP to be posthumously investigated.

Fairbairn – who boasted about his “insatiable” sexual appetite – had a career which took him to the top of both the political and legal establishments but gained notoriety as a womaniser and heavy drinker.

Lists of visitors to the Elm Guest House – which hosted parties in the 1980s where vulnerable boys were sexually assaulted after being plied with alcohol – are now in the hands of police officers.

The hand-written documents, which have been seen by Scotland on Sunday, state that a number of politicians including “N Fairburn” and “C Smith” – who asked to be called “Tubby” – visited the property on 7 June 1982.

They also state that “Fairburn” had “used boys in sauna” and that photographs had been taken of him – as well as Cyril Smith – at the guest house. Police have confirmed that Smith, the late Liberal MP for Rochdale, who has since been exposed as a serial abuser of boys, was a regular visitor to the brothel. Despite the spelling discrepancy over Fairburn/Fairbairn, there have now been calls for a full investigation which would establish whether or not Fairbairn was involved.

Pete Wishart, the SNP MP, who represents Fairbairn’s former constituency of Perth, called for the allegations to be fully examined. He said: “If there is any evidence that Sir Nicholas Fairbairn was involved in the abuse of children it should be looked at and properly investigated.”

Simon Danczuk, the Rochdale MP who exposed Smith as a child abuser, said the documents must be investigated.

A spokesman for the Labour politician said: “The Metropolitan Police have confirmed Cyril Smith was at Elm Guest House and it is now important to investigate and establish exactly who else was there.”

In 2000 the daughter of a prominent Scottish lawyer, who was never publicly named, alleged Fairbairn was part of a paedophile ring. At the time the claims were angrily rejected by his family. Last night Sir Nicholas’ eldest daughter Charlotte told Scotland on Sunday: “There’s nothing I can say. He’s been dead for 20 years.”


Daily Record and Sunday Mail
, July 14th, 2014
Dan Warburton, ‘THE ACCUSED; SEX ALLEGATIONS CALLS FOR CRIMINAL PROBES AS MORE ATTACK CLAIMS EMERGE SEX ALLEGATIONS CALLS FOR CRIMINAL PROBES AS MORE ATTACK CLAIMS EMERGE ; Thatcher’s top two Scots Tories in 80s at centre of Westminster child abuse claims Whistleblower claims Dr Smith arranged young boys for senior cabinet ministers Fairbairn linked to brothel where kids from homes were abused by high-profile visitors’

THE two top Scots Tories from Margaret Thatcher’s Government were last night linked to an alleged child abuse ring.

Former Kinross and Western Perthshire MP Sir Nicholas Fairbairn and former party Scottish chairman Dr Alistair Smith were named as suspects in the historic abuse of underage boys.

Last night, Labour justice spokesman Graeme Pearson said a public inquiry “cannot afford to leave any stone unturned and it must have the confidence of the victims”.

Senior officials in Thatcher’s Government were alleged to have attended private sex parties with underage boys and visited a notorious guesthouse.

A special police unit from 13 forces are thought to have drawn-up a “superlist” of celebrities and elected officials under investigation.

Pearson added: “The Scottish Goverment cannot stand back from this. We know victims have been calling for action here in Scotland and so far we are the only part of the UK not holding any investigations.

“With Scottish names now emerging as part of the UK investigation, we cannot “With Scottish names now emerging as part of the UK investigation, we cannot afford to be left behind.”

FAIRBAIRN – the former Solicitor General for Scotland who died in 1995, aged 61 – may have visited a brothel at the heart of police Evidence suggests Fairbairn – the former Solicitor General for Scotland who died in 1995, aged 61 – may have visited a brothel at the heart of police and parliamentary probes.

It’s understood Thatcher’s legal advisor visited the notorious Elms Guest House, where youngsters from children’s homes were allegedly abused by high-It’s understood Thatcher’s legal advisor visited the notorious Elms Guest House, where youngsters from children’s homes were allegedly abused by highprofile visitors in the 80s.

Documents seized by officers are now being used as evidence in Operation Fernbridge, a criminal probe into parties held at the site in Documents seized by officers are now being used as evidence in Operation Fernbridge, a criminal probe into parties held at the site in Rocks Lane, south-west London.

Rocks Lane, south-west London.

In 2000, Fairbairn’s family were forced to reject allegations that the flamboyant advocate was part of a paedophile ring of top Scots lawyers.

Yesterday, Fairbairn’s eldest daughter Charlotte is reported to have said: “There’s nothing I can say. He’s been dead for 20 years.”

Meanwhile, whistleblower Anthony Gilberthorpe – a former Conservative activist – claimed Dr Smith, who died in July 2012, had arranged for rent boys to have sex with Cabinet members.

Anthony, 52, said he was used to procure boys as young as 15, who indulged in alcohol and cocaine before having sex with politicians at party conferences in Black-Black pool and Brighton in the 80s.

He said: “Dr Smith, who I looked up to at the time and was the most important Tory in Scotland, told me to go and fetch some ‘entertainment’, which was ‘entertainment’, which was code for young boys.

“It was the norm and an open secret that these older members of the Tory Party, like Dr Alistair Smith, paid for young men to join them at sex parties.

“It was the first time I was asked to fetch them but it was hardly surprising as I was becoming one of their trusted people. I was expected to find the youngest and prettiest young boys. It was what those men wanted.

“In fact, it was all they wanted. So myself and another Tory candidate sat on some benches underneath an archway in the Pavilion area of Blackpool and waited.”

David Mellor, who was a Home Office minister between 1983 and 1987, dismissed Anthony’s allegations as “tittle-tattle”.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “I think this is now open season because of a pretty dodgy dossier presented to Leon Brittan by a Tory backbencher, which had very little substance in my view.”

Officers investigating historic child abuse from 13 constabularies held a meeting in Merseyside last month. It’s understood each brought a secret list of elected officials and celebrities currently under investigation for alleged child sex abuse. A “superlist” of 21 of the best-known suspects was drawn-up, with half of those listed yet to enter the public domain.

A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “Police should investigate all allegations of this nature and the perpetrators should be brought to justice.”

When the Daily Record made attempts to contact Dr Smith’s family there was no response.

David Cameron faced further problems yesterday after he was accused by one of his own MPs of turning a blind eye to possible abuse by Government whips.

Mark Reckless, a member of the Commons home affairs select committee, said the PM should order all former chief whips to reveal what they knew about child sex offence allegations. In a letter to Cameron, he called for a full public enquiry.

GRAPHIC: TRUST Thatcher made Fairburn and Smith senior officials

THE two top Scots Tories from Margaret Thatcher’s ­Government were last night linked to an alleged child abuse ring.

Former Kinross and Western ­Perthshire MP Sir Nicholas Fairbairn and former party Scottish chairman Dr Alistair Smith were named as suspects in the historic abuse of underage boys.

Last night, Labour justice spokesman Graeme Pearson said a public inquiry “cannot afford to leave any stone unturned and it must have the confidence of the victims”.

Senior officials in Thatcher’s Government were alleged to have attended private sex parties with underage boys and visited a notorious guesthouse.

A special police unit from 13 forces are thought to have drawn-up a “superlist” of celebrities and elected officials under investigation.

Pearson added: “The Scottish Goverment cannot stand back from this. We know victims have been calling for action here in ­Scotland and so far we are the only part of the UK not holding any ­investigations.

“With Scottish names now emerging as part of the UK investigation, we cannot afford to be left behind.”

Evidence suggests ­Fairbairn – the former Solicitor General for Scotland who died in 1995, aged 61 – may have visited a brothel at the heart of police and parliamentary probes.

It’s understood Thatcher’s legal advisor visited the ­notorious Elms Guest House, where youngsters from ­children’s homes were ­allegedly abused by high-profile visitors in the 80s.

Documents seized by officers are now being used as evidence in Operation ­Fernbridge, a criminal probe into parties held at the site in Rocks Lane, south-west London.

In 2000, Fairbairn’s family were forced to reject allegations that the flamboyant advocate was part of a paedophile ring of top Scots lawyers.

Yesterday, Fairbairn’s eldest daughter Charlotte is reported to have said: “There’s nothing I can say. He’s been dead for 20 years.”

Meanwhile, whistleblower Anthony Gilberthorpe- a former Conservative activist – claimed Dr Smith, who died in July 2012, had arranged for rent boys to have sex with Cabinet members.

Anthony, 52, said he was used to procure boys as young as 15, who indulged in alcohol and cocaine before having sex with politicians at party ­conferences in Blackpool and Brighton in the 80s.

He said: “Dr Smith, who I looked up to at the time and was the most ­important Tory in Scotland, told me to go and fetch some ‘­entertainment’, which was code for young boys.

“It was the norm and an open secret that these older members of the Tory Party, like Dr Alistair Smith, paid for young men to join them at sex parties.

“It was the first time I was asked to fetch them but it was hardly surprising as I was becoming one of their trusted people. I was expected to find the youngest and prettiest young boys. It was what those men wanted.

“In fact, it was all they wanted. So myself and another Tory ­candidate sat on some benches underneath an archway in the Pavilion area of ­Blackpool and waited.”

David Mellor, who was a Home Office minister between 1983 and 1987, dismissed Anthony’s ­allegations as “tittle-tattle”.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “I think this is now open season because of a pretty dodgy dossier presented to Leon Brittan by a Tory backbencher, which had very little substance in my view.”

Officers investigating historic child abuse from 13 ­constabularies held a meeting in Merseyside last month. It’s understood each brought a secret list of elected officials and celebrities currently under investigation for alleged child sex abuse.

A “superlist” of 21 of the best-known suspects was drawn-up, with half of those listed yet to enter the public domain.

A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “Police should investigate all allegations of this nature and the perpetrators should be brought to justice.”

When the Daily Record made attempts to contact Dr Smith’s family there was no response.

David Cameron faced further ­problems yesterday after he was accused by one of his own MPs of turning a blind eye to possible abuse by Government whips.

Mark Reckless, a member of the Commons home affairs select committee, said the PM should order all former chief whips to reveal what they knew about child sex offence allegations. In a letter to Cameron, he called for a full public enquiry.

He added: “Given the mass ­shredding of documents by the whips office from 1996, will you write to all Conservative Chief Whips who have held office since 1960 or their heirs where deceased and ask them to provide all documents which remain in their possession from their time in office to the Child Abuse Inquiry?”

Reckless also called on him to look into whether former Attorney General Michael Havers – whose sister Lady Bulter-Sloss is heading the inquiry into child sex abuse claims – was behind the decision to destroy papers.


Mail on Sunday
, July 20th, 2014
Marc Horne, ‘Esther Rantzen: My shock over my MP lover’s links to Elm House paedophile ring’

  • Esther Rantzen had affair with politician Sir Nicholas Fairbairn in the 1960s
  • Suggestions he may have visited guest house where children were allegedly assaulted by high-profile visitors
  • Ms Rantzen speaks of her revulsion over his links to child abuse scandal
  • She distances herself from the late Conservative MP who died at 61 in 1995

Esther Rantzen has spoken of her revulsion after learning that a former lover has been linked to the child abuse scandal threatening to engulf Westminster.

The broadcaster and Childline founder had an affair with politician Sir Nicholas Fairbairn after they met at a BBC studio in 1966.

But Ms Rantzen has now distanced herself from the late Conservative MP and Solicitor General for Scotland – who died in 1995, aged 61.

Evidence has come to light suggesting he may have visited a London guest house where children from care homes were allegedly assaulted by high-profile visitors.

Miss Rantzen, 74, played a leading role in uncovering child abuse during the 1980s.

She said: ‘I am horrified and disgusted by these allegations because Nicky was a friend of mine.

‘I had a very brief relationship with him. I always assumed that he was attracted to adult women rather than children.

‘I had absolutely no knowledge of that side of him. However, over the years I have learned that you really never know anyone.’

The former That’s Life presenter was 26 when she embarked on an affair with the married MP after he appeared as a guest on a BBC show where she was a researcher.

She said: ‘When I knew Nicky he was courteous, charming and very fond of women.

‘He was a high-profile lawyer, who lived in a castle and had a very flamboyant private life.’

‘He took me to lunch at the Ritz. He gave me a long-stemmed red rose and ordered Beluga caviar and Krug champagne.

‘If ever there was an aphrodisiac meal that was it. Nicky took to me to some Lord’s house where he was staying and the rest was inevitable.’

The presenter, who founded the world’s first child abuse hotline, Childline, in 1986, was appalled by the emergence of evidence which suggests that a powerful network of paedophiles may once have stalked the corridors of power.

She said: ‘It is really important that the people who have suffered now recognise that they do have a right to justice. It is not about the culture of the time.

‘Child abuse has always been a crime and, in my experience, there was never a time when it was tolerated. What happened with Cyril Smith was horrific. The whole thing was hushed up and police were taken off cases and prevented from going public with what they knew.

‘It was straightforward, old-fashioned conspiracy.’

Lists of VIP visitors to the Elm Guest House – which hosted parties in the 1980s where vulnerable boys were sexually assaulted after being plied with alcohol – are now being used by police as evidence in their Operation Fernbridge inquiry.

The documents, seen by the Mail on Sunday, state that politicians including ‘N Fairburn’ and ‘C Smith’ visited the property on June 7, 1982. They also state that ‘Fairburn’ had ‘used boys in sauna’ and that photos had been taken of him – as well as Cyril Smith – at the guest house.

Police have confirmed that Smith, the late Liberal MP for Rochdale, who has since been exposed as a serial abuser, was a regular visitor to the address.

Despite the spelling discrepancy there have now been calls for a full investigation which would establish whether Fairbairn was involved.

Sir Nicholas, who carried a brace of pistols on his hip and designed his own flamboyant tartan attire, was forced to resign as Solicitor General in 1982 over a decision not to prosecute in a rape case.

RESIGNATION HURTS, SAYS BARONESS BUTLER-SLOSS

By Martin Delgado

Baroness Butler-Sloss, chosen to chair the inquiry into historic child abuse, has spoken of her ‘hurt’ at having to resign before she could even take up the role.

The resignation last week came after claims the retired judge’s late brother, Sir Michael Havers, who was Attorney-General and later Lord Chancellor, was involved in a cover-up.

‘I didn’t want to resign but I had to.

‘The victims didn’t have faith in me,’ she said. ‘Now all  I feel is hurt and sadness.

‘I discussed it with loved ones before making my decision, but nobody influenced or pushed me. It’s a pity.

‘Yes, it hurt me.’

The peer was speaking at London’s Piccadilly Theatre at the Jack Petchey Foundation’s Speak Out Challenge.

Peter Saunders, of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, said: ‘She seems to be drawing attention to her own self-pity. Many victims of abuse will find her remarks insensitive.’

The previous year a House of Commons secretary had tried to hang herself from a lamp-post outside his London flat after they had an affair.

In Who’s Who Sir Nicholas described his pastimes as: ‘Making love, ends meet and people laugh.’

In 2000 the daughter of a prominent Scottish lawyer, who was never  publicly named, alleged Sir Nicholas had been part of a paedophile ring. At the time the claims were angrily rejected by his family.

Sir Nicholas’ eldest daughter Charlotte declined to comment on the latest allegations, stating: ‘There’s nothing I can say. He’s been dead for 20 years.’


The Express
, July 21st, 2014
Greg Christison, ‘Esther’s horror at Fairbairn child sex allegations’

ESTHER Rantzen has said she is “horrified and disgusted” after her former lover Sir Nicholas Fairbairn was linked to the child abuse scandal at Westminster.

The allegations have been denied by Nicholas Fairbairn’s family[NC]

The broadcaster, who founded the Childline telephone service for children suffering abuse, had an affair with the late Conservative MP and Solicitor General for Scotland after they met at a BBC studio in 1966.

It has been claimed that Sir Nicholas, who died in 1995 aged 61, visited a London guest house where children from care homes were allegedly assaulted by high-profile visitors.

Ms Rantzen said: “I am horrified and disgusted by these allegations, because Nicky was a friend of mine.

“I had a very brief relationship with him. I always assumed that he was attracted to adult women rather than children.

“I had absolutely no knowledge of that side of him. However, over the years I have learned that you really never know anyone.”

The 74-year-old, who has played a leading role in uncovering child abuse, was 26 when she embarked on an affair with the married politician.

They met after he appeared as a guest on a BBC show where she was working as a researcher.

“When I knew Nicky he was courteous, charming and very fond of women,” she continued.

“He was a high-profile lawyer, who lived in a castle and had a very flamboyant private life.

“He took me to lunch at the Ritz. He gave me a long-stemmed red rose and ordered Beluga caviar and Krug champagne.

“If ever there was an aphrodisiac meal, that was it. Nicky took me to some Lord’s house where he was staying and the rest was inevitable.”

Esther Rantzen has been shocked upon of the alleged child abuse [REX]

It is understood evidence suggests Sir Nicholas was one of several politicians who visited Elm Guest House, which hosted parties in the 1980s where vulnerable boys were sexually assaulted after being plied with alcohol.

A VIP list of visitors suggests Sir Nicholas “used boys in the sauna” and that photos existed of him at the guest house.

Police are investigating the list, which also contains the name of the late Liberal MP Cyril Smith, as part of their Operation Fernbridge inquiry.

Sir Nicholas was forced to resign as Solicitor General in 1982 over a decision not to prosecute in a rape case. A year beforehand, a House of Commons secretary tried to hang herself from a lamppost outside his London flat after they had an affair.

In 2000, the daughter of a prominent Scottish lawyer, who was never publicly named, alleged Sir Nicholas had been part of a paedophile ring.

The claims were denied by his family.

Sir Nicholas’ eldest daughter, Charlotte, declined to comment on the latest allegations, stating: “There’s nothing I can say. He’s been dead for 20 years.”


Daily Mail
, August 14th, 2014
Emma Cowing and Graham Grant, ‘I was raped aged 4 by top aide to Thatcher: Woman claims she was abused by senior Conservative MP who visited notorious guest house with paedophile Cyril Smith’

  • Susie Henderson, 48, says she was raped by Sir Nicholas Fairbairn
  • Tory politician was solicitor general for Scotland, and Perth and Ross MP
  • MP died in 1995, aged 61, and was a favourite of Margaret Thatcher
  • Miss Henderson says she was abused by late father, a prominent QC
  • New evidence suggests Fairbairn visited Elm Guest House
  • Property is the focus of investigation into alleged paedophile ring in 1980s

A woman last night claimed she was raped at the age of four by a senior Tory MP who was one of Margaret Thatcher’s closest allies.

Susie Henderson waived her right to anonymity to describe the appalling abuse she alleges was inflicted on her by Sir Nicholas Fairbairn.

The late Conservative politician, who was appointed solicitor general for Scotland by Mrs Thatcher when she became prime minister, has been linked to the child abuse scandal threatening to engulf Westminster.

Last month evidence came to light which suggests Sir Nicholas may have visited the Elm Guest House which serial abuser Cyril Smith attended. The property in Barnes, south-west London, is the focus of a Scotland Yard investigation into an alleged Establishment paedophile ring in the 1980s.

The evidence emerged weeks after Home Secretary Theresa May announced a Hillsborough-style inquiry into claims of paedophile activities in Parliament and other public institutions.

Now, Miss Henderson, 48, has told the Mail that she was raped as a young child by Sir Nicholas – and that she also suffered years of sexual assaults by her late father, prominent Scottish QC Robert Henderson, who was a friend of the MP.

She said of Sir Nicholas: ‘I hated that man,’ adding: ‘More than I hated my father. He just really wasn’t a nice man.

‘I want it acknowledged that my father and Fairbairn did something very evil. Not just to me. There are other children out there.’ Miss Henderson first made her allegations against Sir Nicholas – famous for his outspoken views, frock-coat suits and tartan trousers – and her father under the alias of ‘Julie X’ in 2000 but an initial police investigation did not lead to any charges.

Sir Nicholas, flamboyant MP for Perth and Kinross, died in 1995, aged 61. Twice-married, he once described his pastimes as: ‘Making love, ends meet and  people laugh.’

The MP from 1974 to 1995 was a favourite of Mrs Thatcher because of his right-wing views and his noisily expressed adoration of her. He once claimed to enjoy a ‘special chemistry’ with the former Prime Minister and wrote in The Spectator magazine about her: ‘Sexually attractive, no, but certainly bonny.’ Miss Henderson, whose father died in 2012 aged 75, claims Sir Nicholas first abused her at one of her father’s parties at his Edinburgh home. She said: ‘We were in the kitchen. I was maybe four years old, I could have been younger.

‘I had a skirt on and Nicholas and my dad had been drinking, and my dad told me to sit on Nicholas’s knee. I sat on his knee and he put his hand up my skirt and abused me. My dad just stood there laughing.’

Recalling another incident, Miss Henderson, who lives near Inverness, claimed Sir Nicholas raped her when she was in bed with him and ‘another guy’ in a guest room on the top floor of her five-storey family home.

She says she was just four or five years old at the time, and remembers the pungent smell of his feet. Sobbing, she said she was not sure how many times Sir Nicholas abused her but says it was ‘a lot,’ adding: ‘Even once is too much.’ Last night Sir Nicholas’s daughter Charlotte, 50, told the Mail that while she ‘did not know’ whether her father had carried out the alleged abuse, she very much doubted it. She said: ‘I don’t really want to know anything about it, I would be very surprised by that [the claims made against her father], but he is dead. He’s not here to defend himself.

‘It would sound hollow if I said, “He’s innocent.” I don’t know, though I completely and utterly doubt it [that he was an abuser.] It’s all such a long time ago. I hope it’s not true.’

Lists of VIP visitors to the Elm Guest House – which hosted parties in the 1980s where it is alleged vulnerable boys were sexually assaulted – are now being used by police as evidence in their inquiry, Operation Fernbridge. One document states politicians including ‘N Fairburn’ and C Smith’ visited the property in June 1982.

They also state ‘Fairburn’ had ‘used boys in sauna’ and photos had been taken of him – as well as former Liberal MP Smith – at the guest house. Police have  confirmed that Smith was a  regular visitor to the address.

Last month broadcaster Esther Rantzen spoke of her revulsion after learning Sir Nicholas, with whom she had an affair after they met in a BBC studio in 1966, had been implicated in the scandal.

Miss Henderson, speaking  publicly after Sir Nicholas was linked to the guest house, said: ‘I knew this would come out.

‘I’m only surprised it has taken so long. I told the police about him in 2000, I told them what Fairbairn was. But they just wanted me to go away.

My father was feted by legal establishment, but was really a monster who let his powerful friends rape me

Every night before five-year-old Susie Henderson went to sleep, she would arrange her dolls around her bed. She wasn’t playing, she was hiding. Four decades on, it is a memory that still haunts her.

‘I put them there thinking that, when my father came for me in the night, he wouldn’t know it was me and he would take one of my dolls instead,’ she says. ‘But he never did.’

Now 48, Miss Henderson has spent a lifetime in hiding. For the past 14 years she has been known only as ‘Julie X’, the anonymous woman who in 2000 made allegations of child sexual abuse against her father – a senior member of the legal profession – and MP Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, the former Solicitor General for Scotland and a member of Margaret Thatcher’s inner circle.

Today, Miss Henderson has waived her anonymity to detail the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father, the late Robert Henderson QC, one of Scotland’s top advocates and a close friend and former colleague of Fairbairn. Henderson died in December 2012, Fairbairn in 1995.

In the wake of the paedophile scandal threatening to engulf Westminster in which Fairbairn was recently implicated, Miss Henderson has chosen to come forward to tell her story.

She is calling for the police investigation into Henderson and Fairbairn, which was halted in 2000 after details were leaked to the Press and evidence was mislaid, to be re-opened.

She has also given the Scottish Daily Mail the names of six other senior members of the Scottish legal profession who she alleges either abused her or were aware of the abuse, which took place in the 1970s. Two of these individuals are still alive.

Today Miss Henderson lives a quiet life near Inverness with her partner, who fully supports her decision to tell her story, saying: ‘Over the years, Susie has lived in fear – but once other stories about Fairbairn started to come out, we realised that she could finally do this without fear. She can get closure.’

Miss Henderson works in social care, has a grown-up son and at weekends walks her dog along the windswept beaches near her home. She is well-spoken and articulate, with a ready smile and a mischievous sense of humour.

Yet her life is still overshadowed by the monstrous actions of her father and his friends – a set of high-powered legal figures who, she says, ritually abused her as part of an organised paedophile ring in the early 1970s when she was between four and eight years old.

‘It’s really only in my 40s that I’ve started living my life,’ she says. ‘I have good days and I have bad days. It will never go away and I get horrendous nightmares at times but, because my father is dead now, I’m not as scared as I used to be.’

Miss Henderson was born in 1966 into a life of Edinburgh privilege. Her father and his first wife, her mother, lived in a five-storey Georgian townhouse in the New Town. Parties were common and Henderson, a rising star in the Scottish legal profession, was a flamboyant and charming man-about-town.

‘I have horrendous nightmares, it will never go away’

But behind closed doors he was a monster. He often beat his wife and young Susie was regularly belted: ‘He threw my Mum and me out in the snow one night when he brought a woman home.

‘He used to jump out of wardrobes to frighten people. He drank very heavily. There were always people round at the house and my Mum was just the slave.’

Henderson could be sadistically cruel towards his family. His daughter recalls: ‘One time he came home unexpectedly and I had my pet hamster out. I wasn’t allowed to have it out when he was there and I was terrified he’d go crazy. But he didn’t do anything, he just said: “Put that away.”‘

‘The next morning when I went downstairs, it was stuffed into a milk bottle. He’d killed it. That was my punishment for letting it out.’

Yet Henderson could also be urbane and charismatic. Well thought-of among the political establishment, he twice stood as a Tory candidate for Parliament during the 1970s in Inverness-shire.

‘He could be very charming, usually when drunk,’ says Miss Henderson. ‘I can’t remember him being a loving man but he could be quite nice. He wasn’t always horrendous.’

She believes her father started abusing her around the age of three and sexually abused her repeatedly until she was eight years old: ‘He would say to my Mum when he came back from the pub, “I’ll take Susie for a nap.” And that was when he’d do it. He always put a pillow over my head. Another time in the bath he abused me and put my head under the water.’

The house was often full of people, her father’s friends, who she says also abused her, or were fully aware of what was going on: ‘I was told that whatever anybody wanted I was to do it, no matter what it was.

‘My father had parties where I had to dance for people. He’d then put me in a bedroom. People came in. They had drugs there, lots of drink. My Dad used to give me drink.’

She clearly remembers the first time Fairbairn abused her at one of her father’s parties: ‘We were in the kitchen. I was maybe four years old. I had a skirt on and Nicholas and my Dad had been drinking, and my Dad told me to sit on Nicholas’s knee. I sat on his knee and he put his hand up my skirt and abused me. My Dad just stood there laughing.’

She remembers another incident involving Fairbairn: ‘The house was five floors and the top floor was where the guests used to stay. I was in bed in the guest room with  Fairbairn and another guy.’

She alleges that on this occasion Fairbairn raped her. She was just four or five years old. Today, she sobs quietly as she recalls the  incident and details such as the pungent smell of Fairbairn’s feet: ‘I hated that man – more than I hated my father. He just really wasn’t a nice man.’ She is not sure how many times Fairbairn abused her but says it was ‘a lot’, adding: ‘Even once is too much.’

Last month, Fairbairn was named as one of those believed to have  visited the notorious Elm Guest House in London. A handwritten list of visitors to the guest house – which hosted parties in the 1980s where vulnerable boys were sexually assaulted after being plied with alcohol – states that a number of politicians including ‘N Fairburn’ and ‘C Smith’ – visited the property on June 7, 1982.

‘C Smith’ is believed to be Cyril Smith, the Liberal MP who has been exposed as a serial paedophile and who police have confirmed was a regular visitor to the brothel.

The documents also state that ‘Fairburn’ had ‘used boys in sauna’ and that photographs had been taken of him at the guest house. Despite the spelling discrepancy over Fairbairn/Fairburn, there have now been calls for a full investigation to establish whether or not Fairbairn was involved. Miss Henderson says she is not surprised: ‘I knew this would come out. I’m only surprised it has taken so long. I told the police about him in 2000, I told them what Fairbairn was. But they just wanted me to go away.’

The regular abuse stopped when she was eight years old and her mother left Henderson, taking Miss Henderson with her. It continued sporadically until she was around 12, whenever Henderson had custody of her.

‘Occasionally I would go and stay at my father’s,’ she says. ‘We never went to the pictures or did anything normal as father and daughter.

‘There were parties and drink and drugs and people half-naked. I remember him taking me to a sauna one time. Another time, he took me to a judge’s house and left me there.’

Miss Henderson knows that parts of her story may sound unbelievable: ‘Who would believe that the solicitor general and other top lawyers would be abusing children? Especially back in the 1970s and early 1980s. Those kind of things weren’t talked about.’

She kept in touch with her father during her teenage years – a decision which might seem incomprehensible.

‘I always wanted his approval,’ she says quietly. ‘I always wanted him to love me. I had this vision of what I wanted him to be. All my friends had nice Dads.

‘And, as I said, he could be really, really charming. But when he was angry or drunk he was something totally different.’

Those questioning why Henderson was not brought to justice while he was alive may remember the Fettesgate scandal of the 1990s, when it was alleged that a magic circle of legal figures was conspiring to fix sentences. The case was eventually thrown out of court.

Miss Henderson says: ‘With the Fettesgate scandal, my father had a list of all the prominent people involved and he used to just laugh. He would say, “If I go down, they’ll all go down with me.”

‘He told me he could put me six feet under’

‘He had all this evidence. He showed me. He just thought it was all hysterical. He knew he would take the whole lot of them with him. That’s why it was all hush-hushed.’

And so it was that in 2000, having agreed to speak anonymously about her experiences to Sandra Brown, author of a book about child abuse called Where There is Evil, she found her story greeted with scepticism.

Senior Tories rallied to Fairbairn’s defence, describing her allegations as ‘absolute rubbish’.

Fairbairn’s daughter Charlotte dismissed the claims. Henderson, by then retired but still a prominent member of the legal establishment, phoned his daughter and warned her not to continue making allegations.

‘He told me he could put me six feet under,’ says Miss Henderson, whose claims were investigated by the police. They interviewed both her and her mother, who supported her daughter’s claims.

But following a mysterious leak to the Press and the loss of evidence, Miss Henderson halted the investigation. She explains now that the police had ‘told me nobody would know until the investigation was over, but I was only half-way through my statement when it was leaked.

‘To have that happen to you, when it had taken me years to get to the point where I felt it was time for justice, was devastating. I was just a whimpering mess. I couldn’t go on.’

At the time, she handed a number of key pieces of evidence to police. She asked for their return several times over the years but was always told they were in a ‘safe’ place. Recently she was told that they had been ‘mislaid’.

‘I want answers for that,’ she says. ‘I want my stuff back. And I want it acknowledged that my father and Fairbairn did something very  evil. Not just to me. There are other children out there.

‘And these were people in power. We put them there and they are supposed to be trusted. It’s not right.’

Miss Henderson has lived with the scars, physical and mental, of the abuse all her life. As a teenager she developed an eating disorder. Following the birth of her son in her twenties, she suffered debilitating post-natal depression that caused many memories of those terrible times to come flooding back.

Eventually, she spent time in a psychiatric unit. Today, however, she feels that finally people will understand that she is telling the truth about Fairbairn: ‘I know – I hope – I will be believed.

‘He used to pay me money for it,’ she adds. ‘A pound here, a pound there. It was as if it was his way of thinking it was OK, because he’d paid for it.’

And like many abuse victims, for a long time she believed it was her own fault.

‘I used to feel guilty,’ she says. ‘I don’t feel guilty any more. Now I’m able to stand up and have a voice.’


Daily Mail
, August 14th, 2014
Jonathan Brocklebank, ‘A magic circle of judges, a sex abuse probe and the sinister truth about theFettesgate scandal’

  • Alleged in the 1990s that ‘magic circle’ of judges conspired to fix sentences
  • But Crown investigators found in 1992 the was no evidence of conspiracy
  • Detective’s report into claims was stolen from Fettes police HQ in 1992
  • Defence lawyer Robert Henderson let it be believed there was a magic circle
  • His record of legal figures compromised by their homosexuality did not exist
  • Henderson’s daughter Susie has accused late father of abusing her

It was the scandal that shook the Scottish legal establishment to its foundations, leaving no senior figure in the judiciary untouched by the whispering campaign it triggered. And, it appeared, there was not a shred of truth in it.

Exhaustive inquiries by Crown investigators in 1992 found no evidence whatever that a so-called ‘magic circle’ of judges, sheriffs and advocates was conspiring to ensure that homosexual criminals were given soft-touch treatment by the courts. Talk of senior judges in the magic circle being blackmailed by ‘rent boys’ was dismissed by the investigators as fanciful – and claims of corruption and collusion in the judiciary rejected as the ravings of conspiracy theorists. Yet there was just one element in the ‘Fettesgate’ scandal that did not seem to gel. Why was one of Scotland’s most admired and respected defence lawyers so keen to put it about that there was indeed a magic circle?

That man was Robert Henderson, a lawyer so lauded in his profession that fellow advocates used to make a point of slipping into court just to watch him in action. During the 1980s, after a particularly stirring closing speech to the jury in a murder trial, the presiding judge remarked that Henderson’s oratory had been ‘nothing short of masterful’.

He was charismatic, cultured and clubbable. And yet he seemed to want the world to know that the information he was sitting on would ‘blow the lid off’ the legal establishment.

Today’s revelations, detailing the sickening abuse of his daughter and his procurement of the child for high-powered friends to rape and molest, provide the strongest clue to Robert Henderson’s motivation. He was issuing a veiled threat to any and all who would attempt to bring him to justice.

As his daughter Susie Henderson reveals, he used to say: ‘If I go down, they’ll all go down with me.’

The defence lawyer certainly had no shortage of dirt on friends such as former Solicitor General Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, the MP he had allowed to rape his daughter.

But Henderson’s record of senior legal figures supposedly compromised by their homosexuality never truly existed. It was a classic poker player’s bluff – an attempt to convince potential opponents he held a stronger hand than he really did. And it worked. Henderson died at 75 in 2012 with his reputation largely intact.

Retired judge Lord McCluskey was among those to write a glowing tribute to him in the national Press. Henderson the smooth, impeccably attired defence counsel never did move from the well of the court to the part of the room where he truly belonged – the dock, to stand trial.

It was in 1989 that he stumbled upon the ‘insurance policy’ that might protect him against prosecution for the abuse to which he had subjected his daughter a  decade and a half earlier. It came in the form of Colin Tucker, a gay solicitor accused – and later cleared – of embezzling funds from the clients of the firm Burnett Walker, where he was a junior partner.

When Henderson was instructed to act as his defence counsel, he asked the solicitor to write him a potted history of his time at the firm to help with his case. The resulting document extended to 32 sides of foolscap.

The second half of it was certainly salacious, dealing with the promiscuity of both Mr Tucker and the senior partner at the firm, Ian Walker, a closet homosexual who committed suicide in 1988. But Mr Tucker’s statement contained damaging revelations about only one other member of the legal fraternity – Court of Session judge Lord Dervaird, who abruptly resigned in 1989. No one else had reason to be nervous. Yet Henderson made them so.

A three-month investigation led by prominent QC and future judge William Nimmo Smith into the alleged ‘magic circle’ conspiracy found: ‘There is no allegation in the statement, directly or by implication, of homosexual behaviour by any prominent member of the Scottish legal establishment.’

The report added: ‘In short, there is nothing in the statement which, if published, would “blow the lid off” the Scottish legal establishment, as we have heard it put.’

But Henderson tried to convince his colleagues otherwise. His first act on receiving the document from Mr Tucker was to breach his client’s confidentiality by passing news of it to legal peers, not  forgetting to mention Lord  Dervaird in the process.

In the Chinese whispers which followed, the document morphed into a ‘list’ of names – and rumour abounded about the people who might be included on it. It was all sparked by Henderson’s betrayal of his client’s confidence – a schoolboy error it was hard to believe a lawyer as experienced as Henderson could commit innocently. The 101-page Crown report into alleged conspiracy hinted as much.

It said: ‘We cannot avoid the conclusion that Robert Henderson has been one of the main instigators and perpetuators of the belief that there was a document, whether or not in the form of a “list”, containing information relating to persons other than Lord Dervaird, and, in particular, other judges.

‘Even after our inquiry began, he made statements to journalists which did nothing to dispel such a belief.’

Henderson allegedly told one journalist that if the list ever  did come out it would ruin  many careers in the legal establishment.

He claimed to other journalists that he kept a file in a safe at a secret location which would ‘rock the establishment’ and have reporters ‘salivating all the way to the telephone’.

The report concludes Henderson had chosen to let it be believed that he had information he did not have. One theory the investigators considered is he did so to head off possible criminal charges relating to irregularities in his business affairs.

But they dismissed the possibility that the case had quietly been dropped over fears that Henderson had the legal establishment in a stranglehold.

Could it be that the defence lawyer had much more to lose than his reputation over a few shady business deals? That his persistence in talking up the magic circle ‘list’ had much more to do with providing him an amnesty for his monstrous activities in the family home?

Whatever his motivations, the magic circle conspiracy would probably have amounted to  little more than unsubstantiated gossip, had Henderson not handed over a copy of Mr Tucker’s statement to the police.

It was an act that his client viewed as the ultimate treachery. Henderson’s explanation was that he did so in ‘wider interests’, but perhaps they were really rather narrow interests – his own.

The Tucker statement fed into a probe which Lothian and Borders police were already carrying out following allegations of senior public figures involved with rent boys in Edinburgh.

Ultimately it was passed to Detective Inspector Roger Orr, who had received orders to get to the bottom of claims that a well-established circle of homosexuals in the legal fraternity were seriously subverting justice.

The detective’s final report was supposed to be for chief constable Sir William Sutherland’s eyes only. But what happened next made his findings very public indeed.

The reason the scandal is known as Fettesgate is because it was at the Police HQ at Fettes that Mr Orr’s confidential report was to be found. And an intruder slipped in to the building through an open window and stole it.

The thief went to some lengths to disguise his intent in the break-in, daubing Animal Liberation Front slogans on the walls.

But the files taken were so sensitive, so potentially embarrassing, that the true purpose of the raid was soon clear enough. Panic swept the force as the scope for blackmailers dawned on its officers. In the Orr report lay the potential for a collapse of public faith in the judicial  system – for the detective did believe that some court cases were influenced by a magic circle.

The thief, it turned out, was a homosexual criminal and police informant called Derek Donaldson, who fed stories from his haul of police files to national newspaper journalists.

Finally Donaldson was assured immunity from prosecution in return for handing back the files, but the controversial findings of the Orr Report still made it into the public domain, causing a national sensation.

So grave was the charge now faced by the Scottish legal establishment that Prime Minister John Major ordered the Lord Advocate to hold an inquiry.

William Nimmo Smith and regional procurator fiscal James Friel were the men now tasked with uncovering the truth about the magic circle ‘conspiracy’.

They found no proof of any such magic circle – but clear evidence that Henderson wanted people to think there was one. Time and again, they concluded, it was ‘loose talk’ by Henderson which promoted the belief in a magic circle.

There was a final, extraordinary twist before the report’s official publication. A man posing as a reporter from a high-brow newspaper managed to con his way into Nimmo Smith’s home with a tape recorder and quiz him on the report’s findings.

The bogus journalist was none other than Derek Donaldson, the Fettes HQ thief.

Donaldson immediately sold his scoop to a tabloid, which ran a story under the headline ‘Nimmo the Dimmo’. Days later, the senior lawyer was admitted to hospital with nervous exhaustion.

It is perhaps significant that Sir Nicholas Fairbairn was among the most vocal critics of the blunder, saying: ‘This  absolutely impurifies the whole process. I don’t see that the Lord Advocate can do anything but reappoint a new commission to do the whole thing again.’

Just over two years later, Fairbairn was dead – never in his lifetime exposed as a paedophile. His friend Henderson lived much longer – long enough to learn that his daughter had no intention of letting him get away with his appalling treatment of her as a child.

Calling herself Julie X, she told newspapers in 2000 that her father, a leading Edinburgh lawyer, had abused her from the age of four. The law prevented her from naming him publicly, but he knew who he was – he knew she was coming after him.

And so the final years of a once-universally esteemed lawyer were lived with the tension of his disgrace hanging over him like a filthy raincloud.

He died before it burst. His sudden demise at his retirement home in South-west France spared him from ever facing the consequences of his deeds. And the tributes which followed his death were all generous.

‘It was a joy when Bob walked into court and announced he was appearing as counsel for the defence,’ remembered Lord McCluskey.

‘The lights seemed to shine a little brighter.’

Henderson was, it seems, a much darker character than the senior judge ever realised.


Evening News (Edinburgh),
August 14th, 2014
Diane King, ‘Top Tory raped me when I was four, now I want justice’

THE daughter of a prominent Edinburgh lawyer at the centre of the Fettesgate scandal of the 1990s has claimed she was raped by her father and a senior Tory MP.

Susie Henderson, the daughter of QC and temporary sheriff Robert Henderson, waived her right to anonymity to talk about the abuse she allegedly suffered at the hands of her father and the late Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, a former MP for Kinross and Western Perthshire, when she was four.

Miss Henderson, 48, said she was the victim of an organised paedophile ring consisting of high-powered legal figures who subjected her to years of abuse at locations including the five-storey Georgian townhouse in the New Town where her family lived.

Her father, Robert Henderson, was a pivotal figure in a major legal scandal of the late 1980s and early 1990s when he claimed a “magic circle” of judges, sheriffs and advocates were conspiring to ensure homosexual criminals were given light sentences by the courts. The claims were dismissed in an official inquiry, but much of the evidence in the report was stolen from Fettes by conman Derek Donaldson in 1992 and sold to the press.

Miss Henderson today called for a police investigation into her father and Fairbairn, halted in 2000 after evidence was mislaid and crucial details leaked to the press, to be re-opened.

“I want it acknowledged that my father and Fairbairn did something very evil. Not just to me. There are other children out there. And these were people in power. We put them there and they are supposed to be trusted.”

Miss Henderson first made allegations against Fairbairn and her father under the alias of Julie X in 2000, but no charges were brought.

She has chosen to come forward and be named after Fairbairn was implicated in the scandal over the Elm Guest House in London which saw youngsters abused by high-profile figures in the 1980s. Fairbairn died in 1995 at the age of 61, while Henderson died in 2012 aged 75.

Fairbairn’s daughter, Charlotte, 50, reportedly said she “did not know” whether the allegations against her father were true, but said she doubted it. “I would be very surprised by that, but he is dead,” she said. “He is not here to defend himself.”

Documents targeted by thief

THE Fettesgate scandal of 1992 involved the theft of sensitive materials from Lothian and Borders Police HQ at Fettes in July, 1992 – including a report by Detective Inspector Roger Orr into claims of an established “magic circle” of homosexuals in the legal fraternity who were subverting the course of justice. The theft was disguised as an attack by the Animal Liberation Front, but it later emerged the documents had been targeted by thief and conman Derek Conway, who sold the information from the files to national newspapers. Donaldson was later given an assured immunity from prosecution in return for handing back the files – but not before the Orr report made it into the public domain.


Daily Telegraph
, August 15th, 2014
Auslan Cramb, ‘I was victim of paedophile ring says woman ‘abused’ by Tory MP’

A WOMAN has claimed she was raped by a Tory MP who was a close ally of Margaret Thatcher and sexually abused by her father, a senior figure in the Scottish legal establishment.

Susie Henderson said she was sexually abused as a small child by her father, Robert Henderson QC, and by his friend Sir Nicholas Fairbairn.

She has waived her right to anonymity to claim she was the victim of an organised paedophile ring that also involved other legal figures.

Miss Henderson, 48, a mother of one who works in social care, first made allegations against Fairbairn, who was made solicitor general of Scotland by Mrs Thatcher, in 2000, when she was known only as Julie X. The police launched an inquiry at the time but no charges were brought after she halted the investigation when part of her statement was leaked to the press.

She said she had now decided to disclose her identity after the late Tory MP, who died in 1995, was linked to the scandal over the Elm Guest House in London, where youngsters from children’s homes were allegedly abused in the 1980s.

Last month, Fairbairn was named as one of those believed to have visited the house, which was also said to have been visited by Cyril Smith, the late Liberal MP who has been exposed as a paedophile.

Miss Henderson, who lives with her partner near Inverness, said she wanted a new police inquiry. She told the Daily Mail: “I want it acknowledged that my father and Fairbairn did something very evil. Not just to me.”

She added that she believes her father, who died in 2012, began abusing her at the age of three and repeatedly abused her until she was eight.

Miss Henderson also claimed her father, who was highly regarded as a defence lawyer and temporary sheriff, could be sadistically cruel, drank heavily and treated her mother like a “slave”.

She claimed that the family home in Edinburgh was often full of her father’s friends, who also abused her.

She told the newspaper that when she made the claims in 2000, senior Tories described her allegations as “rubbish” and her father phoned her and warned her not to continue making the allegations.

Miss Henderson also disclosed that she developed an eating disorder as a teenager, and that following the birth of her son in her twenties she suffered postnatal depression that caused many memories of the abuse to return and later spent time in a psychiatric unit.

She said she now hoped that she would be believed, adding: “He [Fairbairn] used to pay me money for it. A pound here, a pound there. It was as if it was his way of thinking it okay.”

Graeme Pearson, Scottish Labour’s justice spokesman, said ministers could not “stand back” from the call for an inquiry.

Fairbairn’s daughter Charlotte told the newspaper that she “utterly doubted” that her father was a child abuser, adding that he was “not here to defend himself”.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Robert Henderson claimed a so-called “magic circle” of judges, sheriffs and advocates were conspiring to ensure that homosexual criminals were given softtouch treatment by the courts. The claims were dismissed in an official inquiry.

GRAPHIC: Susie Henderson waived her anonymity to accuse her late father Robert Henderson QC and the Tory MP Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, right, of abusing her when she was a child


The Herald
, August 15th, 2014
Victoria Weldon, ‘Former judge’s shock over QC paedophile ring allegations’

A FORMER senior judge has claimed he is “utterly flabbergasted” at allegations a prominent lawyer and close friend of his headed up a high profile paedophile ring.

Lord McCluskey said he was also shocked to hear that Robert Henderson QC had been accused of repeatedly sexually abusing his daughter from the age of three.

Susie Henderson has waived her right to anonymity to tell of her alleged ordeal at the hands of her father and several other prominent figures, including senior Tory MP Sir Nicholas Fairbairn.

The 48-year-old claims she was repeatedly subjected to sickening sex attacks by her father, who was well known and respected in Scotland’s legal fraternity.

She also alleges that she was passed among a number of his colleagues who also attacked and raped her at the family’s Edinburgh home.

Lord McCluskey, a former Solicitor General for Scotland, said he found the claims hard to believe.

The former judge, who wrote a glowing obituary for Mr Henderson following his death in 2012, said: “I’m utterly flabbergasted by these allegations. Never in my life have I heard any suggestion of anything of this kind involving Bob Henderson.

“I’m just amazed to hear it and I would be astonished if it turns out to be true.

“I’ve no reason to believe it’s true – I have no evidence and I never heard even a bit of gossip suggesting this.

“I would await the outcome of any inquiry before adding anything further.”

Miss Henderson’s case was looked at by police in 2000, but was halted after details were leaked to the press. She said officers had told her that nobody would know until the investigation was over, but panicked and refused to continue when details appeared publicly.

At that time she handed a number of key pieces of evidence over to the police but claims she was recently told that they had been “misplaced”.

A number of articles appeared following the initial investigation, but Miss Henderson was referred to only as Julie X and her father’s identity was never revealed.

She now wants the case to be reopened by detectives.

“I want it acknowledged that my father and Fairbairn did something very evil,” she said. “Not just to me. There are other children out there. And these were people in power. We put them there and they are supposed to be trusted. It’s not right.”

Miss Henderson also claims to have the names of six other members of the Scottish legal profession who were involved, two of whom are still alive.

Detective Chief Superintendent Lesley Boal said Police Scotland were committed to investigating all reports of historic abuse.

She said: “There are many reasons why a victim may not report such abuse until years – even decades – after the event.

“These can include fear of not being believed, especially if the individual is a prominent public figure, and of reliving the incidents. Similarly, some victims may contact the police to report abuse but then find it too difficult. We will listen, we will ask our partners in support services to assist and we can pick up where we left off when they feel more able to provide the necessary information.”

She added: “Any report of historic child abuse will be treated seriously.”

Miss Henderson claims that, while her father was seen as a flamboyant star of the legal profession, behind closed doors her had a much more sinister side.

She believes he began abusing her when she was just three and would tell her mother he was taking her for a nap before carrying out the attacks. The advocate also hosted regular parties and Miss Henderson said she was told to do “whatever anybody wanted”.

Miss Henderson claims to remember an incident where Mr Fairbairn, a former Solicitor General, raped her when she was just four or five years old.

Mr Fairbairn, who died in 1995, has been linked to the notorious Elm Guest House in London, where young boys are believed to have been plied with alcohol and sexually assaulted. Calls have been made for the Scottish Government to instruct an inquiry into historic sex abuse cases.


GRAPHIC: Nicholas Fairbairn: Susie Henderson claims he raped her. Robert Henderson: Daughter claims he sexually abused her. claims: Susie Henderson says she was subjected to sickening sex attacks by her father. Picture: Derek Ironside


Evening News (Edinburgh)
, August 15th, 2014
Kaye Nicolson, ‘Victims of rape need justice’

Calls have been made for a Scottish investigation into historic rape claims after the daughter of a prominent Edinburgh solicitor claimed she was the victim of a paedophile ring.

Susie Henderson, whose father Robert Henderson was the QC and temporary sheriff at the heart of the Fettesgate scandal, waived her right to anonymity to talk about the abuse she allegedly suffered as a child at the hands of her father and the late Tory MP Sir NicholasFairbairn.

The 48-year-old claimed she was targeted by high-powered legal figures who subjected her to years of abuse at addresses in the Capital – including her New Town family home.

Miss Henderson’s shocking claims – which included an allegation that Sir Nicholas raped her at the age of four – have fuelled calls for a thorough inquiry into historic child abuse cases in Scotland.

The UK government has launched plans for an overarching child abuse inquiry, but its exact remit has not been confirmed.

Lothians Labour MSP Sarah Boyack today added her voice to growing pressure for a home-based investigation after her party colleague and former police officer Graeme Pearson demanded a public inquiry last month.

She said: “I support his call because victims need access to justice. Survivors of abuse deserve the chance be heard and possibly gain closure from their horrific experiences. It is also important that lessons are learned for the future.”

She added: “With more people speaking out, the case for a public inquiry becomes ever stronger.”

Meanwhile, Police Scotland said it was “committed” to investigating all reports of historic child abuse.

Detective Chief Superintendent Lesley Boal said: “There are many reasons why a victim may not report such abuse until years – even decades – after the event.

“These can include fear of not being believed, especially if the individual is a prominent public figure, and of reliving the incidents. Similarly, some victims may contact the police to report abuse but then find it too difficult. We will listen.”

Robert Henderson QC, who died in 2012, prompted a major legal scandal in the late 1980s and early 1990s when he claimed a “magic circle” of judges, sheriffs and advocates were conspiring to ensure homosexual criminals were given light sentences by the courts. The claims were dismissed in an official inquiry, but much of the evidence in the report was stolen from Fettes police HQ by conman Derek Donaldson and sold to the press, in an incident dubbed “Fettesgate”.

The UK government’s child abuse inquiry was announced earlier this year after it was alleged that senior politicians were passed files in the 1980s containing paedophile allegations about prominent figures.


The Sun
, August 15th, 2014
Stuart Patterson, ‘I was raped aged four by MP Sir Nicky; Top Tory ‘in paedo gang”

A MUM claims she was raped by former Tory stalwart Sir Nicholas Fairbairn when she was four years old.

Susie Henderson suffered years of abuse at the hands of Scotland’s ex-Solicitor General, she says.

She told how she was offered for sex to the MP by her father Robert Henderson, also a lawyer, who also raped her.

Susie, 48, claimed the pair were part of a secret paedophile ring of Scottish establishment figures, who preyed on underage youngsters at drink and drug-fuelled parties.

She said: “I want it acknowledged that my father and Fairbairn did something very evil. Not just to me.

“There are other children out there. These were people in power. We put them there and they are supposed to be trusted. It’s not right.”

Susie claims her father laughed as she was abused for the first time by Fairbairn at the family home in Edinburgh.

She said the flamboyant Kinross and Western Perthshire MP – who died aged 61 in 1995 – later gave her money after some sex attacks.

And she named six other members of the legal profession who she claims also abused her, including two still alive. Her father was never charged before he died in 2012 at 75.

Susie’s allegations come as an official probe has been launched amid claims of a Westminster paedophile ring.

Fairbairn, known as Nicky, was named as a possible suspect. His daughter Charlotte, 50, said she would be “very surprised” if the claims were true.

She added: “I doubt it. It’s all such a long time ago. I hope it’s not true.


Daily Mail
, August 23rd, 2014
Guy Adams and Andrew Malone, ‘Revealed: Full Horrifying Truth about the other Paedophile at Maggie’s side’

Despite his reputation as a womaniser and fondness for malt whisky, a daily habit that brought about his premature death aged just 61, the funeral of Sir Nicholas Fairbairn in 1995 was marked by an outpouring of respect and admiration.

As more than 1,000 luminaries crammed into St John’s Kirk in Perth, the former Tory MP’s significance as a political figure was underlined by the presence of Lady Thatcher, who had promoted the brilliant solicitor to her first Cabinet in 1979.

While a lone Scottish piper played a lament, Britain’s first woman Prime Minister strode solemnly to the pulpit to read an excerpt from The Prophet, a book by the Lebanese poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran, who had been one of Fairbairn’s favourite authors.

Her tribute was witnessed by a host of leading politicians, judges, and Scottish aristocrats of the day.

They had come to pay respects to a uniquely colourful individual who, in a political career spanning two decades, has achieved a mixture of fame and notoriety as one the most recognisable but also controversial members of the Commons.

A self-styled eccentric, who lived in the 13th-century Fordell Castle near Dunfermline, Sir Nicholas was blessed with extraordinary intelligence and political talent. He had been Scotland’s youngest ever QC before being elected MP for Perth and Kinross in 1974, at the age of 40.

In Westminster, where his initial rise was stratospheric, he cut a dandyish figure, and was often seen in blue baronial tartan adorned with two miniature (working) silver revolvers, which Sir Nicholas would load with blanks and fire when drunk.

When speaking in the Commons, Sir Nicolas sometimes wore an enormous Highland smock (I know I look like an ironmonger, but I don’t want my suits to glitter like other MPs’ ‘), or a kilt teamed with double-breasted scarlet jacket, gold watch chain and lurid pink shirt.

Other favourite outfits were buckled shoes, tartan knickerbockers, and a thick brown jumper over which he placed a huge leather belt with a metal buckle. When the Queen knighted him in 1988, he turned up in full Scottish regalia, complete with a skhian dubh a small dagger and sword.

Clothes weren’t the only thing about Sir Nicholas that generated column inches, though.

A notorious adulterer, who clocked up two wives and scores of mistresses, he was forced to resign as Lady Thatcher’s Solicitor General for Scotland in 1982, after a scandal stemming from his decision not to press charges against a group of men accused of attacking a Glasgow prostitute with razor blades during a gang rape.

Thereafter, he descended into chronic alcoholism, consuming at least a bottle of Scotch each day though he stressed that he was happy to make do’ with vodka.

As his fondness for drink worsened, his tongue loosened. Throughout the Eighties and early Nineties, he became notorious for giving colourful interviews in which he expressed deeply offensive, and often highly misogynistic, sentiments.

On Desert Island Discs, for example, he declared that female MPs lack fragrance they all look as if they’re from the 5th Kiev Stalinist machine gun parade’.

In newspaper interviews, he called Labour MP and feminist Clare Short the big, fat one,’ described rape victims as tauntresses’ and asked what is a skirt, but an open gateway?’

In late-night Commons debate about the gay age of consent in 1994, Sir Nicholas was meanwhile called to order by the Speaker for delivering a drunken diatribe against homosexuality which included an obscene description of the mechanics of sodomy’.

In later years he took great pleasure in making unsolicited and often deeply demeaning advances on women unfortunate enough to catch his eye.

The Guardian reporter Judy Rumbold interviewed him in 1991. Towards the end of proceedings, she wrote: He lunges across the table and tries to engage me in a whiskery snog.’ Shockingly, Fairbairn’s second wife, Suzanne (known as Sam) was in the next room at the time.

Not even Lady Thatcher could avoid his unwanted attention. In the mid-Eighties, Sir Nicholas drunkenly propositioned the then Prime Minister during a dinner at Hollyrood Palace, whispering into her ear that he’d always fancied’ her.

The Iron Lady is said to have responded: Quite right, Nicholas, you have very good taste.’ But noting the extent of Fairbairn’s intoxication, she then added: However, I don’t think that you would make it at the moment.’

Doubtless Lady Thatcher, like many in those less enlightened times, regarded her former Cabinet ally as an amusing buffoon.

Perhaps she, and other friends, forgave his wandering hands as a sort of harmless horseplay. Indeed, following his death from cirrhosis of the liver, obituaries portrayed him as a bombastic eccentric who’d added greatly to the gaiety of Westminster.

But that was then. Today, things have changed. And in light of a series of appalling recent allegations, that light-hearted view of SirNicholas Fairbairn seems nothing less than grotesque.

For in addition to being a drunk and a womaniser, this famous Scottish Conservative also stands accused of being a predatory paedophile one of two abusers now identified in Lady Thatcher’s inner circle.

Talking to the Daily Mail last week, 48-year-old Susie Henderson gave a disturbing account of her childhood encounters with the MP.

Waiving her anonymity, she claimed that Fairbairn had sexually assaulted and raped her on several occasions, beginning when she was four years old.

Sir Nicholas was a close friend of Susie’s late father, Robert Henderson, a fellow leading light of the Scottish legal establishment, who regularly held decadent private parties at his family’s large and smartly decorated townhouse in Edinburgh.

It was during one of these sordid events in about 1970 that Susie says her father came into the kitchen with Fairbairn.

I was maybe four years old,’ she told the Mail. I had a skirt on and Nicholas and my dad had been drinking, and my dad told me to sit on Nicholas’s knee. I sat on his knee and he put his hand up my skirt and abused me. My dad just stood there laughing.’

During another party, Susie says she was raped by Sir Nicholas and another man in a guest room at the top of her parents’ five-storey home.

I hated that man,’ said Ms Henderson, who says she still recalls the pungent smell of Fairbairn’s feet. She’s not sure exactly how often Sir Nicholas abused her over the years, but says it happened many times.

Ms Henderson does not seem to have been his only victim, either.

Last month, Sir Nicholas was named as one of three MPs on a list of clients of the notorious Elm Guest House, a gay brothel in Barnes, West London, where under-age boys from a nearby care home were allegedly plied with drink and drugs and sexually abused.

The other MPs were Sir Peter Morrison another Scottish minister close to Lady Thatcher, who was a prolific child abuser and Cyril Smith, the Liberal MP for Rochdale exposed as a paedophile in 2012.

The trio feature in documents apparently penned by the owner of the guesthouse, which state that N Fairburn’ (sic) and C Smith’ (who asked to be called Tubby by staff and boys), visited on June 7, 1982. The documents add that Fairburn’ had used boys in sauna’. Given the very public opposition to homosexuality that Fairbairn expressed in Parliament, allegations that he abused boys at a gay sauna have shocked his former colleagues.

Take an extended look at hiss life, however, and some astonishing secrets emerge. For in his younger days, this obsessive womaniser turns out to have been something rather different: a highly promiscuous gay liberation activist with murky links to the now-notorious Paedophile Information Exchange.

And indeed, those who knew him before he entered politics say that Fairbairn grew up aggressively bisexual, but suppressed his true desires in order to advance in the Tory party of the mid-Seventies.

They believe this left him hopelessly conflicted, leading to his chronic drink problem and the predatory and often hugely offensive nature of his advances to women.

The story begins in a deeply dysfunctional childhood. Fairbairn was born in 1933. His father was a prominent psychoanalyst, his mother an aristocrat. By the time I was born,’ he recalled, they were totally estranged.’

After graduating from the exclusive Loretto School and Edinburgh University, he trained as a solicitor, and soon became known in legal circles as a gifted advocate with strong libertarian principles and, outside the office, a keen interest in the arts.

An amateur poet and painter, he soon became chairman of Edinburgh’s Left-wing Traverse theatre in the Sixties. And it was here that he became active in the radical gay community.

Under Fairbairn’s stewardship, the Traverse began specialising in gay and lesbian drama,’ recalls a contemporary. I remember going to one play called something like Gay Sweatshop,’ and another called Mass in F,’ which was full of nudity and got picketed by the Mary Whitehouse lobby. The funny thing, given Fairbairn’s views later in life, was that he was also notorious for propositioning male actors and theatre staff. I remember a boy in his 20s telling me about an advance Fairbairn had made on him at a Traverse party.’

Fairbairn was in fact married from 1962-79, to Elizabeth Mackay, the daughter of the 13th Baron Reay and mother of his three surviving daughters. But in the circles in which he moved, this was not uncommon.

It was a time of free love. You must remember that homosexuality was illegal in Scotland until 1980, and many gay and bisexual men were supposedly happily married,’ adds the contemporary.

We have established that, in 1970, Sir Nicholas became honorary vice president of the Scottish Minorities Group (SMG), a new, radical gay liberation organisation founded by a man called Ian Dunn.

The SMG campaigned, among other things, for homosexuality to be legalised in Scotland, and for the age of consent to be identical for gay and straight sex.

But it also had a more contentious place in history. For in 1974, Dunn and another SMG activist, Michael Hanson, co-founded the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE). The vile organisation, which lobbied for child sex to be legalised, was for the first year of its existence a sub- committee of the SMG.

Over the ensuing years, PIE retained affiliate status with the SMG, and forged links with other mainstream groups, including the National Council for Civil Liberties, which at the time was being run by future Labour heavyweights Patricia Hewitt, Harriet Harman and Jack Dromey.

Ms Hewitt apologised for her links to PIE earlier this year when they were highlighted by the Mail, though Harman and Dromey have so far refused to say sorry.

But we digress. After being selected as Conservative MP, Fairbairn performed a remarkable ethical volte face, quietly resigning his vice presidency of SMG in 1974, and morphing overnight into a vociferous opponent of gay rights. His links to PIE were never discovered by the Press. And details of his progressive youth never filtered through to Westminster where, though re-married to Suzanne, he ensured that he became famed as a womaniser by embarking on several high-profile affairs.

There were dozens of female lovers. One, a Commons secretary, attempted suicide outside his London home in 1981. Another, broadcaster Esther Rantzen, says he plied her with Krug and beluga caviar a few years later. The rest was inevitable,’ she wrote in her memoirs.

Ian Pace, a lecturer at City University in London, and a campaigner and researcher on organised abuse, believes Fairbairn’s behaviour during this era was part of a concerted effort to cover the tracks’ of his bisexual past.

If so, then it wasn’t entirely successful. In the early Nineties, a Scottish newspaper discovered Fairbairn’s name in an old piece of SMG literature. He responded by claiming that he’d had no idea of the nature of the perverted’ minority the SMG lobbied for when he’d agreed to be their figurehead.

That explanation always seemed unlikely, however. A former SMG activist who emailed the Mail this week described it as clearly a lie’.

I have never had access to early SMG membership records (they probably no longer exist), but I am told that Fairbairn was a fully paid up individual member before he was appointed as Honorary VP,’ said the activist.

Even if he hadn’t been, SMG was very high profile. And of course Fairbairn received all the Group’s mailings, for four years, so he must have known what the organisation did.

He moved in a lot of artistic circles in his youth and I know several (straight) people who can recall being propositioned by him. I wonder to what extent the denial of his sexuality led to the drinking which so clearly wrecked his life.’

Little wonder, perhaps, that even in his final years, Fairbairn still manoeuvred to keep his past under wraps.

A few years before his death, he called for Leveson-style curbs on Press freedom amid newspaper claims (dismissed by an inquiry) that a so-called magic circle’ of Scottish judges, sheriffs and advocates in his former professional set were conspiring to ensure that homosexual criminals were given soft-touch treatment by the courts.

After Sir Nicholas was buried at Fordell Castle, the obituaries talked of him as one of Parliament’s great womanisers. All of them, that is, except one in the little-read underground magazine ScotsGay.

Obtained by the Mail this week, it lamented that Fairbairn had died firmly in the closet’.

One straight man who remembers being propositioned by Fairbairn in the Sixties told ScotsGay: It was really a shame if he’d just accepted and been open about his bisexuality it would have taken a lot of pressure off him and he might not have taken to the drink.’

Given what we now know, of course, Fairbairn had plenty of other reasons to conceal the real nature of his sexuality. Did he, perhaps, drink himself to death because he was haunted by his paedophile past?

That seems unlikely. Shortly before his death, he expressed no regrets. I’ve had a hell of good time on Earth,’ he told Martin Robb, a fellow Tory. It has been Heaven.’

* Additional reporting:

Graham Grant

Secret perversion: Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, and, below, with Margaret Thatcher. Inset, Susie Henderson, who says he raped her when she was four years old.

Sunday Herald, August 24th, 2014
‘Notorious paedophile headed Scottish care home inquiry’

CHILD protection experts and abuse survivors are demanding an inquiry into why one of Britain’s most notorious paedophiles was put in charge of an investigation into a crimes against children at a Glasgow boys’ home.

The Sunday Herald has learned that Peter Righton – one of Britain’s leading care workers, and a man who lived a double life as a paedophile – headed an investigation into allegations of cruelty at the Larchgrove assessment centre for boys in Glasgow in the 1970s.

The inquiry resulted in no criminal proceedings being taken, despite 13 out of 30 allegations of violence and neglect being proved. The home, in Springboig, was under the control of Glasgow City Council, then Glasgow Corporation.

Glasgow City Council is now trying to trace all documentation in connection with the case. The council and the Scottish Government have both called on anyone who may have suffered abuse at Larchgrove to contact the police.

Although the inquiry in the 1970s focused solely on physical and emotional abuse, an investigation by the Sunday Herald in 2007 revealed that sexual abuse of children was also taking place in Larchgrove at the same time. A former director of social work said he had been aware of abuse at the home in the mid-1970s. There were claims that female as well as male members of staff were involved in the abuse of boys.

Righton, who co-led the Larchgrove inquiry in 1973, worked as a child protection expert and social care worker. However, he was also a founding member of the infamous Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) which campaigned for adults to be allowed to legally have sex with children.

In 1992, Righton was convicted of importing child abuse images when customs intercepted material en route from Holland. A police raid on his home turned up more paedophile material as well as numerous letters relating details of abuse.

He died in 2007, but last year the Metropolitan Police set up Operation Cayacos to investigate claims that Righton was part of an establishment paedophile network.

Claims have been made that Righton was connected to Cyril Smith, the late Liberal MP now exposed as a paedophile. Smith is known to have visited the Elm Guest House in London. Following claims that politicians and others abused boys in care at the Elm Guest House, the Met launched Operation Fernbridge. The late Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, a Conservative MP and solicitor-general for Scotland, has also been linked to the Elm Guest House.

Righton worked in a children’s home and was a lecturer in child protection and residential care. He was director of education at the National Institute for Social Work, and a consultant to the National Children’s Bureau. However, he is also now seen as one of the most determined and well-connected paedophile offenders in British criminal history.

The inquiry into Larchgrove ended in March 1973, when Righton was in his mid-40s. It came just a few years after Righton advised the Home Office on changes to the ­residential childcare system. As part of his research, Righton is alleged to have travelled extensively to carehomes across the UK.

There are claims he also visited Bryn Estyn approved school in Wrexham in Wales. Bryn Estyn was later at the centre of an abuse scandal which saw 140 former residents claim they were abused from 1974-84. An official report described “appalling” abuse, and former housemaster Peter Howarth was jailed for 10 years for sexually abusing boys as young as 12.

Peter McKelvie, a former head of child protection in England who helped convict Righton, told the Sunday Herald: “It is for me a no-brainer that Righton’s 1973 Larchgrove inquiry has to be declared null and void for many reasons and a new inquiry needs to be requested which should take an in-depth look at who recommended Righton and appointed him.

“A new investigation must be sought and former residents of Larchgrove pre-1973 be encouraged to come forward.”

Frank Doherty, founder of the Scottish charity Incas – In Care Abuse Survivors – yesterday also called for a new inquiry. Doherty was a resident at Larchgrove in the late 1960s and was subjected to regular physical abuse and violence.

He said Righton’s role leading the Larchgrove inquiry was “disgraceful”, adding that as well as a fresh inquiry into the care home, the Scottish Government should also institute a wide-ranging public inquiry into abuse, equivalent to Northern Ireland’s Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse.

“There has been too much cover-up and protection of those in high places,” Doherty said.

“We [Incas] have been calling for a public inquiry, similar to the one now going on in Northern Ireland, for the last 15 years. The Scottish Government is doing nothing to help us.”

The Larchgrove inquiry was conducted by Ronald Bennett QC, Sheriff of Berwickshire, and Righton. They were appointed by Glasgow council to investigate allegations made by a former supervisor, Francis Corrigan, at the carehome. Their report stated: “We do not find that the staff at Larchgrove pursued a course of systematic violence or harshness towards the boys in their charge.”

Some of the complaints of ill-treatment brought by the staff whistleblower were described as trivial, exaggerated and showing undue sensitivity. The report went on to praise staff for devotion to duty under “stress-producing conditions”.

Larchgrove was formerly known as a remand home for boys aged 11 and up who had appeared before a Children’s Panel or Sheriff Court.

The decision not to go for criminal proceedings in the Larchgrove case was taken in a statement issued on March 21, 1973 by Stanley Bowen, Crown Agent for Scotland, with the authority of Norman Wylie QC, the Lord Advocate – who was also a Conservative MP in Edinburgh. The statement said that the required standard of evidence was not available to justify criminal proceedings.

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said yesterday: “It’s understandable that people might have concerns. We are attempting to recover the report of the investigation and any surviving paperwork. While we will look afresh at any evidence of how the investigation was carried out, anyone who wishes to make an allegation of criminality should contact Police Scotland in the first instance.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “In terms of in-care historic abuse, independent inquiries in 2007 and 2009 explored how such abuses happened and addressed the particular challenges faced by the care system in Scotland.

“This systemic review and legislation on the management, cataloguing and retention of records delivered major improvements in the protection of young people in care. The Scottish Government will consider what further action is required in advance of our response to the Interaction Action Plan Recommendations in the autumn.

“We have also set up the National Confidential Forum which allows those who were placed in institutional care as children to recount their experiences of being in care in a confidential, non-judgmental and supportive setting.”


GRAPHIC: Peter Righton, below, one of Britain’s leading care workers while living a double life as a paedophile, led an investigation into allegations of cruelty at Larchgrove in Glasgow, left, in the 1970s 

Scotland on Sunday, November 9th, 2014
Tom Peterkin, ‘Behind the scenes bid to mount child abuse inquiry for Scotland’

A PLAN to hold public inquiry into historical child abuse in Scotland is being prepared by the Scottish Government, Scotland on Sunday has learned.

Ministers are looking at establishing a high-profile investigation into allegations of abuse carried out in care homes, educational institutions, by religious orders and by high-profile members of the Scottish establishment.

Discussions are taking place about the remit and timing of an inquiry, which would look at the allegations and how they were handled by the authorities at the time.

This week the education secretary, Michael Russell, will address Holyrood on child protection and will mention the issue of historical abuse in Scotland. His statement on Tuesday is not expected to include an official announcement of a public inquiry – an omission that will dismay abuse survivors who have been campaigning for years for such an investigation.

However, Scotland on Sunday understands that ministers and officials are working behind the scenes to set up a historical abuse inquiry in the coming months.

More work needs to be done to establish the precise nature of the inquiry and ministers are deliberating in order to avoid the problems that have plagued a similar investigation south of the Border.

Last week, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, apologised over the failure of a UK Government inquiry into child abuse to find a suitable chairperson.

Her apology came after May’s second nominated chairperson, Fiona Woolf, stood down because of her links to Lord Brittan, the Tory politician who was home secretary when some of the alleged abuse took place.

Woolf’s departure followed the resignation of Baroness Butler-Sloss, who resigned because of a conflict of interests arising from her brother Sir Michael Havers’s position as attorney general during the 1980s.

In Scotland, allegations of historical abuse have been made by former pupils at the Roman Catholic Fort Augustus School on the banks of Loch Ness. Hundreds of children are said to have been abused at Nazareth House in Aberdeen. Allegations of cruelty have also been made by those who were at Larchgrove boys home in Glasgow.

The inquiry is also expected to examine allegations involving the late Conservative MP Nicholas Fairbairn and a prominent member of the legal establishment, Robert Henderson QC.

This summer Henderson’s daughter Susie waived her anonymity to allege she had been assaulted by her father and Fairbairn, both of whom are now dead, from the age of four.

She said they were members of an organised paedophile ring which abused her in her family’s Georgian house in Edinburgh’s New Town and other locations. Fairbairn, a QC and former solicitor-general, has already been linked to the Elm Guest House in London – a gay brothel alleged to have hosted parties where vulnerable young boys had sex with influential people, which is now the subject of a police investigation named Operation Fernbridge.

Henderson was at the heart of the so-called Magic Circle scandal which emerged in 1989 and centred around rumours that a network of homosexual lawyers and judges in Scotland were conspiring to “go easy” on gay criminals. The rumours led to Fettesgate – where a 1992 police report into the claims was stolen from Edinburgh’s police headquarters – and ultimately led to an inquiry by William Nimmo Smith QC the following year, which dismissed claims of a conspiracy.

The Nimmo Smith report also took in concerns over Operation Planet, an investigation into a 16-year-old boy on leave from a children’s home who was drugged and raped by a group of men at an address in Edinburgh.

It is expected to be a matter of months before the Scottish Government makes the final decision on what form any inquiry will take.

Last night campaigners for an inquiry gave a cautious welcome to the prospect of an investigation, but remained impatient that it was taking so long. Frank Doherty, the founder of of INCAS (In Care Abuse Survivors) said: “We have been begging for a public inquiry for 15 years, but all the government has been doing is stalling, stalling.

“It was the government which put us in these places and when you have been fighting for this as long as I have, you can get a bit cynical. Don’t get me wrong. I would love to see a public inquiry, but we are still waiting.”

Doherty, who was abused in Larchgrove in the 1950s, added: “Everything has been covered up by the establishment – these paedophile rings came from the top of the tree.”

Graeme Pearson, the Labour justice spokesman who has been campaigning for an inquiry, said: “I think the pressure has become so significant and events elsewhere in the UK means that this needs to be done to clear the air. I just don’t know why the government has been dallying so long.”

Russell’s statement on Tuesday will focus on child sexual exploitation. The statement follows a warning from Annette Bruton, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate, that it would be a “serious mistake” to assume that Scotland is immune from the exploitation seen in Rotherham.

The Telegraph, November 11th, 2014
David Barrett, ‘How the child sex abuse review searched for key names; Pages buried at the back of the Home Office inquiry into handling of child sex abuse allegations reveal how it looked for references to a series of political figures’

Home Office staff were instructed to search their databases for information about paedophile allegations as part of the review by Peter Wanless.

Civil servants were handed a list of search terms including “homosexual”, “under age” and “indecent”.

But they were also given a list of key names who were either major political figures of the day or who have since been linked with sex crime allegations.

Top of the list was Cyril Smith, the Rochdale Liberal MP since exposed as a paedophile.

His name was followed by Leon Brittan, the home secretary of the day, now Lord Brittan of Spennithorne.

Also on the list of names to be searched for was Greville Janner, now Lord Janner, whose home was searched by police last year in connection with an investigation into historic child sex abuse allegations.

It also included Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, the late solicitor general for Scotland who a woman claimed earlier this year raped her when she was four years old.

David Atkinson, the late Tory MP, was also on the list of terms.

His son Anthony said earlier this year that he believed his father was a “prolific sexual predator” whose name may have featured in the dossier compiled by Geoffrey Dickens MP, whose work helped to trigger the current investigations even though he died in 1995.

The review by Peter Wanless, head of the NSPCC, and Richard Whittam QC also requested searches for names of a number of members of the highly controversial Paedophile Information Exchange group, including its former chairman Steven Adrian Smith .

The Herald, November 15th, 2014
Ellen Thomas, ‘Historic abuse probe: Police investigate possible murder’

Detectives examining allegations of historic sex abuse with links to government have launched a new investigation into “possible homicide”.

Scotland Yard said Operation Midland was started after officers working on Operation Fairbank, which is looking into claims of “serious non-recent sexual abuse”, were given information about alleged murders.

A spokesman said: “Our inquiries into this, over subsequent weeks, have revealed further information regarding possible ­homicide. Based on our current knowledge, this is the first time that this specific information has been passed to the Met.”

The BBC quoted a man who, it claimed, has told police investigating the alleged abuse that “former senior military and political figures”, as well as “law enforcement”, were involved.

According to the broadcaster, the witness, now in his 40s, claimed the group had access to 15 to 20 youngsters.

The man, speaking anonymously, said: “It started with my father. It started with quite severe physical abuse, quickly turning into sexual as well.

“Within a very short space of time he had handed me over, or whatever you want to call it, to the group. They controlled my life for the next nine years.

“They created fear that penetrated every part of me. That was part of my life, day in and day out. You didn’t question what they wanted, you didn’t hesitate to do what they asked you to do.

“You did what you were told without question or the punishments were very severe. They had no hesitation in doing what they wanted to do.

“Some of them were quite open about who they were. They had no fear at all of being caught, it didn’t even cross their mind. They could do anything they wanted without question and we were told that.

“I’ve never experienced pain like it and I hope I never do again.”

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said that because the inquiry was at an early stage it would not appropriate to issue appeals or reveal more information.

Detectives from the Metropolitan Police child abuse investigation command are working closely with colleagues in homicide and major crime units under the name of Operation Midland.

Operation Fairbank was launched in response to information passed on by MP Tom Watson, who used Prime Minister’s Questions in 2012 to air claims that there was a paedophile ring with links to No 10.

Mr Watson used parliamentary privilege to allege that a file of evidence used to convict Peter Righton of importing child pornography in 1992 contained “clear intelligence” of a sex-abuse gang.

He wrote to Scotland Yard, which has since spawned two more inquiries from Fairbank – Fernbridge, which is looking at claims linked to the Elm Guest House in Barnes, south west London, in the 1980s, and Cayacos.

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, the controversial former Solicitor General for Scotland, has been linked to the scandal after claims emerged that the former Tory MP, who died in 1995 aged 61, may have visited the guest house.

In August, Scotland Yard said it had tripled the number of officers investigating the allegations of sex abuse in the wake of the claims of a Westminster cover-up.

The anonymous witness quoted by the BBC urged people to come forward with information.

He said: “Anyone who knew anything, it’s important they come forward too. They need to find the strength that we as survivors have done.

“If they have any suspicions, if they have any concerns, if they know they were part of it, they need to come forward and share what they know.”


GRAPHIC: Tom Watson: Parliamentary privilege allowed him to air claims.

 

Scotsman, November 17th, 2014
Claire Mckim, ’13 cases of child sex abuse every day in Scotland’

Child protection officers in Scotland are being presented with up to 13 new child sex abuse cases every day, it has emerged.

New figures reveal that between 2011 and September this year, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre passed on 10,434 cases of child sexual exploitation to police officers in Scotland to investigate.

At its peak during 2013, evidence of sex crime, including online abuse, was being handed to police in Scotland at a rate of 13 cases a day.

The statistics have been labelled “grave” and “extremely worrying” by experts.

The revelations come just days after education minister Mike Russell MSP announced taxi drivers, hotel staff and other night workers are to be issued with guidance on how to spot child sex abuse.

The Scottish Government is preparing to launch a public inquiry following the publication of a report by the charity Children in Scotland, which warned the country lacks a “confident and competent workforce for protecting children”.

Figures uncovered through a Westminster parliamentary question revealed that, during 2011, more than 1,100 leads were passed to UK police forces, which increased to 1,927 in 2012.

In 2013, that soared to 4,875. There have been 2,519 cases in the first nine months of 2014.

Lucy Morton, manager of the NSPCC’s Glasgow service centre, said: “The large number of children at risk of sexual exploitation is a matter of grave concern.

“Children who are abused or sexually exploited need to be listened to, believed and supported.”

Last month, Police Scotland announced the setting up of a National Child Abuse Investigation Unit to improve specialist intelligence-gathering and co-ordinate investigations.

Brian Docherty, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, warned that the volume of work faced by the unit may have a negative impact on frontline policing.

He said: “Resources have to come from somewhere and if that’s going to have to come from 24/7 response police, it is a concern for all of us.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Lesley Boal, head of public protection for Police Scotland’s Specialist Crime Division, said: “The National Child Abuse Investigation Unit will deliver an enhanced specialist response that will support our 14 local policing divisions.”

In Scotland, allegations of historical abuse have been made by former care home residents from Nazareth House in Aberdeen, Roman Catholic Fort Augustus School on the banks of Loch Ness and Larchgrove boys home in Glasgow.

A 2007 report, by Tom Shaw, a former chief inspector of education and training in Northern Ireland, estimated around 1,000 children were abused in Scots care homes from 1950 to 1995.

The inquiry is also expected to examine allegations involving the late Conservative MP, Nicholas Fairbairn.

 

Scottish Express, November 17th, 2014
Siobhan McFadyen, ‘Police flooded by child sex abuse allegations’

AS MANY as 400 child sex abuse cases are reported to Police Scotland each month, it was revealed yesterday.

Now campaigners are warning the number of children at risk is of “grave concern”, as shock new figures reveal the true extent of sexual exploitation and internet sex crime involving minors.

Between 2011 and September 2014, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre con-firmed it reported 10,434 cases of suspected child sex abuse to authorities.

Investigation In 2012, the number of individual leads passed on to police was 1,927.

That had increased to 4,875 in the following year.

In the first nine months of 2014, 2519 cases were notified to each of Scotland’s 14 local policing divisions.

Lucy Morton, manager of the NSPCC’s Glasgow service centre, is worried about the rise in the amount of reported cases, insisting more has to be done to take children’s complaints seriously.

She said: “The large number of children at risk of sexual exploitation is a matter of grave concern.

“Children who are abused or sexually exploited need to be listened to, believed and supported.” The Scottish Government is getting ready to launch a far-reaching inquiry into sexual exploitation following a report published by the charity Children in Scotland.

It concluded that the country lacks a “confident and competent workforce for protecting children”.

The investigation, which is yet to find a chairman, is expected to look into allegations of historical abuse at the former Roman Catholic Fort Augustus School on the banks of Loch Ness, Nazareth House in Aberdeen, and Larchgrove boys’ home in Glasgow. The inquiry will also turn its attention to allegations involving the Conservative MP, and one time solicitor-general for Scotland, Nicholas Fairbairn, who died in 1995.

But there are fears not enough resources will be available to help police stem the problem.

Last month, Police Scotland announced it is setting up a National Child Abuse Investigation Unit to gather expert intelligence.

But Brian Docherty, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, warned the sheer numbers facing the special task force could have a serious impact on frontline services.

He said: “Resources have to come from somewhere and if that’s going to have to come from 24/7 response police, it is a concern for all of us.”

However, Detective Chief Superintendent Lesley Boal, public protection lead for Police Scotland’s Specialist Crime Division, insisted the new unit will protect vulnerable youngsters.

Priority “The National Child Abuse Investigation Unit (NCAIU) will deliver an enhanced specialist response that will support our 14 local policing divisions and interagency child protection structures by providing dedicated specialist investigative resources who will lead and/or provide assistance during child abuse investigations.

“Protecting children is a priority and the NCAIU will play a critical role in helping us achieve that,” she said.

Scottish Daily Mail, November 20th, 2014
Graham Grant, ‘POLICE PROBE ‘MAGIC CIRCLE’ CHILD SEX RING; Second victim comes forward as 10 officers investigate paedophile abuse allegations involving Scottish MP and leading legal figures Police to quiz three more in Fairbairn abuse claims’

POLICE are investigating claims of a paedophile ring that included a former senior ally of Margaret Thatcher, after a second victim came forward with fresh allegations.

As the Scottish Daily Mail revealed earlier this year, Susie Henderson claims she was raped by the late Tory MP Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, an ex-Solicitor General, when she was just four.

Miss Henderson is the daughter of Fairbairn’s friend Robert Henderson, QC, who she says also systematically abused her when she was a child.

As a result of our disclosures, a major Police Scotland investigation comprising a team of ten detectives has been set up, and the Mail has learned a second victim has come forward following Miss Henderson’s revelations.

It is also understood that detectives are considering serious allegations made against three living prominent lawyers as part of the inquiry.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Henderson was a pivotal figure in a major legal scandal when he claimed a so-called ‘magic One circle’ of judges, sheriffs and advocates were conspiring to ensure that homosexual criminals were given soft-touch treatment by the courts.

The latest disclosures come as the UK Government prepares to launch a public inquiry into historic child sexual abuse, heaping pressure on the Scottish Government to follow suit.

A source close to the probe said yesterday: ‘We’re talking about events mainly spanning a period from 44 to about 35 years ago.

‘There is not going to be any forensic evidence, and any other evidence that supports the allegations is going to be difficult to attribute to any individual.

‘That doesn’t mean that what is discovered might not form an important part of an inquiry and influence legislation in the future. The information will not be gathered only to be discarded.’ It is understood that Miss Henderson has identified at least three prominent Establishment figures who are still alive as being among her abusers. Detectives are gathering as much information as possible so the allegations can be put to them.

Following our revelations in August, Miss Henderson spoke to detectives and made a detailed statement about her childhood abuse.

The Mail has learned that a second victim made contact with the team a few weeks ago and has made a statement, understood to relate principally to Henderson. These allegations are also now under close scrutiny.

Last night Miss Henderson, who waived her anonymity to speak exclusively to the Mail, said that she would not be commenting upon any developments at this stage.

Police Scotland has not to date invited other victims to come forward, nor set up a dedicated contact point for anyone with relevant information. Anyone wishing to contact detectives is advised to call Police Scotland’s non-emergency 101 number.

The experience of police forces in England which dealt with the paedophilia allegations made against Jimmy Savile has influenced Police Scotland’s procedure.

A well-placed source confirmed that the Savile experience had highlighted the fact that even when a suspect was dead, it had been shown to be important to be receptive to the stories of other victims, should they emerge, and to investigate thoroughly any living accomplices.

It remains to be seen if any prosecutions will be launched in Scotland in relation to the Fairbairn and Henderson claims, but investigators are realistic about the difficulties they face.

Miss Henderson, 49, told the Mail she had been four when she was first raped by her father and by Fairbairn, and that her father had allowed Fairbairn to abuse his daughter and had been present at times when he sexually assaulted her.

She also recalled that her father, a former Tory parliamentary candidate as well as Scotland’s most flamboyant QC in the 1980s, had taken her to the homes of other friends and Establishment figures and had allowed them to sexually abuse her.

Fairbairn died in 1995 at the age of 61, while Henderson, who was never charged, died aged 75 in 2012.

Miss Henderson first made her allegations against Fairbairn and her father under the alias of Julie X in 2000 but after an abortive police investigation no charges were brought. The initial probe was halted after evidence was mislaid.

Fairbairn was Solicitor General for Scotland and MP for Kinross and Western Perthshire. He was praised by Mrs Thatcher for his ‘loyal support’ and became a close ally.

The allegations come after an official inquiry was ordered into claims of historic child sex abuse by a Westminster paedophile ring.

Miss Henderson’s allegations are likely to fuel calls for a similar inquiry by the Scottish Government, which has not been ruled out by ministers.

Last night Police Scotland confirmed that a ‘live investigation is ongoing’ but said ‘it would be inappropriate to comment further.’ A spokesman said: ‘Anyone with information on child sexual abuse is asked to contact Police Scotland through 101.’

WAS MY SON A PAEDOPHILE VICTIM?

A SCHOOLBOY murdered 33 years ago may have been abducted by a VIP paedophile ring which was covered up by police, his father claimed yesterday.

Retired magistrate Vishambar Mehrotra accused Scotland Yard of failing to investigate after a male prostitute told him his son Vishal, 8, had been taken to the notorious Elm Guest House which has been linked to child abuse.

Vishal vanished on his way home to Putney, South-West London, after a trip to watch the royal wedding celebrations in 1981. It was almost a year before his remains were found in a West Sussex woodland. Four months later, police raided Elm Guest House in Barnes. Mr Mehrotra, 69, told the Daily Telegraph how soon afterwards he was contacted by a young male prostitute.

Mr Mehrotra said: ‘He told me he believed Vishal may have been taken by paedophiles in the Elm Guest House. He talked about judges and politicians who were abusing little boys.

‘I recorded the whole 15-minute conversation and took it to police. But they just pooh-poohed it.’


Be very sceptical about online communications laws which protect the powerful – social media and the right to offend

Today the UK Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, clarified that what he called ‘a baying cyber-mob’ could face up to two years in jail under new laws. This refers to proposed amendments to the 1988 Malicious Communications Act, to quadruple the maximum sentence. Already, as modified in 2001 (modifications indicated), the law defines the following offence:

1. Offence of sending letters etc. with intent to cause distress or anxiety

Any person who sends to another person—

(a)a [F1 letter, electronic communication or article of any description] which conveys—

(i)a message which is indecent or grossly offensive;

(ii)a threat; or

(iii)information which is false and known or believed to be false by the sender; or

(b)any [F2 article or electronic communication] which is, in whole or part, of an indecent or grossly offensive nature,

is guilty of an offence if his purpose, or one of his purposes, in sending it is that it should, so far as falling within paragraph (a) or (b) above, cause distress or anxiety to the recipient or to any other person to whom he intends that it or its contents or nature should be communicated.
(2)A person is not guilty of an offence by virtue of subsection (1)(a)(ii) above if he shows—

(a)that the threat was used to reinforce a demand [F3 made by him on reasonable grounds]; and

(b)that he believed [F4, and had reasonable grounds for believing,] that the use of the threat was a proper means of reinforcing the demand.

[F5 (2A)In this section “electronic communication” includes—

(a)any oral or other communication by means of a telecommunication system (within the meaning of the Telecommunications Act 1984 (c. 12)); and

(b)any communication (however sent) that is in electronic form.]

(3)In this section references to sending include references to delivering [F6 or transmitting] and to causing to be sent [F7, delivered or transmitted] and “sender” shall be construed accordingly.

(4)A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on summary conviction to [F8 imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both].

Under the new amendments, the maximum sentence would be two years.

Direct physical or other threats are indeed a worrying phenomenon of social media, as are any threats to politicians or others in public life, and I have no problem with these being criminalised. But it is clear that this law goes much further than that. In particular, the terms ‘indecent’ and ‘grossly offensive’ are very nebulous, and could be used in highly censorious ways, as I will attempt to demonstrate presently.

Amongst those cited in support of Grayling’s laws are former Conservative MP Edwina Currie and Labour MP Stella Creasy. A 33-year old man, Peter Nunn, received an 18-month sentence for abusive Twitter messages against Creasy. Yet Creasy’s rank hypocrisy was amply demonstrated when challenged by myself and various others some weeks ago to condemn a case where violence was not merely threatened but actually carried out, in a frenzied attack against Respect MP George Galloway by Neil Masterson, who appears to be a neo-fascist supporter of the Israeli government. The 60-year old Galloway was leaped on in a frenzied manner by the attacker, and suffered a broken jaw, suspected broken rib and severe bruising to the head and face through the attack. There were a shocking number of people posting online in many places to say Galloway deserved it.

Just a few prominent commentators made an issue of this. Peter Oborne, writing in the Telegraph, drew attention to the fact that no political party leader, nor the Speaker of the House of Commons, had condemned this attack on Galloway, which Oborne called ‘beyond doubt an attack on British democracy itself’. He added:

Had an MP been attacked by some pro-Palestinian fanatic for his support of Israel, I guess there would have been a national outcry and rightly so. Why then the silence from the mainstream establishment following this latest outrageous assault on a British politician?

Times journalist Hugo Rifkind, no political supporter of Galloway, tweeted on 31/8 ‘What happened to @georgegalloway shouldn’t happen to any politician in this country. Horrifying. Hope he’s okay.’

Amongst the responses were one by @77annfield, who said ‘any physical attack is wrong but it was his personality that brought it on’ (i.e. he basically deserved it), a few days later by an @ElectroPig who said ‘It shouldn’t happen to an HONEST politician who actually gives a damn. The rest of the bastards? #FineByMe’.

No UK party leader nor prominent politician condemned this attack on a fellow MP. Can we presume that Creasy thinks physical assault is OK, or at least not much of an issue, when it is against a political opponent or someone she doesn’t like? I am quite sure that if Creasy had suffered such an attack, and had her jaw and ribs broken, Galloway would have wholeheartedly condemned it.

Edwina Currie is currently the subject of various scrutiny for her role in appointing Jimmy Savile to a taskforce to run Broadmoor prison,, where he was involved in widespread sexual abuse, and also for the fact that she knew about the paedophile activities of late Conservative MP Peter Morrison, but appeared to do nothing about it until she could use it in diaries she had to sell. She said on the subject of Grayling’s proposals:

Most people know the difference between saying something nice and saying something nasty, saying something to support, which is wonderful when you get that on Twitter, and saying something to wound which is very cruel and very offensive.

it should not be surprising if Currie only wants ‘nice’ things said about her, considering her record. But the freedom to say things which are cruel, very offensive, and may be designed to wound, is fundamental in a democracy, I would say, however much Currie may not wish it to be. I worry about the implications of this law more widely to be possibilities of political dissent and satire in an age in which electronic communications and social media play a more prominent role than ever.

With this in mind, I would strongly recommend watching the two part 1994 BBC series written and presented by Kenneth Baker (now Lord Baker), From Walpole’s Bottom to Major’s Underpants, tracing the history of the political cartoon.

The image below, produced anonymously in 1740, refers to Robert Walpole, Prime Minister from 1721 to 1742.

Walpole's bottom

This dates from 1797, and is by Richard Newton, showing Pope Pius VI kissing the bare bottom of Napoléon Bonaparte.

Newton on Pope Pius VI and Napoleon

More recently, this image from 1967, drawn by Gerald Scarfe for Private Eye, shows Harold Wilson pulling down the back of Lindon Baines Johnson’s trousers and pants, as a comment on the Vietnam War; the original image actually had Wilson’s tongue up Johnson’s bottom, but then-editor Richard Ingrams thought this was too much.

Wilson and Johnson

This 1988 image, Mirth and Girth by then School or Art Institute of Chicago student David K. Nelson Jr, is of former Chicago major Harold Washington. This picture was confiscated by Chicago police, though Nelson later won a federal lawsuit against the city on the grounds of the confiscation and damage to his picture.

Mirth and Girth

This from 2006, by cartoonist Latuff, shows fundamentalist pro-Israel zealot Alan Dershowitz masturbating over the sight of carnage in Lebanon brought about through Israeli military action.

Dershowitz masturbating

This cartoon from Martin Rowson from 2007 at the time of Tony Blair’s resignation as Prime Minister, hardly hides its ‘fuck off and die’ message.

Rowson on Blair

And here, from 2012, is a Steve Bell cartoon portraying Angela Merkel as a dominatrix of Europe.

Merkel dominatrix

Other example would include a bare-breasted Margaret Thatcher on Spitting Image (which I have been unable to find to post here), and countless other images from that programme (look at the treatment of Cecil Parkinson, David Mellor or Sarah Ferguson, for example, after all were embroiled in sex scandals).

All of these could be more than plausibly described as ‘indecent’ (except perhaps the Rowson cartoon) and ‘grossly offensive’. They all appeared in mainstream publications, but what would happen if a cartoonist posted them online, and tweeted them, perhaps with the hashtag of their subjects included? If they would be liable for prosecution and possibly a two-year prison sentence, this would be an extremely worrying development indeed.

I have seen and experienced intimidation online by other pro-Israeli neo-fascists, who spread messages of sometimes violent hatred. Some students have been revealed to have been paid by the Israeli government to act as propagandists, and I would imagine some of the people I have encountered are amongst these. I cannot imagine these laws being used against them (and certainly have not heard of such a case), though in the future I could certainly imagined them being used to intimidate pro-Palestinian campaigners, by branding various views they might express (such as, for example, that the foundation of the state of Israel involved the dispossession and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and cannot be accepted as legitimate) as ‘anti-semitic’, and as such constituting quasi-hate crimes against those to whom they are addressed. In neither of these cases is criminalisation appropriate.

In the UK, there is no written constitution as such, and thus no equivalent of the First Amendment to protect free speech. Many on both the left and the right would like to restrict the range of opinions capable of being expressed, at least through media they do not control (such as parts of the internet, as opposed to broadcast media over which the state has a monopoly or a press with whose owners successive Prime Ministers have an unhealthy relationship). But I believe very fundamentally in the right to the widest type of free speech when there is not a direct threat or incitement to something which is already a criminal act. And this would include views or statements which some will interpret as sexist, racist, anti-semitic, etc., or even a belief that terrible things should happen to someone, so long as this is not a direct incitement.

I generally block anyone on Twitter who says that anyone deserves to be hanged, to be raped in prison, or otherwise to be beaten up or mutilated – as often wished upon in the case of child abusers – or those who express approval for vigilantes or gangs thereof (including, for example, the female vigilante gangs in India). To my mind, those who do or wish such things are become little better than the abusers themselves. But I still do not believe at all that they should be criminalised for what they say.

In June, together with a group of others, I was involved in a Twitter campaign to get various MPs to add their names to those calling for a public inquiry into organised child abuse. As I discussed in a post I published on the eve of Simon Danczuk’s appearance before the Home Affairs Select Committee (which moved the campaign into another gear), I did not feel the persistent hectoring approach taken by some (and encouraged in that respect by Exaro News) was necessarily very productive. However, the campaign as a whole did undoubtedly result in many more MPs adding their names than would have otherwise been the case, and this played a fundamental part in Home Secretary Theresa May’s agreeing to the inquiry. A few people, including Labour MP Eric Joyce, and for a while former Conservative MP Mark Reckless, complained that this amounted to ‘online bullying’ (a refrain also taken up by some journalistic opponents of an inquiry, and doubtless privately by many other politicians). I would be very worried that in the future such politicians could threaten Twitter activists with this law to dissuade them from running such a campaign. The same would apply to Edwina Currie and her condescending and arrogant approach to questions which are put to her concerning abuse, or to numerous other politicians. Examples of these might be Harriet Harman MP, who is naturally not going to be happy with numerous tweeters reminding her of her earlier activities which served to help the Paedophile Information Exchange and their ideologies, or Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf, proposed chair of the inquiry, who has recently deleted her Twitter account after a period which has seen many tweets asking her questions about the nature of her personal and professional connections to various people themselves likely to come under scrutiny as part of the inquiry.

Be very distrustful of any laws, or any expansion of sentences linked to a law, which receive support first and foremost from politicians or others in power looking to criminalise ordinary people who attack them (when not in a manner actually constituting obviously criminal attack, as with Galloway). With more and more revelations coming to light about politicians, abuse and the corruption of power, there will be many angry people, some of whose statements to politicians on social media may unsurprisingly be intemperate. Do not let those politicians get away with criminalising their critics. So long as there are no direct threats involved, members of the public in a democracy should be free to be as harsh and offensive to politicians as they choose.

But I would ask whether the following hypothetical tweets would lead to two-year jail sentences against those who sent them?

@JimmySavile You are a vile abuser of children and necrophiliac protected at high levels of government

@PeterRighton Your proposed childcare reforms will make it easier for you to rape boys in homes

@PatriciaHewitt You submitted document to government saying child abuse does no harm, paedo defender

@PeterMorrison Did you miss the division bell because you were too busy seeking out adolescents in public toilets?

@CyrilSmith You are a hideous, obese and arrogant ass whose jokey exterior masks boy-raping scum


Peter Morrison and the cover-up in the Tory Party – fully updated

[This post has now been superseded by an updated version – please click onto that to see the most recent information on Morrison as well]

In Edwina Currie’s diary entry for July 24th, 1990, she wrote the following:

One appointment in the recent reshuffle has attracted a lot of gossip and could be very dangerous: Peter Morrison has become the PM’s PPS. Now he’s what they call ‘a noted pederast’, with a liking for young boys; he admitted as much to Norman Tebbit when he became deputy chairman of the party, but added, ‘However, I’m very discreet’ – and he must be! She either knows and is taking a chance, or doesn’t; either way it is a really dumb move. Teresa Gorman told me this evening (in a taxi coming back from a drinks party at the BBC) that she inherited Morrison’s (woman) agent, who claimed to have been offered money to keep quiet about his activities. It scares me, as all the press know, and as we get closer to the election someone is going to make trouble, very close to her indeed. (Edwina Currie, Diaries 1987-1992 (London: Little, Brown, 2002), p. 195)

Currie Diaries

The agent in question was Frances Mowatt. A 192 search reveals that there is now a Frances Mowatt, aged 65+, living in Billericay in Essex, Teresa Gorman’s old constituency.

The following are the recollections of Grahame Nicholls, who ran the Chester Trades Council (Morrison was the MP for Chester from 1974 to 1992), who wrote:

After the 1987 general election, around 1990, I attended a meeting of Chester Labour party where we were informed by the agent, Christine Russell, that Peter Morrison would not be standing in 1992. He had been caught in the toilets at Crewe station with a 15-year-old boy. A deal was struck between Labour, the local Tories, the local press and the police that if he stood down at the next election the matter would go no further. Chester finished up with Gyles Brandreth and Morrison walked away scot-free. I thought you might be interested. (cited in ‘Simon Hoggart’s week’, The Guardian, November 16th, 2012)

Sir Peter Morrison (1944-1995) was known, according to an obituary by Patrick Cosgrove, as a right winger who disliked immigration, supported the return of capital punishment, and wished to introduce vouchers for education. He was from a privileged political family; his father, born John Morrison, became Lord Margadale, the squire of Fonthill, led the campaign to ensure Alec Douglas-Home became Prime Minister in 1963, and predicted Thatcher’s ultimate accession to the leadership (Sue Reid, ‘Did Maggie know her closest aide was preying on under-age boys?’, Daily Mail, July 12th, 2014, updated July 16th). The young Peter attended Eton College, then Keble College, Oxford. Entering the House of Commons in 1974 at the age of 29, during the first Thatcher government he occupied a series of non-cabinet ministerial positions, then became Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party in 1986, replacing Jeffrey Archer after his resignation, and working under Chairman Norman Tebbitt. His sister, Dame Mary Morrison, became a lady-in-waiting to the Queen (Gyles Brandreth, ”I was abused by my choir master’: In a brave and haunting account, TV star and ex MP Gyles Brandreth reveals the years of abuse he endured at prep school’, Daily Mail, September 12th, 2014).

Morrison was close to Thatcher from when he entered Parliament (see Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (London: Harper Collins, 1993), p. 837), working for her 1975 leadership campaign and, after she became Prime Minister, putting her and Denis up for holiday in the 73 000 acre estate owned by his father in Islay, where games of charades were played (Jonathan Aitken, Margaret Thatcher: Power and Personality (London: Bloomsbury, 2013), pp. 158-160, 279-281). After being appointed as Thatcher’s Parliamentary Private Secretary in 1990, he ran what is generally believed to have been a complacent and lacklustre leadership campaign for her when she was challenged by Michael Heseltine; as is well-known, she did not gain enough votes to prevent a second ballot, and then resigned soon afterwards. Morrison was known to some others as ‘a toff’s toff’, who ‘made it very clear from the outset that he did not intend spending time talking to the plebs’ on the backbenches (Stephen Norris, Changing Trains: An Autobiography (London: Hutchinson, 1996), p. 149).

Jonathan Aitken, a close friend of Morrison’s, would later write the following about him:

I knew Peter Morrison as well as anyone in the House. We had been school friends. He was the best man at my wedding in St Margaret’s, Westminster. We shared many private and political confidences. So I knew the immense pressures he was facing at the time when he was suddenly overwhelmed with the greatest new burden imaginable – running the Prime Minister’s election campaign.

Sixteen years in the House of Commons had treated Peter badly. His health had deteriorated. He had an alcohol problem that made him ill, overweight and prone to take long afternoon naps. In the autumn of 1990 he became embroiled in a police investigation into aspects of his personal life. The allegations against him were never substantiated, and the inquiry was subsequently dropped. But at the time of the leadership election, Peter was worried, distracted and unable to concentrate. (Aitken, Margaret Thatcher, pp. 625-626).

An important article by Nick Davies published in The Guardian in April 1998, also made the following claim:

Fleet Street routinely nurtures a crop of untold stories about powerful abusers who have evaded justice. One such is Peter Morrison, formerly the MP for Chester and the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party. Ten years ago, Chris House, the veteran crime reporter for the Sunday Mirror, twice received tip-offs from police officers who said that Morrison had been caught cottaging in public toilets with underaged boys and had been released with a caution. A less powerful man, the officers complained, would have been charged with gross indecency or an offence against children.

At the time, Chris House confronted Morrison, who used libel laws to block publication of the story. Now, Morrison is dead and cannot sue. Police last week confirmed that he had been picked up twice and never brought to trial. They added that there appeared to be no trace of either incident in any of the official records. (Nick Davies, ‘The sheer scale of child sexual abuse in Britain’, The Guardian, April 1998).

Recently, the former editor of the Sunday Mirror, Paul Connew, has revealed how he was told in 1994 by House of the stories concerning Morrison. Connew has revealed that it was a police officer who was the source, dismayed by the lack of action after Morrison had been arrested for sexually molesting under-age boys; the officer revealed how Morrison had attempted to ‘pull rank’ by demanding to see the most senior officer, and announcing proudly who he was. All the paperwork relating to the arrest simply ‘disappeared’. Connew sent a reporter to confront Morrison at his Chester home, but Morrison dismissed the story and made legal threats, which the paper was not able to counter without naming their police source, which was impossible. The story ultimately died, though Connew was able to establish that in the senior echelons of Scotland Yard, Morrison’s arrest and proclivities were no secret; he had been arrested on multiple occasions in both Chester and London, always hushed up (Paul Connew, ‘Commentary: how paedophile Peter Morrison escaped exposure’, Exaro News, September 26th, 2014).

In an article in the Daily Mail published in October 2012, former Conservative MP and leader of the Welsh Tories Rod Richards claimed that Morrison (and another Tory grandee who has not been named) was connected to the terrible abuse scandals in Bryn Estyn and Bryn Alyn children’s homes, in North Wales, having seen documents which identified both politicians as frequent, unexplained visitors. Richards also claimed that William Hague, who was Secretary of State for Wales from 1995 to 1997, and who set up the North Wales Child Abuse inquiry, would have seen the files on Morrison, but sources close to Hague denied that he had seen any such material. A former resident of the Bryn Estyn care home testified to Channel 4 News, testified to seeing Morrison arrive there on five occasions, and may have driven off with a boy in his car (‘Exclusive: Eyewitness ‘saw Thatcher aide take boys to abuse”, Channel 4 News, November 6th, 2012; see also Reid, ‘Did Maggie know her closest aide was preying on under-age boys?’).

Morrison’s successor as MP for Chester, Gyles Brandreth, wrote that he and his wife Michelle had been told on the doorstep repeatedly and emphatically that the MP was ‘a disgusting pervert’ (David Holmes, ‘Former Chester MP Peter Morrison implicated in child abuse inquiry’, Chester Chronicle, November 8th, 2012). More recently, in a build-up to the launch of a new version of Brandreth’s diaries, which suggested major new revelations but delivered little, Brandreth merely added that when canvassing in 1991 ‘we were told that Morrison was a monster who interfered with children’, and added:

At the time, I don’t think I believed it. People do say terrible things without justification. Beyond the fact that his drinking made Morrison appear unprepossessing — central casting’s idea of what a toff paedophile might look like — no one was offering anything to substantiate their slurs.

At the time, I never heard anything untoward about Morrison from the police or from the local journalists — and I gossiped a good deal with them. Four years after stepping down, Peter Morrison was dead of a heart attack.

What did Mrs Thatcher know of his alleged dark side? When I talked to her about him, I felt she had the measure of the man. She knew he was homosexual, and she knew he was a drinker. She was fond of him, clearly, but told me that he had ruined himself through ‘self-indulgence’ — much as Reginald Maudling had done a generation earlier. (Brandreth, ”I was abused by my choir master’)

Brandreth did however crucially mention that William Hague had told him in 1996 that Morrison’s name might feature in connection with the inquiry into child abuse in North Wales, specifically in connection to Bryn Estyn, thus corroborating Rod Richard’s account, though Brandreth also pointed out that the Waterhouse report made no mention of Morrison (Brandreth, ”I was abused by my choir master’).

The journalist Simon Heffer has also said that rumours about Morrison were circulating in Tory top ranks as early as 1988, whilst Tebbit has admitted hearing rumours ‘through unusual channels’, then confronting Morrison about them, which he denied (Reid, ‘Did Maggie know her closest aide was preying on under-age boys?’); Tebbit, who has suggested that a cover-up of high-level abuse by politicians is likely, now concedes that he had been ‘naive’ in believing Morrison, and rejected Currie’s account of Morrison having admitted his offences to him (James Lyons, ‘Norman Tebbit admits he heard rumours top Tory was paedophile a decade before truth revealed’, Daily Mirror, July 8th, 2014). The novelist Frederick Forsyth, on the other hand, described Morrison as someone ‘who should have been exposed many years ago’, as well as being a politically incompetent alcoholic; however, as far as his sexual offences were concerned, Forsyth claimed Thatcher ‘suspected nothing’ (Frederick Forsyth, ‘Debauched and dissolute fool’, The Express, July 18th, 2014)

Recently, Thatcher’s bodyguard Barry Strevens has come forward to claim that he told Thatcher directly about allegations of Morrison holding sex parties at his house with underage boys (one aged 15), when told about this by a senior Cheshire Police Officer. (see Lynn Davidson, ‘Exclusive: Thatcher’s Bodyguard on Abuse Claims’, The Sun on Sunday, July 27th, 2014 (article reproduced in comments below); and Matt Chorley, ‘Barry Strevens says he told Iron Lady about rumours about Peter Morrison’, Mail on Sunday, July 27th, 2014; see also Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith, ‘Thatcher ‘was warned of Tory child sex party claims’’, The Independent, July 27th, 2014). Strevens claimed to have had a meeting with the PM and her PPS Archie Hamilton (now Baron Hamilton of Epsom), which he had requested immediately. Strevens had claimed this was right after the Jeffrey Archer scandal; Archer resigned in October 1986, whilst Hamilton was Thatcher’s PPS from 1987 to 1988. Strevens recalls Thatcher simply thanking him and that was the last he heard of it. He said:

I wouldn’t say she (Lady Thatcher) was naive but I would say she would not have thought people around her would be like that.

I am sure he would have given her assurances about the rumours as otherwise she wouldn’t have given him the job.

The accounts by Nicholls and Strevens make clear that the allegations – concerning in one case a 15-year old boy – are more serious than said in a later rendition by Currie, which said merely that Morrison ‘had sex with 16-year-old boys when the age of consent was 21’ (cited in Andrew Sparrow, ‘Politics Live’, The Guardian, October 24th, 2012). A further allegation was made by Peter McKelvie, who led the investigation in 1992 into Peter Righton in an open letter to Peter Mandelson. A British Aerospace Trade Union Convenor had said one member had alleged that Morrison raped him, and he took this to the union’s National HQ, who put it to the Labour front bench. A Labour minister reported back to say that the Tory Front Bench had been approached. This was confirmed, according to McKelvie, by second and third sources, and also alleged that the conversations first took place at a 1993-94 Xmas Party hosted by the Welsh Parliamentary Labour Party. Mandelson has not yet replied.

In the 1997 election, Christine Russell herself displaced Brandreth and she served as Labour MP until 2010, when she was unseated by Conservative MP Stephen Mosely (see entry for ‘Christine Russell’ at politics.co.uk).

In 2013, following the publication of Hoggart’s article citing Nicholls, an online petition was put together calling for an inquiry, and submittted to then Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State Christopher Grayling. Russell denounced the ‘shoddy journalism’ of the Guardian piece, recalled rumours of Morrison’s preferences, but said there was no hint of illegal acts; she did not however rule out an agreement that Morrison should stand down (‘Campaigners ask for inquiry over ex-Chester MP’, Chester Chronicle, January 3rd, 2013).

Further questions now need to be asked of Lord Tebbit, Teresa Gorman, Edwina Currie, William Hague and other senior Tories, not to mention Christine Russell and others in Chester Labour Party, of what was known and apparently covered-up about Morrison. The identity of Morrison and Gorman’s agent (I could find no mention of a name in Gorman’s autobiography No, Prime Minister! (London: John Blake, 2001)) must be established [Edit: this has now been established as Frances Mowatt – see above] and she should be questioned if still around [Which she is, and living in Billericay, according to 192 directory – see above]. If money was involved, as Currie alleges was told to her by Gorman, then the seriousness of the allegations is grave. Just yesterday (October 5th), Currie arrogantly and haughtily declared on Twitter:


@MaraudingWinger @DrTeckKhong @MailOnline I’ve been nicer than many deserve! But I take the consequences, & I do not hide behind anonymity.

@jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel @woodmouse1 I heard only tiny bits of gossip. The guy is dead, go pursue living perps. You’ll do more good

@woodmouse1 @jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel The present has its own demands. We learn from the past, we don’t get obsessive about it. Get real.

@ian_pace @woodmouse1 @jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel And there are abusers in action right now, while you chase famous dead men.

@ian_pace @woodmouse1 @jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel I’d rather police time be spent now on today’s criminals – detect, stop and jail them

@jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel @woodmouse1 Flattered that you think I know so much. Sorry but that’s not so. If you do, go to police

@ian_pace @woodmouse1 @jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel They want current crimes to be dealt with by police, too. And they may need other help.

@ian_pace @woodmouse1 @jackaranian @Sunnyclaribel Of course. But right now, youngsters are being hurt and abused. That matters.

Considering Currie also rubber-stamped the appointment of Jimmy Savile at Broadmoor (Rowena Mason, ‘Edwina Currie voices regrets over Jimmy Savile after inquiry criticism’, The Guardian, Thursday June 26th, 2014) and clearly knew information about Morrison, including claims of bribery of a political agent, known to at least one other MP (Gorman) as well as herself, it should not be surprising that she would want claims of abuse involving dead figures to be sidelined.

This story relates to political corruption at the highest level, with a senior politician near the top of his party involved in the abuse of children, and clear evidence that various others knew about this, but did nothing, and strong suggestions that politicians and police officers conspired to keep this covered up, even using hush money, in such a way which ensured that Morrison was free to keep abusing others until his death. This story must not be allowed to die this time round.


Fiona Woolf, Leon Brittan and William Hague – conflicts of interest

On Friday, September 5th, 2014, the Lord Mayor of London, Fiona Woolf, was appointed by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to be chair of the forthcoming inquiry into child abuse. Within a few hours of the announcement, Twitter was full of information concerning Woolf’s closeness to former home secretary Leon Brittan (now Lord Brittan), in particular the fact that the two worked closely together for the lobbying organisation TheCityUK, for which Woolf is the President of the Advisory Council, on which Brittan sits (here I wish to give credit to Daniel De Simone, who was I believe the first person to find this connection, which was subsequently tweeted by various people), and also the fact that she is one of just five patrons of the Association of Women Solicitors, another of whom is Labour Deputy Leader Harriet Harman.

Both of these individuals are extremely important in terms of potential areas of investigation for the inquiry: Brittan was a Home Office Minister of State from 1979 to 1981, during which time the Paedophile Information Exchange were running their operation from the Home Office and receiving funding from them (see also the article in the Mail by Guy Adams from July on this subject), and was Home Secretary from 1983 to 1985, during which time he received a series of dossiers from Tory MP relating to networks of high profile abusers and others. These have mysteriously gone missing (amid suspicions that they may have been destroyed) and an inquiry is underway run by Peter Wanless, chair of the NSPCC, as to what happened to them (see here for the statement by Theresa May on July 7th, and also here and here . As regards Harman, she was legal officer for the National Council for Civil Liberties during a period when they were affiliated to the Paedophile Information Exchange, had a PIE member as their gay rights officer, and even advertised in PIE’s journal Magpie (there are many more articles which have been published on this subject during the course of the year, easily found through Googling – especially important are those by Guy Adams and Martin Beckford; see also the index of my various pieces of documentary evidence on NCCL and PIE).

The Times detailed the connection between Woolf and Brittan on Saturday, September 6th (not available online, reproduced below), then on Sunday, September 7th, an article by Martin Beckford and Simon Murphy in the Mail on Sunday provided further information, including that Woolf judges an annual City award scheme alongside Lord Brittan’s wife Diana, that she gave a £50 donation to Brittan’s wife for a charity fun-run, and is a neighbour of Lord and Lady Brittan in the same street.

Following a smattering of other articles questioning all of this, an important piece was published in The Guardian on Tuesday September 9th by the Labour MP for Rochdale Simon Danczuk, who has been at the forefront of the campaign for an inquiry and whose appearance before the Home Affairs Select Committee on July 1st, 2014 was a major catalyst for greater public awareness of the Dickens dossiers handed to Brittan and wider claims of a cover-up, leading to widespread media coverage and the announcement of the inquiry (the further appearance at HASC on July 8th by Home Office Permanent Secretary Mark Sedwill made clear that there were many questions to be asked, and that a previous internal investigation had been far from satisfactory).

Danczuk’s article was sharply critical about the choice of May’s judgement; he clarified that he had spoken to the Home Secretary before the appointment was announced, but could now see that ‘even the most basic of checks would have revealed glaring problems with Woolf that were always going to cause difficulties and ensure victims had no confidence in the process’. Today (Thursday September 11th, 2014), Danczuk tweeted to make clear that he had asked the Leader of the House, William Hague, for a debate about links between Woolf and Brittan. The full Parliamentary question and Hague’s answer can be read here and viewed here at 10:55:28. Danczuk went further than previously in saying that Brittan is ‘alleged to be at the heart of the paedophile scandal and cover-up surrounding Westminster‘. However, Hague merely replied that Woolf ‘is a very distinguished person, well able to conduct this inquiry with the very highest standards of integrity’, etc, so it looks like no such debate is likely to be forthcoming. Woolf herself is currently away on a 10-day lobbying trip to Southern Africa, and has not responded to any of the issues raised about her connections.

This selection process has revealed much about how close-knit are many members of the British establishment, and how questionable it is that some individuals could not be seen to have major conflicts of interest (as with the previous appointment of Baroness Butler-Sloss, whose brother Michael Havers was alleged to have been involved in covering up other investigations in the 1980s).

But it is worth considering who is making the decision not to allow even a debate on this: William Hague. Hague was Brittan’s successor as MP for Richmond, Yorkshire, in 1989, following Brittan’s appointment as a European commissioner. An article from June 15th, 1997, in the Sunday Times (reproduced below) makes clear that Hague was himself appointed as a part-time speechwriter for Geoffrey Howe after having been recommended by Brittan (then working as Chief Secretary to the Treasury when Howe was Chancellor), who had spotted him at a visit to the Oxford Union. Recently released documents from the National Archives make clear that it was only because of Thatcher’s intervention that Hague did not get the job fulltime, as Howe and Brittan wanted. The 1989 article from The Times printed below makes clear, Hague lived in Brittan’s country home in the run up to the Richmond by-election. As a column by Nigel Dempster reproduced below makes clear, Hague also liked to go hill-walking with Brittan. Furthermore, former MP and leader of the Welsh Tories Rod Richard has claimed that the late MP Peter Morrison (PPS to Margaret Thatcher), who was known by several other colleagues to be a ‘pederast’, was involved in the abuse of children in North Wales, and as Welsh Secretary at the time the inquiry was called in 1996, Hague ‘should have seen the evidence’, though this was denied by Hague’s office. Former Tory Party Chairman Norman Tebbit (now Lord Tebbit) has admitted that he heard rumours about Morrison (who was his deputy for a period); Tebbit, to his credit, is one of the few senior Tories who has admitted there likely was a cover-up of high level abuse during the 1980s. A new edition of the diaries of former MP and Morrison’s successor in the constituency of Chester, Gyles Brandreth, Breaking the Cover, is due out on September 18th, and apparently promises more information on Morrison.

Is Hague an impartial judge on this? For there to be faith in the inquiry, there must be no glaring conflicts of interest. And any such conflicts of interest need to be able to be debated openly in Parliament.

[My further thanks to Daniel De Simone for locating and sending the Times and Sunday Times articles, and his amazing work in locating information in general]


The Times
, January 10th, 1989
Peter Davenport, ‘Tory rising star aims for Brittan country’

Mr William Hague the one-time teenage hope of the Conservative Party and now the aspiring successor to Sir Leon Brittan as MP for the rural constituency of Richmond (Yorks), was, literally and politically, making himself at home at the weekend.

He is living at Sir Leon’s country home in Spennithorne, near by, while Britain’s new EEC Commissioner settles into a town house in Brussels. On Saturday Mr Hague, who was selected as prospective parliamentary candidate from 363 applicants, took constituency surgeries.

Was it not being over-confident, even with a 19,567 majority bequeathed by Sir Leon who represented Richmond for five years?

“I am not being presumptuous or taking anything for granted. I just wanted to be as helpful as I can to constituents.”

Mr Hague, whose family runs a soft drinks company in South Yorkshire, is aged 27. He has a schoolboy fresh face and fine blond hair but a liking for “country” sports jackets and cavalry twills a “young fogey”, someone said.

He has been a political “name” for some time. Eleven years ago, at the Conservative Party conference at Blackpool and aged only 16, he delivered a barnstorming speech that had the faithful, including Mrs Margaret Thatcher, on their feet. Here, she enthused, was the future of the party.

Such praise, Mr Hague reflected, could be a double-edge sword. “It has its assets and disadvantages. It was all 11 years ago and I thought then, as I do now, that it was all blown out of proportion.”

He contested a Labour seat in South Yorkshire at the last general election and took some pride in increasing the Conservative vote.

Mr Hague emphasizes that he is taking nothing for granted and will fight the seat as if he had a majority of one.

So far candidates have been selected by Labour, the Democrats, SDP and the Greens.

General election: Mr Leon Brittan (C) 34,995; Mr David Lloyd-Williams (L/All) 15,419; Mr Frank Robson (Lab) 6,737. Majority: 19,576.


Daily Mail
, August 8th, 1995
Nigel Dempster, ‘Hague brings back the Birch’

JUST as cynics were beginning to despair that not very Welsh Secretary William Hague would ever find a woman to share his elation at becoming the youngest Cabinet member, an old flame has re-appeared on the scene.

Wonderboy William (whose idea of fun is to go hillwalking with Sir Leon Brittan) has been stepping out with an old schoolfriend from Wath-upon-Dearne Comprehensive in Yorkshire called Kim Birch.

At 34 she is the same age as the MP for Richmond.

‘William and Kim have had an on-off relationship for the past ten years,’ says a chum. ‘She recently went with him for a short tour of America and some of us did wonder if they would return engaged. But they didn’t.’

When William dated his last girlfriend, Barbara Kyriakou, four years ago (the relationship lasted a year) some sceptics wondered if the liaison could be cannily political – she was, after all, PA to John Major’s then PPS, Sir Graham Bright. Kim, however, has absolutely nothing to do with politics: she is a secretary in a firm of accountants. In which case it must be love.


The Sunday Times
, June 15th, 1997
Michael Crick, ‘Just William?’

SundayTimes 150697 - Michael Crick on William Hague


The Times
, September 6th, 2014.
Frances Gibb and Laura Pitel, ‘London’s lord mayor to chair sex abuse inquiry’

The lord mayor of London, Fiona Woolf, is to be chairwoman of the government’s independent inquiry into historical child sex abuse.

The long-awaited appointment of Mrs Woolf, a leading corporate lawyer, comes after Baroness Butler-Sloss stepped down in July following concerns over potential conflicts of interest arising from the fact that her brother, Lord Havers, was attorney-general at the time of some of the events to be investigated.

Mrs Woolf, a former president of the Law Society and only the second woman mayor of the City of London, is widely liked and respected. However there are concerns about her lack of experience in family or criminal law — although that will be mitigated by the knowledge members of her team have.

It also emerged that she is the President of TheCityUK’s Advisory Council and Lord Brittan, the former home secretary who is likely to be investigated as part of the inquiry, is a member of that council.

Lord Brittan is at the centre of a furore about the way the Home Office handled a dossier on child sex abuse by senior politicians when he was in charge of the department. The dossier was subsequently lost.

A Whitehall source said that the Home Office had approached a series of other candidates with more experience than Mrs Woolf but many had been deterred by the level of public scrutiny faced by Lady Butler-Sloss before her resignation.

Professor Alexis Jay, author of the recent report into abuse in Rotherham, will act as an expert adviser to the panel, said the Home Office, and Ben Emmerson, the leading criminal and human rights QC, will serve as counsel to the inquiry.

Also on Mrs Woolf’s team is Graham Wilmer, a child sexual abuse victim and founder of the Lantern Project, and Barbara Hearn, the former deputy head of the National Children’s Bureau.

The inquiry will examine how the country’s institutions handled their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse over a period of decades.


Peter Righton – His Activities up until the early 1980s

[Updated: I am immensely grateful to Peter McKelvie, Liz Davies, Martin Walkerdine and @Snowfaked (on Twitter) for providing extra information which has helped to fill in gaps in my earlier account]

I do intend at some point to publish a comprehensive account of all that can be ascertained about the life and activities of the sinister figure of Peter Righton, perhaps the most important of all figures in terms of the abuse scandals soon to be investigated by the national inquiry, and believed to have been a serial abuser himself with a great many victims. Both demands of time and also legal constraints do not permit this at present, but for now I wanted to publish some information and sources on Righton’s activities up until the early 1980s. 

Righton was born in June 1926 as Paul Pelham Righton, in Kensington . He grew up in Kent , and attended Ardingly College, West Sussex from 1940 to 1944, where he was a ‘favourite’ for history master and A dormitory housemaster, Denis Henry d’Abedhil Williams. From 1944 to 1948, Righton served in the Royal Artillery, based initially for his six week’s primary training at barracks in Lincoln from April 1944 (Righton, ‘Working with the ‘misfits”, Social Work Today, May 6th, 1985); no further details are known at present other than that his rank upon demobilisation was Lieutenant. By 1948, aged 22, Righton was living in 19 Garway Road, in the Paddington area of London (my thanks to Martin Walkerdine for this information). That year, Righton went to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics, graduating in 1951 (with a second class degree), and receiving his MA in 1955 .

Following graduation, Righton undertook training in the probation service from 1951 to 1952, and served as a Probation Officer in Gray’s, Essex from 1952 to 1955, where he also ran a project to develop reading skills for children with learning difficulties. In January 1956 he began teaching at Gaveston Hall, near Horsham in West Sussex, but was only in this position until July of that year. In Righton’s diaries, he lists boys he abused whilst at Gaveston Hall. The circumstances of his departure are unclear; after leaving he retreated for six months to the Society of Saint Francis, a closed order (all information courtesy of Peter McKelvie).

Righton re-emerged in January 1957 to teach at Cuddesdon College near Oxford. Soon afterwards (in the same year), however he moved to teach English at Redhill, a school for disturbed boys in Maidstone, Kent. Righton had taken a range of vulnerable pupils under his wing, and Mark Thewliss claims he was abused by Righton there from the age of 12. Righton’s diaries list boys he abused at both Cuddesdon and Redhill (source Peter McKelvie; see the Inside Story documentary below for more accounts of Righton’s activities at Redhill). He left Redhill discreetly on April 8th, 1963, resigning his position (source Peter McKelvie) (not 1964 as mistakenly mentioned before). In July 1963, a police investigation began into complaints against Righton of abuse; around time he wrote several potential suicide notes admitting having done harm to boys. However, Righton was able to get the investigation dropped after having lunch with a police inspector (Source McKelvie).

After leaving Redhill Righton worked for two years (1963-65) as a tutor and organiser for the Workers’ Educational Association in Wiltshire; his address was given as North Flat, Marden Grange, Marden, Devizes, Wiltshire.

Page_1

From 1965 onwards, Righton established his influence within the world of social work and child care. He became a tutor in charge of a two-year course for child care officers at Keele University from 1965-68 (see Inside Story below); how and when exactly he had become qualified in this field, are who were his referees, are questions the answer to which remains unclear.
then as. From 1968 to 1971 he was a Senior Lecturer at the National Institute of Social Work, a government-funded educational and research centre. On October 11th 1968, as Paul Pelham Righton, he gave a talk at Shotton Hall, Peterlee, entitled ‘A New Deal for Children: Thoughts on the White Paper ‘Children in Trouble” (Paul Pelham Righton, A new deal for children Reflections on the White Paper ‘Children in trouble’ a paper given at Shotton Hall on 11th October 1968 (Shrewsbury: Shotton Hall Publications, 1968); he also published an article entitled ‘The Need for Training’, F.G. Lennhoff and J.C. Lampen (eds), Learning to Live: A Sketchbook of Residential Work with Children (Shrewsbury: Shotton Hall, 1968), pp. 13-16, which is reproduced on the Online Journal of the International Child and Youth Care Network, Issue 95 (December 2006). In 1969, Righton published an article entitled ‘Social work and scientific concepts’ in Social Work, Vol. 26, p. 3. . He also at some point in the late 1960s started working at North London Polytechnic (now London Metropolitan University), based at Ladbroke House, Highbury Grove, leaving the institution in 1970 (source Liz Davies).

The report by Tom Bateman for the BBC Radio 4 Today earlier this week made clear that as early as 1970, Righton was already credited as giving ‘considerable assistance’ to a Home Office report (Advisory Council on Child Care: Research and Development Committee; Community Homes Project, Second Report (London: Home Office Children’s Department, April 1970). The relevant chapter is printed below.

IMG_2578 IMG_2579 IMG_2580 IMG_2581

Between 1971 and 1974, Righton was a development officer at National Children’s Bureau and head of two-person Children’s Centre (‘The National Children’s Bureau’, Evening Standard, May 12th, 1993)

In October 1971, here listed as a ‘lecturer in residential care’ for the National Institute for Social Work, and ‘director-designate of the centre to be established by the National Children’s Bureau later this year’, Righton addressed a social services conference organized by the County Councils Association and the Association of Municipal Corporations, arguing for integration of social workers with residential home staff, and against too-frequent placing of those with social, physical and mental handicaps in residential homes. He also thought children ‘could be greatly helped in a residential unit’.

Times 291071 - Homes for handicapped become scapegoat for guilt of society (Righton)

In 1972, Righton published ‘Parental and other roles in residential care’, in The Parental Role: Conference Papers (London: National Children’s Bureau, 1972), pp. 13-17 (Peter Righton – Parental and Other Roles in Residential Care). Here he wrote about the  shift during last 25 years away from ‘total substitute care’ towards ‘planned alternative provision’, with child placed in open community with frequent access to their own parents. Righton argued that many still believed that substitute parenting is central role of residential worker, and that the family is good model for a residential unit. He questioned this – saying that it is impossible to provide ‘a relationship of the desirable uniqueness, continuity and intensity in a residential setting’, mentioning that the majority of children in care still have their own parents and maintain some sort of relationship with them. Righton argued that it would cause conflict by having ‘two competing sets of adults’ trying to outdo each other. He preferred to see residential care as ‘alternative caring ‘sui generis’ rather than as substitute family care’. It has been suggested to me by some experts in child care that the substitute parent model helped children feel safe from abuse and mistreatment in care; Righton’s concern to move away from this model may well have been another strategy to facilitate the ability of himself and others to sexually exploit children in residential care.

This same year, Righton also had a letter published in The Listener (June 29th, 1972), in which he expressed his fierce objection to Lord Hailsham’s views on homosexuality (my profound thanks to Daniel de Simone for locating this); Righton would use claims of homophobia more widely to silence critics of his relatively overt exploitation of young boys.

Righton on Lord Hailsham, The Listener 1972

Also in 1972, Righton took part in a published debate with Antony Grey (of the Sexual Law Reform Society and Albany Trust, who would later fund PIE – see articles here and here), and Kevin O’Dowd over the role of therapy. At another time during this year, Righton shared a platform (New Society, Vol. 21 (1972), p. 60) with Keith Joseph, then Secretary of State for Social Services, and who has himself been named as an abuser according to at least one source (Matthew Drake, ‘Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet bigwigs named in Leon Brittan paedo files’, Sunday Mirror, July 24th, 2014)

In January 1973, together with Ronald Bennett, QC, Righton was called to conduct an independent inquiry into allegations of violence by staff against boys in Larchgrove Assessment Centre on the outskirts of Glasgow; the report found that 13 out of 30 allegations were proved and was highly critical of the corporation for allowing conditions inducive to violence to occur; later reports found that John Porteus, a houseparent, had sexually abused boys at Larchgrove in the late 1960s, and others testified to sexual abuse during this time. Righton and Bennett’s report did not deal with sexual abuse, and it was possible for a convicted abuser, Robert William Henderson, to gain a position towards the end of 1973, where he formed ‘an indecent association with a 13-year-old boy’. Glasgow City Council are currently looking for any documentation connected with the case, whilst the council and Scottish government have called upon anyone who suffered abuse there to contact the police; it has been revealed that there are claims that staff of both genders were involved in the abuse of boys at the home (see ‘Notorious paedophile headed Scottish care home inquiry’, Sunday Herald, August 24th, 2014).

Also in 1973, Righton gave the Barnardo’s Annual Lecture (Edward Pilkington, ‘Shadow of the Attic’, The Guardian, June 1st, 1994); the title was ‘A Continuum of Care’, which was published the following year (Peter Righton, A Continuum of Care: The Link between Field and Residential Work (London: Barnardo’s, 1974)). This year, he also published Counselling Homosexuals: A Study (London: Bedford Square Press, 1973).

On March 8th, 1973, Righton gave a talk on ‘Co-operation in child care’, for the British Association of Social Workers Conference at St. Williams’ College, York (Residential Social Work, Vol. 13 (1973), p. 63). In September 1973, he argued that children’s homes were like ‘ghettos’ which ‘stigmatize’, because they are deprived of being part of a normal family. As a remedy of this, Righton believed such homes ‘should be made as open as possible to people in the immediate neighbourhood, and to the families and friends of the children living there’; and ‘Staff and children should be encouraged to go out to meet people and residential schools should take both children needing special substitute care and those needing boarding education’, all of which (not, of course, said by Righton) would ease the access of paedophile predators to them.

 

Times 180973 - Children's homes 'ghettos that stigmatize'

From 1974 to 1982, Righton was Director of Education for the National Council of Social Work (‘In Residence’, Social Work Today, February 4th, 1985)

In 1974, Righton visited Algeria in April, and published ‘Child Care in Algeria’, International Social Work, Vol. 17, No. 4 (October 1974), pp. 51-53. (Peter Righton – Child Care in Algeria). He also gave the David Willis Lecture for the Planned Environment Therapy Trust, at New Barns School, Toddington, Gloucestershire (where he would later become a governor, and which was closed down following a police raid in 1992), published as ‘Planned environment therapy: a reappraisal’, in Association of Workers with Maladjusted Children Journal (1975) (see James S. Atherton, Review of Perspectives on Training for Residential WorkBritish Journal of Social Work, Vol. 8, No. 2 (1988), pp. 227-229). From 1974 to 1982, his address was listed as 48 Barbican Road, Greenford (near Ealing, West London) (source Ealing Local History through Martin Walkerdine). This also became in 1975 the address of the organisation London Friend, which had been founded in 1971 (one of the co-founders was Mike Launder, a social worker activist; another was the well-known writer Jack Babuscio (1937-90), though it is not clear whether Babuscio did not resign before Righton’s involvement) as the counselling wing of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (Rosemary Auchmuty, ‘London’, in George E. Haggerty, John Beynon and Douglas Eisner (eds), Encyclopedia of Lesbian and Gay Histories and Cultures: An Encyclopedia, Vol. 1 (New York: Garland Publishing, 2000) , p. 477), but split from CHE that year 1975 (London Friend, ‘LGB&T milestones – a timeline’)

In October of that year, the Paedophile Information Exchange was founded in Edinburgh by Ian Campbell Dunn and Michael Hanson (Marcello Mega, ‘Paedophile list set up by gay rights leader’, Sunday Times, July 6th, 1997); the group would soon afterwards relocate from Edinburgh to London, and Keith Hose would take over as chair. Righton was part of the group (member number 51, and a member of the Executive Committee, by mid-1976 at the latest (‘It’s the Magnificent Six’, Understanding Paedophilia, Vol. 1, No. 2 (June-July 1976), p. 7), serving as ‘Organiser of prison-hospital visits/general correspondence/PIE befriending’; in May 1977, he stepped down from the committee (at the same time as Hose stepped down), by which time his position was listed as ‘Community Liaison Officer’ (‘Stop Press – Stop Press’, Understanding Paedophilia, Vol. 1, No. 4 (1977), p. 12).

In October 1975, Righton became chair of a working group for the mental health association MIND, with the assistance of the King’s Fund Centre; this led to the publication of Assessment of Children and Their Families: A Report Produced by a MIND Working Party Under the Chairmanship of P. Righton (London; MIND, 1975). MIND also organised for Keith Hose to speak at an event called Mind Out in 1975 (Annette Rawstrone, ‘Paul Farmer of Mind apologises after report that pro-paedophile leader spoke at 1975 event’, Third Sector, July 23rd, 2014). In 1977, London Friend’s sister organisation Cardiff Friend, and the MIND Office in Wales, organised a day seminar entitled ‘New approaches to homosexuality’; speakers were Righton, Michael Launder, and Rachel Beck, co-founder of the then recently established service Lesbian Line (‘Seminar on homosexuality’, Social Work Today, Vol. 9, No. 11 (November 1st, 1977)).

From 1976 to 1985, and especially from 1976 to 1979, Righton published regular articles in Social Work Today, which are all collected here. Of particular note is his article ‘Sex and the residential social worker’, Social Work Today, February 15th, 1977, thus written during Righton’s period on the PIE Executive Committee. Citing a 1975 article by then Lecturer in Social Work at Brunel University Leonard F. Davis seeking to legitimise sexualised touching of children in care (Leonard F. Davis – Touch, Sexuality and Power in Residential SettingsBritish Journal of Social Work, Vol. 5, No. 4 (1975), pp. 397-411 – Davis himself acknowledged Righton’s advice in the preparation of the paper; he is listed as having ‘recently completed the Course in Educational Studies at the National Institute for Social Work’, so may have been one of Righton’s students), Righton argued ‘‘Provided there is no question of exploitation, sexual relationships freely entered into by residents – including adolescents – should not be a matter for automatic inquiry’. Amazingly, several responses to this were essentially sympathetic to Righton’s position (see letters from March 15th and 22nd, 1977; another by an A. Whitaker, published on April 12th, 1977, was sharply critical, but the editor added a note at the end disputing whether this letter accurately represented Righton’s views). 

In the mid-1970s, fellow social worker Ann Goldie was present at a dinner party with Righton, who confided to her that he had engaged in sexual relations with eight or nine boys in residential care homes. Knowing that Goldie was a lesbian, Righton (rightly) trusted a group loyalty when giving this information. Daphne Statham had first encountered Righton in 1966 and frequently thereafter, and admitted that she had had suspicions (especially when Righton mentioned about a ‘motorbike club’), but didn’t enquire further, something she later came to bitterly regret (Pilkington, ‘Shadow of the Attic‘). A similar story was related by Stewart Payne and Eileen Fairweather, of Righton’s being able to be quite blatant about his activities in the knowledge that some other fellow lesbians or gays, or feminists, would not break ranks (Payne and Fairweather, ‘Silence that cloaked child sex conspiracy’, Evening Standard, May 27th, 1994).

As well as the Social Work Today pieces, Righton would in 1976 co-edit a volume with Sonia Morgan, Child Care; Concerns and Conflicts (London: Hodder Education, 1976), and publish an article ‘Sexual minorities and social work’, Health and Social Services Journal, February 28th, 1976, pp. 392-393. At some point prior to 1977, Righton also sat on the Central Council for Education in Training and Social Work (Peter Righton, ‘Positive and Negative Aspects in Residential Care’, Social Work Today Vol. 8, No. 37 (June 28th, 1977), cited in Lucy Robinson, Gay Men and the Left in Post-War Britain: How the Personal got Political (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011)); he also spoke at a conference in Doncaster in June 1977 jointly organised by Doncaster metropolitan borough and Yorkshire region of the Residential Care Association, called ‘Residential care – resource or last resort?’, where anotehr speaker was Janie Thomas (‘Residental care – resource or last resort?’, Social Work Today, Vol. 8, No. 37 (June 28th, 1977), p. 8). On October 16th, 1978, Righton gave a talk to the Camden and Islington branch of the British Association of Social Workers on ‘Links, conflict and relationships between residential and fieldwork’, in the Royal Free Hospital in London (Social Work Today, October 10th, 1978); on 20th March, 1979, he spoke to the Croydon and East Surrey branch of BASW on whether ‘The farmer and the cowboy can be friends?’ at Rees House, Croydon (Social Work Today, March 20th, 1979)

In 1979, he would further co-edit a volume with Margaret Richards entitled Social Work Education in Conflict (London: National Institute for Social Work, 1979), in which he published articles ‘Knowledge About Teaching and Learning in Social Work Education’, pp. 1-18 (Peter Righton – Knowledge about Teaching and Learning in Social Work Education), and ‘Four Approaches to Curriculum Design’, pp. 62-80 (Peter Righton – Four Approaches to Curriculum Design), and edited a further book on Studies in Environment Therapy (London: Planned Environment Therapy Trust, 1979). 

In 1977, Righton also participated in the London Medical Group’s annual conference, on this occasion the subject being ‘Human Sexuality’, speaking alongside agony aunt Claire Rayner amongst others (M. Papouchado, ‘Annual Conference of the LMG: Human Sexuality’, Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol. 3 (1977), pp. 153-154).

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In 1979, Righton sat on a steering committee to establish a course for training staff to work with disturbed young people, together with John Rea Price, director of Islington Social Services, 1972-92, subsequently the Director of the National Children’s Bureau. Other’s on the committee included G Godfrey Isaacs, chairman of Peper Harow, Mary Joynsons, director of child care for Barnardos, Janet Mattinson, Tavistock Centre, and Nick Stacey (see Social Work Today, April 3rd, 1979 (see links above), and the advert below, from The Guardian, March 28th, 1979).

Guardian 280379

 

The ‘Barclay Report’ of 1980, Social Workers : Their Role & Tasks : the report of a working party set up in October 1980 at the request of the Secretary of State for Social Services by the National Institute for Social Work ; under the chairmanship of Peter M. Barclay (London : National Institute by Bedford Square Press, 1981/1982 [printing]), included the following text: ‘We pay tribute to the work of our Secretary, Mr Bob King, of Mr Peter Righton, formerly Director of Education at the National Institute, who has shouldered a considerable drafting burden and of Miss Carol Whitwill, their personal secretary and helper’.

 

Peter Righton Social Work 2 Peter Righton Social Work

 

And then in 1981, Righton published his most blatant article to date, ‘The adult’, in Brian Taylor (ed), Perspectives on Paedophilia (London: Batsford, 1981), pp. 24-40. Drawing upon an unholy canon of paedophile writers, Righton made the case for sex with children being unharmful, in his characteristically elegant manner. No-one who read this could have been in any doubt about Righton’s inclinations (or the nature of the volume in general). 

One might have thought that one so flagrantly brandishing their sexual interest in children, speaking about it shamelessly to various others, publishing two articles making this clear, and also having been publicly identified as on the Executive Committee of the Paedophile Information Exchange, would have had difficulty being accepted as an expert on child care and child sexuality. But not at all; in 1984, he was one of the major speakers at a conference on Child Sexual Abuse (alongside fellow PIE member and academic Ken Plummer). Righton’s career continued to flourish through the 1980s, and in 1991 he was invited to give evidence to the Pindown inquiry into sexual and physical abuse in Staffordshire (‘Britain’s top kiddies home expert is evil child-sex perv’, The Sun, September 17th, 1992). He helped with translation and editing of some writings on music produced by Donald Mitchell, a major figure involved with the estate of Benjamin Britten and the Britten-Pears Foundation (having been Britten’s publisher); later he would be a co-translator of the volume Truus de Leur and Henriette Straub (ed) Keep these Letters, Please! A Written portrait of the Concertgebouw Orchestra 1904-1921, translated Ian Borthwick, Nicholas Pretzel and Peter Righton (Amsterdam: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, c. 1998).

At the time of his arrest  for importation of child abuse images in 1992, Righton was also a senior tutor with the Open University (previously the employer of PIE chair Tom O’Carroll, and who had published Righton’s volume Working with Children and Young People in 1990), working on a project to do with residential children (Peter Burden and Peter Rose, .’Porn Squad quiz Child Care Expert’, Daily Mail, May 28th, 1992); James Golden, ‘Hoard of filth in childcare expert’s home’, Daily Mail, September 17th, 1992). Chris Andrews, of BASW, described Righton at the time of his arrest as follows: He [Righton] is a highly respected figure within the residential field, particularly working with highly disturbed children. He is very much concerned with therapeutic work in child care’ (cited in Burden and Rose, ‘Porn Squad quiz Child Care Expert’).

The Department of Health and then-Health-Secretary Virginia Bottomley were told in 1993 about an influential network involving Righton. but appear to have done nothing. Nor does there appear to have been much action following the disturbing Inside Story documentary on Righton broadcast the following year, with various testimonies of Righton’s victims . After Righton was convicted, receiving a £900 fine, in September 1992, he was able to relocate on the estate of Lord Henniker in 1993, and continue to have contact with children in care, many of who (not least from Islington) were regularly brought to the estate (Stewart Payne and Eileen Fairweather, ‘Country house hideaway of disgraced care chief’, Evening Standard, May 6th, 1993).

From 1996 to 2002, he had an address of 1 Wheatfields, Rickinghall, Diss IP22 1EN, but also in 1998, he appears to have lived at an 8 Badsey Road, together with another person called Wendy C. Hall-Barnes (source Martin Walkerdine). He would move to Hamworthy, Poole, Dorset, in 2003, where he would die on October 12th, 2007.

Politicians, social workers, civil servants and many others have huge questions to answer about how a figure like Righton could manage to operate with apparent impunity for such a long period of time when his real nature was far from hidden, preying upon the most disturbed and vulnerable boys, and manipulating child care policy towards his own exploitative ends. Righton has been linked to major scandals in Islington, Calderdale, Suffolk, Rochdale (also said by one survivor to have been friendly with Cyril Smith – Keir Mudie, ‘New victim links notorious paedophile Peter Righton to VIP child abuse network’, Sunday People, April 6th, 2013), North Wales (where MP Peter Morrison, Margaret Thatcher’s PPS, has alleged to have abused boys), Haute de la Garenne (Jersey), a series of public schools, networks in Sweden, Malta, Denmark and Holland, and more, and may be one of the worst offenders ever known in the UK, certainly one of the most influential in facilitating others. The existence of diaries kept by Righton on his ‘conquests’, as seen by Peter McKelvie at the time of his earlier investigation, was the impetus for Tom Watson’s October 2012 intervention in Parliament, which more than anything else set in motion the process which has led to the inquiry which has now been announced.

Police collected a whole seven boxes of evidence during the raid on Righton’s home. It is imperative that the full extent of his activities (and also those of the equally sinister and highly-connected Morris Fraser), and the many lessons to be learned, are central to the inquiry.