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.

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A few good politicians – Becky Milligan at the office of Simon Danczuk, with Matt Baker, and the personal impact of abuse campaigning

The link above details a visit made by BBC Radio 4 reporter Becky Milligan to the office of Labour MP Simon Danczuk, together with his parliamentary aide Matt Baker. Here she encounters much correspondence concerning allegations of abuse by politicians, several about that at Elm Guest House. A solicitor got in touch, to mention a visit in the early 1980s to Barnes Police Station, representing a young boy who had been at EGH; had been interviewed, police got aggressive and pushy, she stepped in to say this was unpleasant for her client. The police took the solicitor to one side and showed her a statement from another boy, saying he had been raped at the house by politicians and judges, which left the solicitor utterly shocked. Danczuk and Baker are hoping to encourage the solicitor to go to the police about this now. Baker is sure there are police officers themselves in possession of dynamite information on this (one reason why an amnesty is needed to ensure they can come forward with details). If true, the alleged activities at Elm Guest House, and the cover-up entailed, beggar belief – I would recommend those not yet aware of this to read this account by an alleged survivor of the house, this terrible article from the Daily Star in 1982 alleging that ten-year old boys were made to act as sex slaves for 13 hours per day for adult men and women, and this series of articles reproduced on the Spotlight blog.

Baker speaks of an occasion recounted by a former police officer, in which a floor of a hotel was raided where a range of paedophiles were found, all with boys in their beds. Amongst those pulled in by the police was a very prominent individual; the officers were told not to say anything about this – if they did they would lose their pension and would never be promoted. Baker said that this former police officer was cynical about possibility of an amnesty, saying no Home Secretary would allow that. It is incumbent upon Theresa May to make provisions for this as soon as possible, and for Yvette Cooper, shadow Home Secretary, to make a pledge to make such an arrangement if Labour are returned to power next year.

Clearly since Danczuk’s Select Com appearance, his office has been inundated by phone calls with terrible stories of abuse, many involving very prominent figures. Milligan sits in on an interview with a former pupil of Knowl View Residential School, subject of a major investigation into sustained abuse and its cover-up. Upsetting interview in which the man intimates how he is seen as someone no-one wants to go near, because he was abused. And conveys the terror of the place, and how every detail stays with him on a daily basis, saying that ‘Knowl View School will stick in my mind like it’s happening now in this room’.

Danczuk and Baker talk about how personally upsetting all of this is, and their coping strategies. Whilst nothing like on the scale of that they have known, I have some experience of how this feels, from a time at the beginning of 2013 when in the space of a couple of weeks I received hundreds of e-mails, phone calls and messages on social media from survivors of widespread abuse in music schools and conservatoires, often with horrific detail, combined with information about callous or malicious cover-up and bullying on the part of others in a position to do something about it, but not prepared to do so, preferring to protect the reputation of their places. The effect of all of this is depressing and disspiriting beyond belief. It can fill you with a mixture of feelings of hopelessness, paranoia, massive anger, and a sense that most else in the world seems pretty trivial in comparison – also it can be very hard for your partner if they see you so preoccupied by all of this. Naturally I can only speak with any certainty about my own experience, though communicating with others has suggested this is far from atypical. Happily I see an excellent therapist on a weekly basis, who has helped a lot with dealing with everything that this involvement brings. Doing so has changed my life and I am quite sure it has changed that of Danczuk and Baker – and those other politicians and campaigners who are exposed to this sort of material on a daily basis.

Some of the blasé members of the Labour Party have been very aloof and stand-offish towards Danczuk (and Tom Watson, and I would guess others who have been very active campaigners such as John Mann), not least because he serialised his book on Cyril Smith in the Daily Mail (the North London Labourite paper of choice, The Guardian, probably wouldn’t have touched it, and has a somewhat murky history of its own in terms of giving a platform to paedophile Tom O’Carroll, and also presenting lesbian child abuse in a positive light, in an article I will post after this), and his investigations might implicate some senior Labour politicians as well. This is unfortunately a typical attitude of those who would put the reputations of their parties (or leading figures in their parties) before the interests of children, and exactly how cover-ups work. Danczuk and Watson and Mann (and equally Tories such as Zac Goldsmith and Tim Loughton, Liberal Democrats John Hemming and Tessa Munt, who has bravely spoken out about her own experiences of sexual abuse, Green politician Caroline Lucas, and various others, not least the over 140 MPs who signed the call for a full national inquiry well before the Home Secretary agreed to one) have on the contrary worked relentlessly on bringing these issues to public attention, for sure at no small personal cost to themselves, and my admiration for them could not be greater. All of them are a model for politicians of the future, in order to restore some confidence in the possibility of meaningful political action at Westminster.


Abuse in Lambeth, Operation Ore, and the Blair Minister(s) – Press Reports so far [Updated November 2014]

In amidst the reporting of the scandals involving Elm Guest House and the VIP ring alleged to have attended there, less has been widely known about a distinct series of events alleged to involve a senior Labour minister, or perhaps more than one. Here I present a wide range of articles dealing with two areas: organised child abuse in Lambeth, and Operation Ore, which identified numerous prominent people as involved in the purchase of images of child abuse – including a Blair cabinet minister. I first give the range of articles mostly from the 1980s and 1990s on Lambeth, leading to Operation Middleton, then those from the early 2000s on Operation Ore (including a significant piece from Counterpunch magazine) and one looking back on this, then finally a series of recent articles mostly from the Mirror from 2013 and this year by crime correspondent Tom Pettifor, which also suggest the involvement of a Blair cabinet minister in a ring operating in Lambeth homes. First of all it is important to note that all the ministers who have been identified by investigators may be entirely innocent, also that Operations Middleton and Ore might be dealing with entirely different alleged ministers (in which case there is the possibility of a whole three Blair cabinet ministers having been under suspicion for sexual offences involving children). But there may also be overlaps. I provide this material for reference purposes for others looking into these events.

Profound thanks are due to Charlotte Russell for her help in collating together articles for this post, and of course to Murun of the Spotlight blog , who first located and copied most of the scanned clippings used below.


LAMBETH


From ‘How Margaret Hodge’s policies allowed paedophiles to infiltrate Islington children’s homes’, Spotlight, April 30th, 2013

[….] The gay liberation movement had been infiltrated by paedophiles as early as 1975. There were paedophiles posing as gay men and hiding behind the gay rights banner to avoid detection. The largest and most influential organisation in the gay rights movement was the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE). At their national conference in Sheffield in 1975 they voted to give paedophiles a bigger role in the gay rights movement. CHE were affilated to the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), who campaigned for the age of consent to be reduced to 4, which would effectively legalise paedophilia. Copies of PIE’s manifesto were sold at CHE conferences.

This association between the gay rights movement and paedophiles carried on for years, and was still going strong in 1983 when Margaret Hodge decided to proactively hire gays (and therefore paedophiles) to work with children at Islington Council. In September 1983, Capital Gay reported that CHE had “stepped up support for the Paedophile Information Exchange”.

It’s hard to believe that Margaret Hodge wasn’t aware that the gay rights movement had been infiltrated by paedophiles, and that many ostensibly ‘gay’ men were in fact paedophiles. Her late husband, Henry Hodge, was chairman of the National Council of Civil Liberties (NCCL) since 1974, and the NCCL were affiliated to the Paedophile Information Exchange. In 1978, the Protection of Children Bill was put before Parliament, and the NCCL’s official response stated that images of child abuse should only be considered ‘indecent’ if it could be proved that the child had suffered harm. The document was signed by the NCCL’s legal officer, Harriet Harman, who along with her husband Jack Dromey (also an NCCL official), were close friends of the Hodges.

The council’s policy also stated that any gay man (and therefore also a paedophile who claimed he was gay) would be protected from harassment. This meant that staff members who made allegations of child abuse against gay (or paedophile) members of staff would be accused of harassment, and any disciplinary action was dropped. This also meant that staff that should have been investigated had ‘clean’ ecords and were allowed to gon on and abuse children at other children’s homes after they left Islington.

From The White Report, 1995: “…it is apparent from this analysis that the London Borough of Islington did not in most cases undertake the standard investigative processes that should have been triggered when they occurred. It is possible, therefore that some staff now not in the employment of Islington could be working in the field of Social Services with a completely clean disciplinary record and yet have serious allegations still not investigated in their history.” The report went on to say that Islington Council was “paralysed by equal opportunity“, and “the policy of positive discrimination in Islington has had serious unintended consequences in allowing some staff to exploit children for their own purposes.”

Islington Council had adopted another policy the previous year which meant that any firms wanting a grant or loan from the council would have to “produce evidence of their commitment not to discriminate against gay staff”. This meant that companies associated with Islington’s children’s homes would also have difficulty reporting paedophiles without being accused of homophobia. This may explain how one of the staffing agencies used by Islington Council had also been infiltrated by paedophiles.

Islington was probably the first council to implement a policy that made it easier for paedophiles to work with children. In September 1983 it looked like Islington were influencing Lambeth Council to implement the same policy. Lambeth also went on to have a paedophile network operating in its children’s homes, over 200 children were believed to have been abused.

Daily Star, August 1st, 1983

Star 010883 - Mr Nasty


Capital Gay, September 30th, 1983

Capital Gay 030983 - Pressure mounts on Lambeth Council


News of the World, October 23rd, 1983

“In Lambeth, London, 124 youngsters have been separated from friends and moved to alternative homes as far away as North Wales“

Did Lambeth Council also send children to Bryn Alyn? Neighbouring council Southwark did – see Southwark Council and Bryn Alyn – and child sexual abuse was rife in both Lambeth and Southwark children’s homes at the time.

News of the World 231083 - Anguish of Care Kids


Social Work Today, November 11th, 1985

Social Work Today 111185 - New child care strategy


Daily Express, May 15th, 1986

Express 150586a - Guilty - Social worker in rent boy scandal

Express 150586b - Guilty - Social worker in rent boy scandal

Community Care, July 31st, 1986

Community Care 310786 - Inquiries into alleged sex assault on child in care


Daily Mail, September 1st, 1986

Daily Mail 010986 - Police quiz on child sex at council home


Evening Standard, September 1st, 1986

Evening Standard 010986 - Council home children 'abused'


Daily Mail, September 2nd, 1986

Daily Mail 020986 - Sex change shock at council home


The Guardian, September 2nd, 1986

Guardian 020986a - Children's home inquiry


South London Press, September 2nd, 1986

South London Press 020986 - Home probe


The Times, September 2nd, 1986

Scotland Yard is investigating claims of sexual abuse by staff on mentally handicapped children at a nursing home in south London.

The police said yesterday that an inquiry into the allegations had begun after a complaint by the mother of a boy aged 12 at the Monkton Street Nursing Home in Kennington.

Staff at the home, which is run by Lambeth council, are being interviewed by detectives.

Lambeth council, which is also carrying out its own investigations into the claims, said yesterday that the police were talking about attacks on at least six young people.

The boy at the centre of the allegations has a mental age of four.

But, according to his mother, he is able to speak coherently and could tell her how serious his injuries were and how they happened.

Officials from Lambeth council hope to present a report shortly to Mrs Phyllis Dunipace, head of Lambeth’s social service committee.


Social Work Today, September 8th, 1986

Social Work Today 080986 - Police check on sex abuse allegations


The Guardian, September 22nd, 1986

Guardian 220986 - Social work shake-up


South London Press, October 3rd, 1986

South London Press 031086a - Cops quiz man on sex assault


South London Press, November 25th, 1986

South London Press 251186 - No charges in kids' home sex row


News of the World, November 31st, 1986

News of the World 311186 - Boy rape beasts escape the law


Daily Mail, December 3rd, 1986

Daily Mail 031286 - Evil men in child sex case 'must not go free'


South London Press, December 5th, 1986

South London Press 051286b - Cops rapped in sex abuse row


(2)South London Press, December 5th, 1986

South London Press 051286c - Charter to abuse


South London Press, December 19th, 1986

South London Press 191286 - Council curb on help for police


Daily Mail, January 16th, 1987

Daily Mail 160187 - Murder probe block

South London Press, January 16th, 1987

South London Press 160187 - Council Rocked by Nursery Sex Row


Evening Standard, October 19th, 1992

South London Press 191092a - Search for 200 boys in Lambeth abuse probe

South London Press 191092b - Search for 200 boys in Lambeth abuse probe


South London Press, October 20th, 1992

South London Press 201092a - Scandal of vile child sex ring

South London Press 201092b - Scandal of vile child sex ring


South London Press, November 27th, 1992

South London Press 271192a - Third arrest in child sex probe


South London Press, December 4th, 1992

South London Press 041292a - Scandal of kids' home boss prompts outcry

South London Press 041292b - Scandal of kids' home boss prompts outcry


The Guardian, December 5th, 1992

Guardian 051292 - Convicted child abuser 'allowed to stay as children's home boss'


South London Press, December 8th, 1992

South London Press 081292a - Top level inquiry into kids' homes

South London Press 081292b - Top level inquiry into kids' homes


Community Care, December 10th, 1992

Community Care 101292 - Sex offence home head prompts Lambeth inquiry


South London Press, December 11th, 1992

South London Press 111292 - Guideline on kids' homes staff


Community Care, December 17th, 1992

Community Care 171292 - More Lambeth workers charged with alleged sex offences


South London Press, December 1992

South London Press 1292

[Bulic Forsythe, who worked as a manager at Clapham for Lambeth social services, and often wrote important policy documents relating to Health and Safety, was last seen alive on February 24th, 1993. His daughter was due in May. His body was found on February 26th, soaked with blood, his skull having been fractured with a heavy weapon, in a burning building. The dates given in the Mirror report from 21/5/14 (see at end of this post) do not coincide with those in the Crimewatch report, which I use here]


Crimewatch, June 1993
Report on the murder of Bulic Forsythe


The Guardian, August 4th, 1993

Guardian 040893 - Children's home manager with conviction kept in job by council


Community Care, January 13th, 1994

Community Care 130194 - Silence money


Care Weekly, February 10th, 1994

Care Weekly 100294 - Residential worker abused three boys in Lambeth home


South London Press, April 7th, 1995

South London Press 070495 - Porn terror gang is out to get me


South London Press, May 12th, 1995

South London Press 120595 - Child sex pervert's 6000 pay off


South London Press, May 26th, 1995

South London Press 260595a - Porn ring report sensation

South London Press 260595b - Porn ring report sensation

South London Press 260595c - Porn ring report sensation


South London Press, May 26th, 1995

South London Press 260596 - Violence threat to sleaze fighter


South London Press, May 26th, 1995

South London Press 260595 - Was manager beaten to death for probing fraud


South London Press, May 26th, 1995

South London Press 260595 - Stash of paedophile videos

South London Press 260595b - Stash of paedophile videos


South London Press, May 31st, 1995

South London Press 310595a - Under Fire

South London Press 310595b - Under Fire

South London Press 310595c - Under Fire

South London Press 310595d - Under Fire

South London Press 310595e - Under Fire

South London Press 310595f - Under Fire


South London Press, June 2nd, 1995

South London Press 020695 - Petrol attack to silence rape victim

South London Press 020695 - Godfather tried to block rape investigation


South London Press, June 9th, 1995

South London Press 090695a - A letter to member of staff

South London Press 090695b - A letter to member of staff

South London Press 090695c - A letter to member of staff


South London Press, June 13th, 1995

South London Press 130695a - Murder bid on porn witness

South London Press 130695b - Murder bid on porn witness


‘Paedophile on the run given job with children’
The Independent, August 2nd, 1996

A paedophile with convictions stretching back 41 years attacked two schoolboys after being employed by a local authority at an Astroturf football pitch, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

John Roberts, 63, who was on the run from prison when he was taken on by a London council, was told by Judge Alan Hitching that he was facing a life term.

An Old Bailey jury convicted him of sexually abusing two boys aged seven and 13. Both have been left traumatised by their ordeal, it was revealed.

Roberts went on the run from jail while on home leave from an eight-year sentence and took an assumed name of William Lane.

He went to an employment agency and applied for the job of groundsman for Kennington Astroturf football pitch in south London. Lambeth council gave him the job at the pitch, which is used by hundreds of youngsters in the borough.

The court was not told whether the council had made any police checks.

Police revealed afterwards that he was in the process of starting up several boys’ football teams when he was arrested.

Roberts, of Peckham, south London, was found guilty of buggering and indecent assault on the seven-year-old and indecency with the 13-year- old. He was cleared of one charge of indecency with the younger boy. The offences occurred in October last year.

Roberts cursed the jury and continually interrupted the proceedings after the guilty verdicts. He was ordered to sit down and keep quiet or face being taken to the cells.

The judge told him: “This is the ninth offence of this nature and his passion in this direction is showing no signs of abating. I have to consider a very long jail term or a life sentence for the protection of the public and young children.”

He adjourned the case for pre-sentence and probation reports to be prepared. The judge also extended legal aid to Roberts’ defence team so a top QC could be employed to argue his case as he is facing such a long penalty.

Roberts worked for Lambeth for four months using his position of trust as a means of getting close to children, the court heard.

Edmond Brown, prosecuting, said: “He used his influence and his age to take advantage of two boys and invite them into his house.”

The court heard that he enticed the boys with money and by taking them to hamburger restaurants. The boys, who were not allowed to have any counselling until after the trial, gave their evidence via a video link.

A father of one of the boys saw Roberts follow his son into bushes at the ground and later warned him off.

But Roberts continued his activities. He gave the 13-year-old boy £15 and showed him and his seven-year-old friend pornographic pictures of children.

He carried out the attacks at his flat and when police raided it they found a Polaroid camera, gay magazines and condoms. He was caught after one of the boys told his father.


Community Care c.1999

Community Care c. 1996


South London Press, November 1997

In November 1997 the South London Press ran a story about a ‘sex chamber’ hidden in the basement of Lambeth Police Station with bedding, a red light, and a manacle. Was Lambeth Police Station being used by the paedophile ring to abuse children and produce child abuse images?

South London Press 1197b

South London Press 1197a


Sophie Goodchild, ‘Hunt for abused children’
Independent on Sunday, February 7th, 1999

MORE THAN 3,000 children are to be traced as part of an investigation into allegations of sexual and physical abuse at a string of care homes.

The Metropolitan Police and social workers are already conducting an inquiry into claims that a paedophile ring was operating in Lambeth children’s homes over a 20-year period.

Now a special team of social workers has been drafted in to search council archives for details of children who could also have been victims of abuse at the homes between 1974 and 1994.

Sources close to the investigation, called Operation Middleton, say that it could uncover a paedophile network spanning the country. The officer leading the inquiry, which is expected to take several years to complete, is Detective Superintendent Richard Gargini. He is understood to be reporting directly to Sir Paul Condon, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

The investigation was originally triggered by claims that a young boy was raped at the Angell Road children’s home in Brixton by a residential worker who later died of an Aids-related illness.

The abuser has been named as Steve Forrest, a residential social worker who died in 1992 after contracting HIV. He had contact with many other children, whom the council fears he may have also abused. Another man, John Carroll, the former head of the Angell Road home, has since been charged by Merseyside police in connection with 69 indecent assaults on boys in Lambeth and in the Wirral.

The Angell Road home has been closed down along with others in the area as part of a drive to place children in private and voluntary care homes as well as with foster parents.

The Metropolitan Police refuse to confirm the cost of the inquiry but it is estimated that the bill will eventually cost as much as £3m and lead to compensation claims by former residents of the homes.

Lambeth council and the Metropolitan Police have been criticised in the past for failing to investigate thoroughly previous allegations of child abuse. However, the Met says it is working closely with Merseyside Police to ensure that all those who may have been affected are contacted and that evidence is gathered to secure prosecutions of any offenders.

Databases have been set up to provide information on all children and staff who lived and worked in Lambeth homes, and files and other sources of material have been placed in secure storage. A special building has been designated for the investigation team, consisting of 20 people, to ensure that detectives and social workers are able to liaise with each other.

The Met has also announced that it will be offering a counselling and support service both to the victims of the alleged crimes, and to their families.

The report into the allegations of abuse in the homes is expected to be made public once it has been completed.


‘LAMBETH LBC SUSPENDS SENIOR OFFICER IN CHILDRENS’ HOMES INQUIRY’
Local Government Chronicle, May 21st, 1999

Pennie Pennie, assistant director of the children and families division of Lambeth LBC social services, has been suspended while an independent inquiry investigates allegations of child abuse at children’s homes in the borough in the 1980s, reports the South London Press (p7).The inquiry is running in conjunction with a Metropolitan Police and social services investigation called Operation Middleton, which is aiming to trace the 3,000 children who lived in council-run children’s homes in Lambeth in the 1980s.


Daily Mail, July 6th, 1999

Daily Mail 060799 - He was a convicted pervert


Kim Sengupta, ‘Care worker had paedophile record’
The Independent, July 6th, 1999

A SOCIAL worker who carried out dozens of sex attacks was allowed to keep his job as the head of a children’s home, despite the fact that local authority officials knew he had been convicted of a paedophile offence.

The decision by Lambeth Council in south London not to dismiss Michael Carroll after learning about his indecent assault on a 12-year-old boy emerged yesterday as he pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to 35 charges of child sex abuse over 20 years.

The council found out about Carroll’s conviction in l986 when he was running a children’s home in the borough, and issued him with a written warning. He was dismissed five years later after an investigation into financial irregularities.

Heather Rabbatts, Lambeth’s chief executive, admitted last night that the decision not to sack Carroll was a “serious error” which would not happen under today’s regulations. “Knowing what we know today about the nature of these offences and the nature of those who commit them, it was a mistake not to have dismissed this man. However, different legislation applied at that time and Carroll was allowed to continue in his post,” she said.

Ms Rabbatts, who was not in charge while Carroll was employed, said restrictions imposed by police and social services inquiries into alleged child abuses meant no further details about his actions as a council employee could be disclosed.

Scotland Yard has amassed a database of 14,500 names of children in the borough’s care between l974 and l995. Lambeth closed all its homes for children in care in l995 in response to concern about abuse.

Yesterday, Carroll, 50, of Oswestry, Shropshire, pleaded guilty to 24 indecent assaults, five cases of buggery and five of attempted buggery, and one act of gross indecency against 12 boys. All the offences took place while he was working in residential care in Merseyside and London between l966-86.

Carroll was originally charged with 76 offences. The Recorder let the remaining indictments lie on file. Sentencing will take place on 30 July.

Carroll, who was born in Liverpool and grew up in care, studied child care and obtained qualifications at Liverpool and Salford universities and the Mabel Fletcher College, Liverpool. He got a job at St Edmund’s Orphanage in Bebington, Merseyside, in the mid-Sixties and in l978 became deputy officer at a children’s home in Lambeth, taking charge in l980.

He was convicted of indecent assault against a 12-year-old in l966 when he was at St Edmund’s Orphanage. He failed to declare this conviction when he took up the post in Lambeth, but it came to light in l986 through police checks when he applied to foster two children from another borough.

Following a written warning, Carroll continued in his post until his dismissal over allegations of financial malpractice in l991. He moved to Chirk, Clwyd, and bought a hotel business. In l997 he came under suspicion during a major investigation into child abuse launched by Merseyside Police. He was arrested shortly afterwards.


‘CARE MANAGER ADMITS 35 CHARGES’
Local Government Chronicle, July 15th, 1999

A former Lambeth care home manager has admitted 35 counts of child abuse over 18 years.Michael John Carroll pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to charges which included buggery of three boys, the youngest aged eight.Nine of the victims lived in a Wirral orphanage where Carroll worked and three lived at a children’s home in Lambeth where he was deputy officer in charge.Lambeth LBC and the Metropolitan Police have launched a joint investigation, called Operation Middleton, into paedophile activity in children’s homes in the borough between 1974 and 1998.Lambeth member and social services and health secretary Julie Brodie said: ‘We are now sadder and wiser about paedophile activities, and the resources and techniques now available to investigators make for a much higher detection rate.’


The Guardian, October 1st, 1999

Guardian 011099 - 'Shocking' lapses by council in abuse case


‘UNISON LETTER LEADS TO LAMBETH U-TURN ON CHILDCARE OUTSOURCING’
Local Government Chronicle, October 19th, 1999

Lambeth LBC has resolved not to go ahead with plans to outsource areas of social services involving children after Unison distributed a letter addressed to Heather Rabbatts, the chief executive, to Labour members.The South London Press (p10) reported that the Labour-run council had planned to externalise the fostering and adoption section of the social services department. But after a party group meeting, it was resolved not to go ahead with the plan.In the letter to Ms Rabbatts, Lambeth branch secretary Jon Rogers says: ‘Unison is concerned that the council may be on the brink of hasty and ill-advised action in relation to the current concerns about child protection work in Lambeth.’He continues: ‘We have expressed our concerns about the current circumstances in which our members are striving to protect children and young people directly to investigators from ‘Chile’ – the child team [part of Operation Middleton, the police and social services joint investigation probing possible paedophile activity in Lambeth’s children’s homes during the 1970s, 80s and 90s.]’Unison is unhappy at the way staff are being probed by Chile. Mr Rogers says: ‘We want, as a trade union, to be able to encourage our members to provide the fullest support in any investigation into the possibility of abuse of children and young people for whom the council has had a responsibility.’Our ability to do this and the confidence of our members in the investigation is hindered if there is any room for a perception that the investigators are being used to pursue selective investigation of particular issues in order to justify existing decisions to suspend particular employees.’We are obliged to tell you that there is, at present, considerable room for such a perception, snd that is quite widely held.’


Daily Mail, February 18th, 2000

Daily Mail 180200a - Even Worse

Daily Mail 180200b - Even Worse


Justin Davenport, ’40 hunted in Lambeth paedophile gang probe’
The Evening Standard, February 18th, 2000

DETECTIVES investigating a paedophile ring which operated in Lambeth children’s homes over a 20-year period are focusing on around 40 key suspects who have yet to be traced.

The inquiry into the Lambeth homes was launched more than a year ago after a former care worker in the borough was jailed for 10 years for abusing 12 boys.
The social worker, who cannot be named for legal reasons, carried out a string of child sex attacks over two decades while working in residential care in Merseyside and London between 1966-86.

Today police renewed appeals for former residents of the children’s homes to contact them in an effort to trace suspects at the centre of the abuse scandal.

Detectives fear many could still be working in the care system. The move comes as the Department of Health said that all 28 missing suspects from the North Wales child abuse scandal had been tracked down. One was found to be still working with children in Stoke-on-Trent and she had been suspended.

Officers involved in the Lambeth investigation, codenamed Operation Middleton, are liaising with colleagues in north Wales and Merseyside and believe the jailed social worker was a member of a network of paedophiles nationwide.

Around 11,000 children were cared for in Lambeth homes during the period of the investigation between 1974 and 1995 but police say the number of victims is expected to be far less than that.

Detective Superintendent Richard Gargini said: “The scale of the problem is not yet known. We are still trying to find out where these people are. We are trying to trace offenders because clearly there is a community safety aspect.”

The investigation was originally triggered by claims that a young boy was raped at the Angell Road children’s home in Brixton by residential worker Steve Forrest, who died in 1992 from an Aids-related illness. Angell Road and other homes in the area have since been closed as part of a campaign to place children in private and voluntary care homes as well as with foster parents.


Stewart Tendler, ‘Lambeth child abuse victims ‘may total 200”
The Times, February 19th, 2000

POLICE believe that 200 children may have been sexually and physically abused by staff working for a South London borough, senior officers disclosed yesterday.

As detectives continue the hunt for suspects, Scotland Yard said that children as young as nine were subjected to rape, buggery and physical attack in allegations dating back to the 1970s and possibly earlier.

The alleged abusers included foster parents and potential adoptive parents.

The investigation began after Merseyside Police arrested a former council worker last year. New publicity on the investigation this week, in the wake of the Waterhouse Report on child abuse in North Wales, has prompted five more victims to contact investigators. Codenamed Operation Middleton, the inquiry centres on Lambeth council’s social services department and has led to seven arrests and the suspension of ten staff employed by the borough.

The suspects were aged between 20 and 40 at the time of the allegations. Those arrested are two women and five men, one of whom is still on the council’s staff.

Yesterday Detective Superintendent Richard Gargini, heading the 14-month inquiry, said that police were still trying to trace suspects. Warnings have been circulated to councils, schools and charities across Britain and Mr Gargini said that none was now working with children.

Police denied reports that they are investigating an extensive network of 100 paedophiles, but Mr Gargini said some of the suspects worked at the same homes, knew each other from training courses, or may have provided references.

The allegations cover a period between 1974 and 1994 in more than 20 homes run by Lambeth. Police say that the council dealt with 7,003 children in care during that time.

During those 20 years, it employed 1,400 staff in childcare programmes. A team of 31 investigators and council officers have scrutinised their careers and the allegations.

Police say that some of the claims may be too old to be verified, and that allegations made by children who were then aged nine are more difficult to substantiate.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Hugh Orde yesterday put the number of likely victims at 200.

Lambeth closed its homes in the mid-1990s after concerns over the treatment of children began to emerge.

Yesterday Helen Kenwood, an independent childcare expert advising the council and the investigating team, said that some victims wanted to forget their experiences. If, however, they needed support, the council would provide it.


Jason Bennetto, ‘Paedophile network abused 200 children’
The Independent, February 19th, 2000

MORE THAN 200 children are believed to have been abused by a network of paedophiles in London care homes.

Seven people have been arrested and 11 council workers suspended in the on-going police inquiry covering 20 years of sexual and physical abuse.

Scotland Yard is still trying to trace suspected paedophiles who worked in up to 25 children’s homes in the south London borough of Lambeth.

The inquiry, codenamed Operation Middleton, was set up last year after a former care worker in Lambeth was jailed at Liverpool Crown Court for abusing 12 boys. He admitted 35 offences both on Merseyside and in Lambeth. The London-based inquiry focused initially on Lambeth children’s homes, but has since expanded to local authorities nationwide.

The investigation is examining alleged abuse in Lambeth homes from 1974 to 1994.

So far the team has traced about 200 children who have claimed they were abused, including allegations of rape, buggery, and physical assault. The youngest victims were only nine at the time of the alleged assaults, which are said to have taken place from the 60s to the late 80s. In the past 24 hours another five victims have contacted the police.

Scotland Yard disclosed yesterday that they were still seeking the whereabouts of dozens of former care workers.

About 1,400 people worked at the children’s homes in Lambeth – which were all closed down by 1995 – but police are concentrating on tracing the alleged abusers named by the victims. About 7,000 children stayed at Lambeth’s homes during the relevant period.

So far police have arrested five men and two women during the 14-month inquiry. Eleven employees of Lambeth council have been suspended and face disciplinary charges for a range of offences including mismanagement.

A small number of people accused of child abuse have been found working in local authorities outside Lambeth, and have now been suspended.

Links have also been discovered between several of the key suspects. They were found to have worked together in the same homes, given each other references and carried out training courses together.

Detective Superintendent Richard Gargini, who is leading Operation Middleton, said: “There appears to be some linkage between people who were operating in the care system between 1974 and 1994.”

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Hugh Orde, of the Metropolitan Police, said he estimated the number of likely victims to be about 200, although more were being identified all the time.

Because the alleged abuse took place so long ago it has been difficult to obtain enough evidence to bring charges. “It ends up with almost word against word,” he said.

All the victims have been offered counselling. Anyone with information about the case should contact the police on 0171 926 3050

Two key workers at a children’s home were sentenced yesterday to a total of 23 years in prison for a string of sexual assaults on boys in their care.

Former Deputy Principal Barrie Alden, 66, from Norwich, and ex-house master John Wright, 56, from Talgarth, Powys, were sentenced at Newport Crown Court. Alden and Wright committed the offences on a total of eight boys at the Ty Mawr residential home, near Abergavenny, South Wales, from the 1960s to the 1980s.


The Guardian, February 28th, 2000

Guardian 280200 - West country police launch massive child abuse inquiry


‘CARE PROBE PROCESS SILENCES FEARFUL ABUSE VICTIMS IN LAMBETH’
Local Government Chronicle, May 11th, 2000

Lambeth LBC’s £1.25m search for victims of abuse in its children’s homes is driving away the very people it wants to help, a former care worker claims.Staff members running Operation Middleton are insisting victims give their names and addresses, a move which is discouraging victims from coming forward.So far 200 former children in care have made contact out of the 14,500 who passed through Lambeth’s hands from 1974. Twelve victims have asked for counselling.Lambeth closed the last of its 35 children’s homes in 1994. So far the probe has resulted in seven arrests, one imprisonment and nine staff suspensions.Lambeth’s interim chief executive, Heather Duquesne, told community leaders last week: ‘The 1999 Barratt report on our social services department identified incompetence of the grossest kind. We know children in our homes suffered both sexual abuse and beatings.

We are willing to do anything which a responsible authority would wish to do.’Critics told her 200 was only a fraction of the children involved. A former care worker who did not want to be identified told Ms Duquesne: ‘I am in touch with 40 young people who have complained of their treatment while in Lambeth’s care. They were all very unhappy at being made to give their names. They know how cunning care workers who abuse children are. These children are afraid of reprisals.’


Saba Salman, ‘Lambeth failed to carry out child abuse checks’
The Evening Standard, July 14th, 2000

A LONDON council in the midst of a child-abuse scandal has failed to carry out obligatory police checks on up to 4,000 key staff directly involved in the welfare of children.

Of the 5,000 Category A employees who have frequent contact with youngsters from teachers and playground staff to youth workers and janitors – around 4,000 have not undergone the checks councils are supposed to ask police to conduct to root out those with prior convictions.

And as recently as April, only 149 of 275 social services staff, the majority of them social workers, had been checked although police have now vetted them all.

The checking failure is despite the fact that Labour-run Lambeth is at the centre of Operation Middleton – a nationwide investigation centering on a paedophile ring which operated in the area’s children’s homes over a 20-year period.

The operation was launched more than a year ago after a former Lambeth care worker was jailed for 10 years for abusing 12 boys. The social worker carried out a string of child sex attacks over two decades while working in residential care in Merseyside and London between 1966-86 and police believe the jailed social worker was a member of a national network of abusers.

The investigation was sparked after claims that a boy was abused at the Angell Road children’s home in Brixton by residential worker Steve Forrest, who died in 1992 from an Aids-related illness. Later it emerged that allegations about Angell Road came to light in 1996, but Lambeth officers did not tell the victim for more than two years that his attacker had died of Aids.

An internal audit by the council’s human resources department showed there was no record of police checks for a large proportion of child welfare staff including those directly employed by the borough as well as those working for various contractors.

A Lambeth spokesman said part of the problem was that previous administrations failed to carry out checks and that, in most cases, they had been done, but errors meant this had had not shown up on staff records.

Council leader Tom Franklin has officers a month to tell him how long it will take for all staff to be checked.


Saba Salman, ‘Council allowed criminals to care for foster children’
The Evening Standard, October 24th, 2000

HUNDREDS of children were placed in unsuitable foster homes in south London because officials failed for years to order police checks on convicted criminals.

The welfare of the children was at risk because Lambeth council did not carry out the checks, according to a damning inquiry by independent investigator John Barratt.

The disclosure is likely to lead to compensation demands from those who were fostered by the council.

Inefficiency, departmental disorder and general inaction meant children were placed in the homes of people convicted for offences such as domestic violence, assault and drug use, said Mr Barratt.

Mr Barratt describes the “terrible indictment” of children’s services and concludes: “The council has repeatedly failed to fulfil both its statutory duties and its own policies relating to the care and protection of children.”

He added that the “chain of command linking departmental action to the council has decayed and disintegrated”. Mr Barratt pointed to other mistakes over the last decade, including decision-making that was “clogged” by excessive paperwork; social services records which proved “impossible to find”; and a reluctance to whistle-blow for fear of seeming disloyal or – in the case of white staff reporting on the activities of black staff – racist.

Labour-run Lambeth is also at the centre of Operation Middleton – a nationwide investigation of a suspected paedophile ring which operated in children’s homes over a 20-year period.

The operation was launched more than a year ago after a former Lambeth care worker was jailed for 10 years for abusing 12 boys.

He carried out child sex attacks over two decades while working in residential care in Merseyside and London between 1966 and 1986.

Police believe he was a member of a national network of abuse.

Operation Middleton was sparked by claims that a boy was abused at the Angell Road care home in Brixton by worker Steve Forrest, who died in 1992 from an Aids-related illness.

It emerged later that the allegations about the abuse began in 1996, but Lambeth did not tell the victim for more than two years that his attacker had died of an Aids-related illness.

In a previous report last year on the Angell Road scandal which he was also asked by Lambeth to investigate, Mr Barratt described a “shocking catalogue of organisational incompetence”.

In his second report he is critical of former executive director of social services Celia Pyke-Lees, who has since left to become chief executive of the Citizens Advice Bureau, and former assistant director of children and families, Pennie Pennie, who is contesting her dismissal from the council.

After reassessment, the council’s foster carers have fallen from 244 in 1997 to 130 today. The report does not reveal how many of the 114 sacked foster carers had convictions. An independent consultant is reassessing the remaining carers.


Saba Salman, ‘Care services in Lambeth putting children at risk’
The Evening Standard, November 1st, 2000

CONFUSION among care experts and staff shortages have put the welfare of vulnerable children in south London at risk, a damning Government report has ruled.

According to the Social Services Inspectorate, children in the care of Lambeth social services are: left on the child protection register for long periods of time; not allocated social workers; and do not have their cases reviewed regularly.

The inspectorate finds the children and families department of the Labour-run council “struggling under considerable and relentless pressure”.

The report adds: “In many areas, basic work systems were functioning poorly or had collapsed. This led to inefficient, fragmented and inconsistent work practices.”

Government inspectors recommend: urgent action to recruit staff; all children on the child protection register having detailed, up-to-date assessments of their needs; and a review of children who have been on the register for a long time.

Lisa Christensen, who was appointed last year as Lambeth’s social services director and charged with the task of solving the department’s problems, says the council had expected the strong criticism.

Ms Christensen says: “Leadership has been lacking and managerial decision-making underdeveloped. Staff have been inadequately supervised, legal duties ignored and social work staff left to work in isolation.”

The borough’s social services department is being monitored closely by the Government, which last year put on “special measures” because of concerns over child care. The Evening Standard reported recently how hundreds of children were placed in unsuitable foster homes in south London because officials failed for years to order police checks on convicted criminals.

According to a damning inquiry by independent investigator John Barratt, the welfare of the children was at risk because Lambeth council did not carry out the checks.

Inefficiency, departmental disorder and general inaction meant children were placed in the homes of people convicted for offences such as domestic violence, assault and drug use, said Mr Barratt.

Labour-run Lambeth is also at the centre of Operation Middleton – a nationwide investigation of a suspected paedophile ring that operated in children’s homes over a 20-year period.

The operation was launched more than a year ago after a former Lambeth care worker was jailed for abusing 12 boys.


Philip Nettleton, ’23 years on, paedophile is jailed for attacks on care boys’
The Evening Standard, April 11th, 2001

A 63-YEAR-OLD paedophile was jailed for 10 years today for a series of sex attacks on boys at south London care homes.

Swimming instructor William Hook was convicted of abusing six boys during his reign of terror between 1972 and 1978.

Four of his victims were residents at Shirley Oaks children’s home and one was at Beecholme in Banstead, in the care of Westminster council.

Another victim was abused over an 18-month period in Norfolk.

Sentencing him at Kingston Crown Court, Judge Kenneth MacRae said: “This is a sordid tale of depravity, self-gratification and corruption.

You robbed children of their innocence, embarking on classic grooming techniques.

“Your victims have had to live with their memories of what you did to them for every one of those days that has passed. One can only hope they can begin to repair their shattered lives.”

Hook, of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, was charged after several victims named him more than 20 years after his attacks. He admitted 26 offences.

Operation Middleton, a joint police and council investigation, has uncovered 200 victims.

Scotland Yard fears there were hundreds of others, who are now adults, and wants to hear from them.

Hook also taught at West Wickham swimming pool in the mid-Sixties and visited the Hollies children’s home in Sidcup and a similar home in Hornchurch, Essex.


Daily Mail, April 12th, 2001

Daily Mail 120401 - Swim teacher jailed


Ian Cobain, ‘Paedophile jailed for ten years may have abused hundreds’
The Times, 12th April 2001

A swimming instructor jailed for ten years for abusing boys may have preyed on hundreds of children, police said.

William Hook, 63, was the first person to be prosecuted after a police and local authority investigation into care homes in London and the South East.

He was jailed at Kingston Crown Court yesterday after admitting 26 charges of serious sexual assault and indecency against six boys, four of whom have since attempted suicide. Detective Superintendent Andy Kay, who has been overseeing the investigation, said after the case that Hook came into contact with hundreds of young boys in care. “We are quite certain there are other victims out there.”

Judge Kenneth MacRae told Hook: “This is a sordid tale of depravity, self-gratification and corruption. You robbed children of their innocence, embarking upon classic grooming techniques. You bought their affection or made them reliant or submissive to you.”

Hook hung his head as the judge added: “One can only hope your victims can now begin to repair their shattered lives.”

Detectives are investigating the sexual abuse of up to 200 children at care homes in South London between 1974 and 1994. Officials from Lambeth Council in South London are helping.

Hook was arrested after the sister of one of his victims contacted police after reading about the inquiry, and detectives eventually found several boys who had been abused in the 1970s by a tattooed hunchback whom they knew as “Mr Mark”. This man was identified as Mark Peter Merchell, who had worked as a swimming instructor at Shirley Oaks Children’s Home, Shirley, Surrey, where Lambeth and neighbouring Southwark accommodated boys in council care.

Merchell’s real name was found to be Anthony Wenzel Petermichl. Police tracked him down through the Swimming Teachers Association, which had issued certificates to some of the boys, and by the time he was arrested in December 1999 he had moved to Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, and changed his name again, to William Alfred Hook.

Detectives found a cupboard in his home that had been converted into a “shrine” to children, with an altar and photographs of boys and girls.

Helen Kenward, consultant social worker with the investigation team, said: “All his victims were extremely intelligent. That was the profile he chose. They have been left with terrible after-effects. Some have turned to drugs, some have resorted to alcoholism and some have had difficulties in forming relationships.”
Miss Sally O’Neill, for the prosecution, told the court that Hook showered his victims with gifts, including bicycles, diving watches and cassette players, before abusing them.

The boys said that Hook insisted that the young swimmers he coached took their lessons without wearing swimming trunks. Miss O’Neill said that Hook selected favourites, offering them “special coaching” after other boys had left the pool, which was next to the children’s home.

Superintendent Kay said that Hook would have been in contact with children as young as two in the nurseries of the care homes. He said that the investigation into abuse of children in London care homes was continuing, and that there are inquiries into children’s homes in Southwark and in Tower Hamlets in East London.

In all 13 full-time detectives are working on the team, and 11 people – nine men and two women – have been arrested. Two men are on police bail, and further arrests are expected. The director of social services for Lambeth said yesterday that the same horrors could happen again.

Speaking after Mr Hook was jailed, Lisa Christenson said: “I cannot promise this will never happen again. But children in care must be a primary focus of any council. The council let down those children very badly but we are talking about events 23 years ago. My job is to make sure this never happens again.”


‘Paedophile gets 10 years for offences 23 years ago’
Western Mail, April 12th, 2001

A PAEDOPHILE was jailed for 10 years yesterday after a police investigation into the sexual abuse of 200 children at care homes.

Former soldier William Hook, 63, from Great Yarmouth, was said to have picked on vulnerable youngsters whom he lured with gifts while working as a swimming instructor in south London care homes between 1970 and 1978.

He was sentenced at Kingston Crown Court after earlier pleading guilty to 26 charges of sexual abuse on boys aged between 10 and 16.

The court was told that Hook, who worked as a swimming instructor at four south London homes, had spun a web of fantasy to attract his victims, telling one that he would be mutilated and sold as a white sex slave to the Arabs if he did not succumb to his sexual desires.

Four of his victims had since attempted suicide.

When Hook was arrested two years ago at an address in Great Yarmouth police found a cupboard which had been turned into a purpose-built shrine to boys.

He was arrested during Operation Middleton, a joint investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service and Lambeth Council into sexual and physical abuse in south London between 1974 and 1994.

Scotland Yard said that since the investigation started two and a half years ago 200 alleged victims had come forward.

Hook pleaded guilty to 26 charges of sexual abuse on six children between 1970 and 1978.

Sentencing Hook, Judge Kenneth MacCray said, “This is a sordid tale of depravity, self-gratification and corruption. It said that 23 years have passed and you have not reoffended in that period, but your victims have had to live with their memories of what you did to them most probably for every day that has passed. One can only hope that now they can begin to repair their shattered lives.”


‘Care home sex abuser jailed – Paedophile swimming instructor gets 10 year jail sentence’
UK Newsquest Regional Press – This is Local London, April 18th, 2001

April 18, 2001 8:45: A 63-year-old man was jailed for 10 years this week for sexually abusing young boys while employed by Lambeth Social Services.

William Alfred Hook from Great Yarmouth pleaded guilty to 26 charges including indecent assault and buggery at Kingston Crown Court on Wednesday last week.

The offences involved six children at several care homes, including four children sent by Lambeth Council to Shirley Oaks Childrens Home in Croydon. The offences took place between 1968 and 1975.

The court heard Hook worked as a swimming instructor at the homes where he befriended his victims who were all aged between 10 and 13.

Hook made the boys swim naked and insisted they kept the cubicle doors open while changing.

He then singled them out for what he described as special treatment.

The convictions were brought about as a result of Operation Middleton. This was a joint investigation by the Metropolitan Police and Lambeth Council into allegations of physical and sexual abuse in childrens homes in south London between 1974-1994.

Det Supt Andy Kay from Operation Middleton appealed to other victims of abuse to come forward. He said after the verdict: We are quite certain there are other victims out there and I would appeal to them to come forward.

Whatever the circumstances please make contact with the police so we can bring those who have abused the children placed in their care to justice.

Hook was eventually caught last year when the sister of one of his victims heard about Operation Middleton and urged her brother to come forward.

Police arrested Hook at his home in Great Yarmouth where they found a purpose-built cupboard described by prosecutor, Ms ONeill, as a secret shrine to his obsession with young boys.

Speaking in Hooks defence, Karim Khalil said his client was traumatised by his parents divorce as a child.

Though academically bright, winning a scholarship before joining the navy, he was bullied because of his homosexuality.

Mr Khalil said: His early experience led to him being isolated. He was different which was apparent to those around him and was pilloried for it.

He added Hooks cupboard was a hiding place to escape the temptation to abuse.
However Judge MacCrae said: This is a sordid tale of depravity. You have robbed these children of their innocence. You bought their affection or made them fearful, then abused them.

Over 20 years have passed but your victims have to live with what you did everyday.

Detectives from the Operation Middleton team are convinced Hook abused other victims, and are currently working with officials from Lambeth Council to investigate further.

Lisa Christiansen from Lambeth Council Social Services which was responsible for providing care for the victims also praised the result.

She said: We are pleased that justice has been carried out on behalf of the victims of Hook. We will continue to offer support to anyone who was a victim of abuse in Lambeths childrens homes in the past and we are committed to continuing our drive for improvements in the way we look after children in our care now. Above all we want our children to be safe.

Reports on Operation Middleton

Lambeth Independent Child Protection Inquiry 1999 Part 1
Lambeth Independent Child Protection Inquiry 1999 Part 2
Lambeth Independent Child Protection Inquiry 1999 Part 3

Operation Middleton 4th and final report (October 13th, 2003)

More information can be read at this blog


‘Were Islington and Lambeth paedophile rings connected?’, Spotlight, March 23rd, 2013

Throughout the 80s and early 90s, both Islington and Lambeth borough councils ran children’s homes that had been infiltrated by paedophiles.

Islington had paedophiles, pimps, or child pornographers in all 11 of its homes. Lambeth had a paedophile ring operating in up to 25 of its homes, and over 200 children were believed to have been victims of sexual abuse.

Both councils were Labour-controlled, Islington was led by Margaret Hodge, Lambeth by Ted Knight. The two London boroughs were also in close proximity, their borders being just a couple of miles apart.

London boroughs

Given the similarities between the two boroughs, it’s unbelievable that the police didn’t look for connections between the paedophile rings operating in Islington and Lambeth.

Islington council destroyed hundreds of files that could have provided links to child abuse in other children’s homes across the UK.

I was already aware of an Islington social worker called Abraham Jacob who was jailed in 1986 for his part in a paedophile ring centred at Piccadilly Circus. I’ve just found out that before working at Islington, Jacob was employed by Lambeth council in its Battersea children’s home.

Abraham Jacob

Abraham Jacob

Some may put this down to a coincidence. Another ‘coincidence’ is that one of the convicted abusers at Lambeth, Michael John Carroll, bought a hotel in Chirk on his release from prison. Chirk is just outside Wrexham, the location of one of the most notorious children’s home paedophile rings.


‘Update on the Lambeth Police Station ‘Sex Chamber’’, Spotlight, August 18th, 2013

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) have responded to a Freedom of Information request about the Lambeth Police Station ‘sex chamber’, first reported in a November 1997 article in the South London Press, and shared on Spotlight earlier this year. Original article

The FOI doesn’t provide much new information but confirms the accuracy of the South London Press story, i.e. there was a chamber (‘a small space’) underneath Lambeth Police Station , ‘certain items’ were found, and this prompted an investigation by Scotland Yard’s Criminal Investigations Bureau.

Logged on 11 Nov 1997:

“IF ASKED: Approx two weeks ago, a CIB investigation began after certain
items were found in a small space at an MPS building in Lambeth.

The building is mainly used by civil support staff.

There is no suggestion that police officers are involved in this matter,
or that anyone was taken there under duress.

There is no evidence that any sexual activity actually took place at the
premises.

IF ASKED: Can confirm there are no police officers involved.”

Logged on 14th Nov 1997:

“IF ASKED: There have been no suspensions icw this enquiry.

IF ASKED: There are no police officers based at Lambeth. The building is
entirely a base for civil staff departments.”

Please note that the abbreviation ‘icw’ means ‘in connection with’.

The searches at the DPS and Records Management Branch failed to locate
information relevant to your request. Please note that, owing to the time
that has elapsed since the investigation into this incident, any files
relevant to this case would have been destroyed in accordance with the MPS
disposal schedule. Disciplinary investigation files are destroyed 6 years
after the conclusion of the investigation.

The same person has now made another FOI request asking what items were found, and for details of the internal investigation.

Earlier this year the Mirror reported that the Metropolitan Police have reopened their investigation into a paedophile ring that operated in Lambeth Council children’s homes. DCI Clive Driscoll was removed from the original investigation and placed on a disciplinary after superiors learned that politicians, including an MP, were among the suspects. Full article

Five months on and there haven’t been any updates on the investigation.


OPERATION ORE


Daily Star, January 17th, 2003

Daily Star 170103 - 7 big names face child sex charges


‘Paedophiles beware’
The Herald (United Kingdom), January 18th, 2003

Paedophiles beware: the digital detectives are watching you;Story of the week ;Scene-of-crime teams who once dusted for fingerprints have turned their attention to hard-drives and web servers. Rebecca McQuillan meets the police teams who patrol the internet.

ONCE, not very long ago, child abusers thought that in the internet they had found a secret island where normal laws did not apply. A paedophile just home from work could drop his briefcase and walk up the stairs to his computer, past the muffled sound of cartoons through the lounge door, secure in the knowledge that even someone passing within feet of his bedroom door would never know he was consuming child pornography.Not any more. Paedophilestreading the dingy alleyways of cyberspace have started looking over their shoulders. Officers involved with the Operation Ore internet child pornography inquiry, the biggest British investigation of its kind, are investigating more than 7200 British suspects who visited a pay-per-view website peddling child pornography. Among them are a deputy prison governor, a civil servant at the London Assembly, several police officers, and The Who guitarist Pete Townshend, who has strongly protested his innocence. Whatever the final outcome of these investigations, Operation Ore has put one thing beyond doubt: that the mean streets and cyber byways of the worldwide web are now part of a police officer’s regular beat. Those who thought they could be anonymous on the internet have found they were very, very wrong.

Today, police computer crime officers can mount an operation from a quiet corner of an internet chatroom as if from a car parked outside a suspect’s house. The technology may be different but the methods are familiar.

Scene-of-crime teams who once dusted furniture for fingerprints have turned their attention to hard drives and web servers, where even the most experienced criminal leaves electronic fingerprints. With the correct software and expertise, police examining a suspect’s hard drive can piece together that person’s online transactions, including the websites they have visited, even where that information has been deliberately deleted.

Drop the hard disc in a bath of acid and police may still be able to track a criminal by information from internet service providers. The

electronic prairieland where once surfers roamed in relative freedom, secure in the knowledge no-one was watching, is now no longer beyond the reach of the law. The wild web may not have been won yet but the fight is on.

One man whose job it is to stalk the net paedophile is Detective Sergeant Charlie Cairns, of Strathclyde Police’s computer crime unit. His team, which works in association with the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (Scotland), set up in April, has three officers and three civilian technicians, and dealt

last year with more than 200 internet crimes, 65 of them related to paedophilia.

While crime in this area is on the increase, it has one useful characteristic: the evidence. ”There is almost always a trail with internet crime; it’s easier than other crimes in that respect,” says DS Cairns.

”You leave footprints all over the place on the internet,” says Colin Rose, of the Glasgow-based cybersecurity company, Iomart. ”People say no-one knows you on the internet, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.

”When you view a page, it’s like saying, can you send me a brochure? The sender has got to know where to send the information and what they have sent.”

Paedophiles kerb-crawling on the information superhighway may believe they are being lost in the throng of traffic but, to those who know what to look for, they are often not hard to spot.

One group which patrols the internet for offensive content is the Internet Watch Foundation, an independent group set up in agreement between the government, the police, and UK internet service providers. Members of the public who have accidentally entered sites with offensive content or newsgroups harbouring suspected paedophiles can tip off the IWF. Where there is suspicion of criminal activity, the police are informed and the internet service provider will be asked to shut the site down.

Credit card details sank those individuals now being investigated under Operation Ore. The numbers were unscrambled by FBI officers who had subpoenaed financial details of people visiting a child-porn website. In addition, the

hi-tech crime unit can gather intelligence proactively. Members of the public may also tip off the police about particular individuals.

Flipping back into realspace, the next step is to obtain a warrant from a sheriff and confiscate the computer, which is then examined by digital evidence recovery officers, the forensics officers for the digital age. The computer hard drive, in cyber terms, is the scene of the crime and, as with any other crime site, it must be carefully preserved in order to extract incriminating evidence.

They may not wield the tweezers of traditional forensics experts, but the work of these data recovery officers is as just as delicate and just as devastating.

The data recovery expert with the right specialist software can track the past activities of a paedophile almost as if he had been wearing an electronic tag. Every website a person visits is automatically stored in their browser for a certain period of time. It may then be ”deleted” but, in fact, it is allocated to ”slack” space on the drive, perhaps being fragmented in the process. There it remains.

It may, as the computer continues to be used, get overwritten in much the same way as tapes are recorded over. Nevertheless, fragments will remain, perhaps for months or even years. Using specially designed applications, data recovery experts, either working for private companies or attached to police forces, can retrieve that information even where it has been deliberately overwritten.

”We’re aware of software that can pick up everything you’ve done for five rewrites,” says Frank Glen, the hotline manager of the Internet Watch Foundation. ”If you got on your hard drive and wiped information, the police would be able to get it back.”

Even where copies of individual web pages have degraded, the browsing history, stored separately, will often remain waiting to be plucked from the hard drive like a diary from a desk.

Of course, there is always a danger of entering a website by accident. This, says Frank Glen, is a legitimate concern. But the paedophile who attempts to argue he has accessed pornography by accident could find himself on shaky ground. ”The forensics look at the history of a person’s activity. It could be that two sites out of 100 were accidents, if all you did was look at the front page of a site, whereas if you’ve looked at 100 sites and 98 of them are child-porn sites and you opened five pages on each, then there’s reasonable grounds for suspicion.”

Unlike a traditional crime scene, police also have the advantage of keeping the hard drive in perpetuity. Data recovery experts never work directly on the hard drive but make a copy of it first for investigation.

Obtaining the hard drive is a police priority, according to a spokeswoman for the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit in London. What, though, if the hard drive is not available? Those criminals who feel eyes on the back of their necks while heading through the portal of an illicit site may try to destroy the evidence physically.

That does not mean, however, that the paedophile who hides his computer is safe. Every computer browser has a unique address, an internet protocol, which can identify the user, and a website logs that address every time a person visits. Internet service providers, who work closely with the police, store information for a certain period of time for business purposes. Information that links names to internet protocols can, under Scottish common law, be accessed by police as part of a criminal investigation. Technically, says one data recovery expert, even where information held by an internet service provider has been fragmented and overwritten, it could be retrieved in a similar way as it would be from a personal computer.

So it is difficult for even a clever and technically-minded paedophile to cover his electronic tracks. However, such investigations are costly and time consuming. ”The problem is, do the police actually have the technology? In other words, do they have the resources they ought to have to address this growing problem?” asks Jim Reynolds, an independent consultant in child safety who was head of the paedophile unit at Scotland Yard until 1998. ”I suspect the answer is, not always.”

Pornography on the internet has grown at an alarming rate. Two years ago, Buchanan International, the Scottish security software firm, attempted to map 40 categories of illegal and undesirable activity on the web, from pornography to cyber-terrorism and hacking. It found that 20,000 new hosts for pornography sites were being created daily.

That is a lot of ground for the police to cover, hence the importance of initiatives such as the Internet Watch Foundation, that involves the public in tracking illicit sites.

But track it they will continue to do. The old deception of internet child pornography, that it is a victimless crime, has been swept away. The darkened rooms that form the backdrop for digital images of child porn are often the same darkened rooms where offenders sit, their faces lit only by the light of the screen. Footprints left in cyberspace can lead to those very doors.


‘Child porn arrests ‘too slow’
The Herald and The Sunday Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), January 19th, 2003

OPERATION Ore, the police inquiry which plans to arrest a further 7000 men across the UK, in addition to Who guitarist Pete Townshend, for buying child pornography online is set to end in disaster with many suspects walking free.Detective Chief Inspector Bob McLachlan, former head of Scotland Yard’s paedophile unit, told the Sunday Herald that the lack of urgency in making arrests will lead to suspects destroying evidence of downloading child pornography before they are arrested.The Sunday Herald has also had confirmed by a very senior source in British intelligence that at least one high-profile former Labour Cabinet minister is among Operation Ore suspects. The Sunday Herald has been given the politician’s name but, for legal reasons, can not identify the person. There are still unconfirmed rumours that another senior Labour politician is among the suspects. The intelligence officer said that a ”rolling” Cabinet committee had been set up to work out how to deal with the potentially ruinous fall-out for both Tony Blair and the government if arrests occur. Since the September 2002 Operation Ore arrest of Detective Constable Brian Stevens, a key officer in the inquiry into the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, the public have been aware that wanted suspects had downloaded child pornography from a US website called Landslide.

McLachlan, who was one of the main officers on Operation Ore before his retirement last year, said: ”Sufficient warnings have been given that if people haven’t got rid of their computers then they are either stupid, don’t believe they’ll be arrested or are so obsessive about their collections that they can’t destroy it. As time goes on, the chances of successful prosecutions will diminish with speed as the information out there must impact on the offenders.”

With only 1200 men arrested so far, McLachlan says that claims by police chiefs and the government that they were prioritising paedophile crime were ”smoke and mirrors”. Paedophilia is still not a priority on the Home Office’s National Policing Plan for 2003-06. McLachlan claimed that before he left Scotland Yard his team were under-staffed, over-worked, under-funded and reduced to using free software from computer magazines.

There are around one million images of an estimated 20,000 individual children being abused online. Some police seizures involve hauls of more that 180,000 images. Last year, images of 13,000 new children were uncovered. Only 175 child victims have been identified worldwide.

Police have also revealed that images of Fred West abusing one of his children are among child pornography available for downloading from the internet. It is unclear whether the child was West’s murdered daughter Heather.

Peter Robbins, the chief executive of the Internet Watch Foundation, which works with the police, government and internet service providers, in tackling paedophilia online, says software is in development which could remove child pornography from the net forever. The software should be ready in two years.

Police say that the list of rich and famous Operation Ore suspects would fill newspaper front pages for an entire year.


‘Slipping through the net’
The Herald and The Sunday Herald (Glasgow, Scotland, January 19th, 2003

Madeleine was just over three when her mother and father split up. It was the mid-90s and the wealthy French couple decided that Madeleine would spend one weekend a fortnight with her dad.After a few months, the bright, bubbly child started to act strangely. She began wetting the bed, tantrums became routine, she was withdrawn and her mother noticed Madeleine’s development – her language and social skills – almost ground to a halt.Assuming this was the result of the separation, Madeleine’s mother began gently questioning the child – trying to discover if there was something she could do to help.Her questions eventually led to the most shocking of claims from Madeleine. She told her mother she didn’t want to see her dad again. That when she went to his house a man would appear with a camera and big lights would go on. Madeleine said she had to ”do things” with her father, and if they didn’t do them right then the man with the camera would make them do them over and over again until he was happy.
Madeleine’s father’s house was a child pornography studio, and Madeleine was being made to perform in the movies that he and his friends were shooting and selling.

A police investigation followed, but French police in the city where Madeleine and her family lived (the Sunday Herald has been asked not to reveal the exact location) said that they had no proof of abuse. The child was never allowed to see her father alone again, but her mother remained desperate to find out whether these claims were true.

It took until April 2001 for her mother to discover that Madeleine’s picture were among 750,000 distributed within a secret internet ring which was smashed in the now infamous Wonderland case, when police in more than 13 countries swooped on addresses from California to Australia and arrested some 107 men.

Two years later, nobody has been prosecuted for raping and filming Madeleine. French police say the fact that her picture is among the Wonderland files is not enough to secure a conviction against her father.

Madeleine is one of an estimated 20,000 children who are pictured on the internet being raped and abused. Today, Operation Ore has become the biggest police inquiry yet into what police now call ‘abusive images of children’ – the expression ‘child pornography’ has been ditched as officers feel it doesn’t do justice to the severity of the crimes.

Operation Ore has sent Britain spiralling into the grip of the most widespread public hysteria over paedophilia since the murder of Sarah Payne in the summer of 2000. More than 1200 men have been arrested so far for downloading child pornography from the internet, including The Who guitarist Pete Townshend, and 6000 others are still to be questioned. A total of 700 men in Scotland are part of the inquiry. One senior police officer said that if he released the names of the rich and famous on the arrest list on a daily basis, The Sun would be guaranteed a front page every day for the next year. Intelligence sources have also told the Sunday Herald that one very prominent former Labour Cabinet minister is on the arrest list and there is speculation that a second senior Labour politician is involved.

Operation Ore stems from the 1999 arrest of a Texas couple running a website called Landslide. It was a gateway to both adult and child pornography to which subscribers – including the estimated 7200 men in the UK – paid a monthly fee. American federal agents found a list of 35,000 subscribers, which they sent to police forces across the world. Thomas Reedy, who ran Landslide, was given 1335 years in prison and his wife Janice was jailed for 14 years. Images sold via Landslide – which federal agents took over and ran for a short time as a sting operation – included pictures of children from the northwest of England being abused. Most of the child porn producers were based in Russia and Indonesia.

But there are problems with Operation Ore. According to Detective Chief Inspector Bob McLachlan, who recently retired as head of Scotland Yard’s paedophile unit, the biggest concern is that many of the men wanted for questioning may escape prosecution.

McLachlan, who was central to the running of Operation Ore in the UK until his retirement, fears the handling of the case so far could hamstring inquiries. Since the Operation Ore arrest in September 2002 of Detective Constable Brian Stevens, one of the officers who took part in investigating the Soham murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, the public have known every facet of the case: most importantly that anyone who subscribed to Landslide is a suspect. The delay in arresting all the suspects has also given the guilty the chance to destroy any evidence.

As McLachlan says: ”Sufficient warnings have been given that if people haven’t got rid of their computers then they are either stupid, don’t believe they’ll be arrested, or are so obsessive about their collections that they can’t destroy it. As time goes on, the chances of successful prosecutions will diminish.”

McLachlan says he doubts claims by his former boss, the Met’s deputy assistant commissioner Carol Howlett, that the remaining 6000 arrests can be made in nine months – the operation has been running since April last year. He believes lack of resources and manpower means British police are constantly playing catch-up with predatory paedophiles.

”I was constantly looking for new staff,” he says. ”My team was down to 17 people in 1999 and then 15 in 2000 – of those only three were able to do day-to-day work. This demoralises officers and it doesn’t do much for the kids either.”

McLachlan describes claims by the government and police chiefs that they are prioritising paedophile crime as ”smoke and mirrors”, and he worries that Operation Ore will become a ”cock-up”.

”Operation Ore cases are being dished out to Child Protection Teams and they don’t have the training to deal with predatory paedophiles – they deal with children beaten by their parents or sexually abused by their father, which are a totally different thing. Officers are massively under stress and the volume of Operation Ore cases is enormous.”

He questions why Ireland was able to arrest all its Operation Ore suspects in one go, and why Germany was able to pull in more than 1000 men in a day. ”The problem is that nobody owns the operation in the UK,” he says. Once the American authorities passed the details of the alleged offenders to Interpol in Lyon the information was relayed in turn to the National Criminal Intelligence Service. NCIS then divided up the 7000 men into geographical areas and sent ‘intelligence packages’ on them to the police force in their area. By now, however, many may have moved address.

Only three cities – London, Birmingham and Manchester – have dedicated paedophile units. ”The rest of the forces haven’t done this work – they haven’t a clue,” McLachlan adds. He also blames the government for failing to make paedophile crime a priority. The Home Office’s 2003-06 National Policing Plan does not prioritise child protection – instead it focuses on drugs and juvenile crime. McLachlan believes the government thinks issues like these give the ”best press”. It wasn’t until 2000 that paedophilia was listed – at McLachlan’s insistence – as an organised crime in the NCIS annual threat assessment

”The government has set what the priorities are and that has meant internet paedophilia going to the back of the queue,” he says. ”In the future someone will look back at these cases and see that during this delay one of the suspects was abusing kids then paedophilia will eventually become a priority.”

McLachlan says that the solution to this bureaucratic mess is a paedophile unit in every police force in the land. The catalogue of disasters just goes on, however. McLachlan had just two people working in his computer forensic section – a key part of the unit which provides the evidence on whether or not a suspect has accessed child porn.

”The labs are saturated,” he says. ”When I retired in May I had to close down the unit to any more work as I wasn’t being given any more staff and we couldn’t do the work. When I retired we were using software off the front of computer magazines and some staff were buying software out of their own pocket.” Just (pounds) 300,000 had been set aside for forensic examinations of computers.

”The impression has been created that an efficient machine is operating, but it isn’t,” he adds. McLachlan feels Britain isn’t ”pro-active” enough in hunting paedophiles. While FBI agents frequently go on-line posing as paedophiles or set up ‘honey-trap’ websites containing child porn, British police don’t. ”I proposed a sting operation back in 1998 and there just wasn’t the capacity for it,” he says.

Greater Manchester detective inspector Terry Jones is an old friend of McLachlan. They are two of most experienced and respected officers in the field of anti-paedophile policing – last year Jones, who has championed the pro-active hunt for paedophiles on the net, was given the International Long Arm of the Law Award for his work.

Despite the phenomenal success of his Manchester unit, he knows he’s only scratching the surface of paedophile computer crime. With just six officers under his command, he has seen seizures of child pornography jump from 12 images in 1995 to 41,000 in 1999. Since then, however, child pornography has grown at a terrifying rate. In 2001, his officers arrested one man who had 50,000 still images and three gigabytes of movies. This year a suspect was found with around 180,000 images. Arrests have included a teacher, an Olympic athlete, a school caretaker and scout leaders.

One of the benchmarks of Jones’s success is that his team have identified a number of victims – a near impossible task given that the rapes depicted could have happened anywhere on the planet. During Operation Sedan in 1999, images showing the sexual abuse of a four-year-old were circulated on the net. Jones’s team traced the victim to the UK, and the offender was given 12 years for rape.

For two months in 1999, his staff spent 60 hours online monitoring paedophiles and identified 16 suspects – a number of whom are now serving long sentences for rape and indecent assault on children. Jones’s most disturbing case, however, was another pro-active hunt named Operation Appal, in March 2001.

His team found 48 suspects in just 16 hours of monitoring internet chatrooms. ”Disturbingly several of the suspects were found to be under 17 years of age, including a boy of 13,” he said. One adult suspect, a Scout leader, was jailed for nine years for the repeated rape of a nine-year-old child in his care.

Of the abusive images, 80% are recorded in the victim’s home – and some 30-40% of abuse cases are perpetrated by teenage boys under 17, says Jones.

Until the net boomed in the mid-90s most child pornography dated to the period 1969-74, when Denmark legalised all forms of pornography, including child porn. It was then that the Lolita series of magazines by a firm called Rodox was produced. This pornography was the main material in constant circulation until paedophiles began posting pictures and films of their own crimes of abuse as the net took off.

”These abusive images of children were like sunken wrecks filled with dirty oil lying at the bottom of the sea – they were out there but nobody knew they existed,” says Jones. ”Then the net came along and it allowed all this filthy stuff to bubble to surface.”

Since the birth of the net, the number of new images online has spread like a virus. Max Taylor is professor of applied psychology at University College Cork and the director of Combating Paedophile Information Networks in Europe. He works hand-in-glove with senior officers like Terry Jones across the continent in profiling offenders and identifying victims, and has compiled a database of more than 500,000 child pornography images which he uses to support police investigations. Sadly, the database is rapidly expanding.

Last week, intelligence that his Copine team gathered, helped Greater Manchester Police and their counterparts in Thailand arrest a Briton, Robert Errol Wood, on suspicion of abusing young boys and producing child pornography. It’s small but significant successes like these that make the job of the Copine team bearable – nobody could face the daily horror of looking at images of child rape unless the end result was justice in the shape of an arrest.

In August and September last year, Taylor’s team found 35,000 new images – of those 6000 showed children being raped. The images of between 40 and 50 new children who have been abused are being posted online each month – mainly on American and Eastern European sites. Although the Far East is thought to be the epicentre of child pornography, Taylor reserves much of his ire for the US – the world’s biggest child-porn market. ”It’s been said if you nuked America out of existence, you’d nuke abusive images of children out of existence,” he says.

Most of the dreadful images contained on his database aren’t the results of children being snatched off the streets; the terrible banality is that the vast majority are domestically produced – meaning the child is the victim of a relative. Clues contained in the pictures – perhaps a date on a magazine cover or a particular style of furniture – can help men such as Jones and Taylor to locate both the rapist and the child victim.

In 1999, Taylor’s team located the images of around 2500 new children being abused. In 2002, they found the pictures of nearly 13,000 new individual children. Of these, around 25 have been identified in the UK, 50 in Europe and 100 in the US and the rest of the world. Among those identified was one of the children of Fred West, the British serial-killer. Police say the child is shown being abused by West. It is not known whether the child in the image is his daughter Heather, murdered by West. Whatever is contained in those pictures, it is probably the closest to ‘snuff’ that the world has ever seen. But who knows what else is out there?


Bob Long, ‘Inside the paedophile’s web’
The Sunday Times, January 19th, 2003

Bob Long has been following Operation Ore, the international investigation into child porn. He is shocked by an evil in everyday clothing.

Today was a pretty average work day. My alarm went off at 3am. By 4.30 I was in a London police station waiting to be briefed on the pre-dawn raids soon to start in a suburban street. By 5.30 two officers with a battering ram had made light work of the smart front door and detectives had arrested the householder, still in his pyjamas and trying to find his glasses. One minute he had been peacefully asleep with his wife, the next his life was over.

For the past six months I have shadowed Metropolitan police officers on Operation Ore, Britain’s biggest investigation into internet paedophilia which made the headlines last week with the arrest and release on bail of the Who guitarist Pete Townshend.

Operation Ore began in America almost three years ago when a postal inspector from Minnesota unearthed a members-only website run by a Texan couple. It offered access to thousands of child pornography websites for a fee of up to $29.95. Thomas and Janice Reedy were arrested and their computer equipment was seized. Among their records were 300,000 credit card numbers, 7,000 of them from Britain, which were divided up among police forces.

The scale of Ore is daunting. The Met has more than 1,000 names and has spread the work across 40 child protection teams. Officers reckon they have arrested only 10% of the list so far.

Each raid can take five detectives and specialist search teams an entire day, but that is only the start. Carloads of computers, printers, photographic equipment, books, letters, videotapes and computer discs have to be examined. A paedophile is not going to have a tape titled Rape of Six-year-old Girl. The label might say EastEnders and the first 30 minutes will be perfectly innocent, then vile scenes will start to play. Police computer experts will spend hours searching for downloaded images.

It’s the sheer ordinariness of the men that gets you. In one raid on a man who worked at a school, his wife came and offered me a cup of tea. In another, a middle-aged, middle-class couple let us in. While the police searched every nook and cranny, she stared at her husband, wondering who she had been living with for all those years. Suddenly she clutched her chest and rushed out of the room. Then she reappeared looking slightly happier, wearing her pearls – as though clutching at the one bit of normality that remained.These are well-connected people with nice houses and good jobs. Pretty much every profession is represented, including doctors, high-ranking civil servants and police officers, ranging from teenagers to 80-year-olds.

As I learnt over the two years I spent filming The Hunt for Britain’s Paedophiles, child abusers are collectors by nature, which is often their downfall. It may have taken them years to “groom” children to the point where they can abuse them, and they’re not going to miss any opportunity to take pictures.

The documentary followed Operation Doorknock, a two-year investigation into a paedophile ring involving up to 20 men. One had secret cupboards behind skirting boards and a hidden room in his house; another, Julian Levene, had a storage unit stuffed with photographs, letters, tapes, even recorded telephone conversations with children. One letter read: “Dear Julian, thanks for taking me swimming and for fixing my stapler, love Victoria.” One can only imagine the horror that lies beneath those few words.We catch up with these men in two follow-up programmes to be shown later this month. The first series prompted 25,000 calls to the audience helpline. People often ask me how I cope with the images I see. You tune out, you go home, you get up the next morning and get back to work. I have counselling about once a month. I don’t have children, which probably makes it easier.

What I find more difficult to deal with are my feelings towards these men. They will be sacked from their jobs and their friends and families will shun them. Part of you feels sorry for them and you can’t help this. Paedophiles are charming people – they can’t succeed in paedophilia unless children like them. But Levene had abused more than 100 children – so what was I doing feeling sorry for him?

The high-profile names caught up in Operation Ore might be the ones in the headlines but the painstaking work goes on, day in, day out, behind closed doors.


Rebecca Smithers, ‘Staff at public school in child porn inquiry’
The Guardian, January 25th, 2003

Two teachers at Millfield, the Somerset public school, have been suspended after being questioned by the police as part of the nationwide Operation Ore investigation of child pornography.

The two, who have not been named, were interviewed by Somerset and Avon police at the end of last week. The school notified parents of their suspension by letter yesterday.

About two-thirds of pupils at the mixed school are boarders; it is understood that no pupil is involved in the allegations.

Headteacher Peter Johnson said: “Two Millfield school members of staff were interviewed by the police last Friday [January 17] in connection with the possible accessing of child pornography on the internet. They have been suspended pending the completion of the police inquiry. There is no suggestion that these inquiries, which are part of Operation Ore, have anything to do with Millfield school pupils.”

A spokesman for the school said that one of the teachers was relatively new to the school. “The head is understandably very concerned about this, which is why he took the decision to suspend the staff.”

Avon and Somerset police confirmed that a 32-year-old man from Street and a 43-year-old man from Wells had been arrested on suspicion of possessing and making indecent images of children, and been given police bail; computers had been seized and were being examined.

Ministers, MPs and judges are understood to be among others under investigation by Operation Ore. Earlier this month Jonathan Collard, head of geography at Great Walstead, a prep school in West Sussex, resigned after he was questioned.


Robert Winnett and Gareth Walsh, ‘Net closes on child porn suspects’
The Sunday Times, January 26th, 2003

ON page after page the names unfold with numbing regularity in one of the most disturbing social documents of our time: a list of those suspected of paying to see computer images of children engaged in sex.

They are mostly ordinary names at ordinary addresses. Mr X at 74 such-and-such Avenue, Mr Y at 46 so-and-so Drive (they are nearly all men). They live in average homes in suburban roads from Chichester to Aberdeen, from Tiverton to Newcastle upon Tyne.

Outwardly they probably lead respectable lives but behind their front doors, in the solitude of the rooms where they keep their computers, they pay to become voyeurs in a cyber-world of depravity.

This is the list, compiled by investigators at the US Postal Inspection Service, of British people who have paid to access websites displaying graphic images of child abuse and bestiality. There are more than 7,200 of them, but the document runs to 1,000 pages because the entries log details of different user names and the frequency of their visits.

Then, as you scan down the list, names begin to jump out: senior business executives, a television producer, a historian at a top university. A few names are clearly false – used merely for cover – but in most cases, including that of Pete Townshend, the guitarist with the Who who has admitted accessing a child pornography site for research purposes, the names, credit card details and addresses do match. Fictitious “user names” can be used, but paying requires a genuine credit card, which has led police to their true owners.

A famous newspaper columnist is named, along with a song writer for a legendary pop band and a member of another chart-topping 1980s cult pop group. A well known City PR man and a management guru appear, along with an official with the Church of England.

Personnel at military bases are also represented: people logged on to the paedophile sites from Mildenhall, Suffolk, Buchan, near Peterhead, Scotland, Strike Command in High Wycombe, Waddington in Lincolnshire and Leeming in North Yorkshire.

For weeks rumours have circulated that the names of two Labour ministers appear on the list; but, other than obviously false names, none does.

The suspects come from all areas and all sorts of professions – the law, publishing, the civil service and teaching, including two staff members at Millfield, the private school in Somerset, who were recently arrested (after which the school made it clear that the police inquiry had nothing to do with pupils). A large number of entries appear to be merchant bankers, City lawyers, high- flying accountants and company executives.

A geographical analysis of names with addresses suggests that two-thirds are based in London and the southeast. The stockbroker town of Guildford, with a population of 130,000, has 10 people thought to have accessed child porn websites. Reading has 30 suspects, Southampton 15, Milton Keynes 14 and Brighton and Hove 12. The area around Cambridge, with a population of just over 100,000, has 20 people appearing on the list, with several in the small town of St Neots.

All the suspects are said to have used their credit cards to pay a Pounds 21 monthly fee to Landslide Productions, the Texas firm that provided them with links to 300 pay-per-view child pornography websites.

With titles such as Cyber Lolita and Child Rape, the sites were so explicit that they shocked even the most seasoned detectives. An eight-year-old girl and her six-year-old brother, both from Manchester, are among the few youngsters so far identified. A Scotland Yard officer said they had been abused by their stepfather and photographed in sex acts.

The US inquiry began three years ago and investigators face a mountainous task in corroborating the details. Forces across Britain have spent seven months working through the names of those in their area. So far more than 1,200 have been arrested. Hundreds more will be questioned in the next few weeks, their homes and offices searched and their computers seized. Some users accessed the sites only once. But many on the list cannot argue that they did not know what they would be viewing: the records show that some accessed the internet service at least 50 times.

The investigation into the “master list” of 7,272 British suspects, drawn from an estimated 75,000 international subscribers, is known as Operation Ore. Detectives privately admit that in its early stages it was mismanaged and that a shortage of resources led to a huge logjam at police forensic science laboratories, where seized computers are examined.

“It was a shambles,” said one senior Scotland Yard detective. The National Criminal Intelligence Service initially focused on suspects who had most frequently accessed the site. Only later did senior officers realise that they needed to concentrate first on those who posed the greatest threat to children.

Officers then divided the suspects into three groups. The highest priority was given to anyone who had access to children, a previous conviction or who was on the sex offenders’ list. The second category covered those in a position of official authority. The third and largest group covers those who are not regarded as posing a direct risk to children.

Operation Ore has already ensnared the majority of those in categories one and two. They include teachers, barristers, solicitors, university lecturers, hospital consultants, a deputy prison governor, a senior Treasury civil servant and 50 policemen (including two involved in the investigation into the murder of two girls in Soham, Cambridgeshire, last year).

But police have hardly begun approaching those in category three, which contains some 6,000 apparently respectable members of society.


Adam Nathan and David Leppard, ‘City bosses named on child porn list’
The Sunday Times, January 26th, 2003

SOME of the City’s leading businessmen are named on a confidential list compiled in an international police inquiry into internet child pornography.
The list of 7,272 British names has been obtained by The Sunday Times. It includes at least 20 senior executives in pharmaceuticals, stockbroking, manufacturing and retailing, at least seven of whom are thought to be multimillionaires.

They are among those caught by the American authorities using their credit cards to pay for graphic pictures of children as young as six being abused. The 1,000-page list, which was passed to British police last summer, details the names, addresses and the number of subscriptions paid to child porn websites.
Disclosure of the names to The Sunday Times is likely to prompt a major leak inquiry within the British police and other organisations in the UK supplied with the list.

It is also likely to renew concerns over the policing of the internet and the slow pace of the inquiry which has seen fewer than a third of those listed arrested.

Names on the list include:The former chairman of one of the City’s biggest firms of stockbrokers.

A senior director of a well known drinks company. Contacted at home last week, he hung up when asked why his name was on the list.

A millionaire business colleague of one of Britain’s best-known entrepreneurs.

A director of one of the country’s biggest construction companies.

A prominent City PR man who acts as an intermediary between boardrooms, the media and the government. He said last week that police had not visited his home.

A former director of one of the world’s biggest pharmaceuticals companies.A senior partner at a multinational accountancy firm.
A top executive at a large manufacturing company.

The Sunday Times has decided not to identify the businessmen because the police have still not interviewed them or made arrests in most cases.

Others on the list include a senior teacher at an exclusive girls’ public school, services personnel from at least five military bases, GPs, university academics and civil servants. Many are married and respected members of their local communities.

The identities of suspects had been a closely guarded secret. Fewer than 50 of the 2,000 arrested have so far been named in the British inquiry – Operation Ore. The list was generated after an inquiry by the US Postal Inspection Service in 1999 into a pay-per-view child porn website in Texas.


Counterpunch, January 29th, 2003

Alleged Pedophiles Helm Blair’s War Room
Are Pedophiles Running Blair’s War Machine?

by MIKE JAMES

A child-sex scandal that threatened to destroy Tony Blair’s government last week has been mysteriously squashed and wiped off the front pages of British newspapers. Operation Ore, the United Kingdom’s most thorough and comprehensive police investigation of crimes against children, seems to have uncovered more than is politically acceptable at the highest reaches of the British elite. In the 19th of January edition of The Sunday Herald, Neil Mackay sensationally reported that senior members of Tony Blair’s government were being investigated for paedophilia and the “enjoyment” of child-sex pornography:

“The Sunday Herald has also had confirmed by a very senior source in British intelligence that at least one high-profile former Labour Cabinet minister is among Operation Ore suspects. The Sunday Herald has been given the politician’s name but, for legal reasons, can not identify the person.

There are still unconfirmed rumours that another senior Labour politician is among the suspects. The intelligence officer said that a ‘rolling’ Cabinet committee had been set up to work out how to deal with the potentially ruinous fall-out for both Tony Blair and the government if arrests occur.”

The allegations are the most serious yet levelled at an administration that prides itself on the inclusion in its ranks of a high quota of controversial and flamboyant homosexual men, and whose First Lady, Cherie Blair, has come under the spotlight for her indulgence in pagan rituals that resemble Freemasonic rites. Unconfirmed information also suggests that the term “former Labour Cabinet minister” is misleading and that the investigation has identified a surprisingly large number of alleged paedophiles at the highest level of British government, including one very senior cabinet minister

The Blair government has responded by imposing a comprehensive blackout on the story, effectively removing it from the domain of public discussion. Attempts on the part of this journalist to establish why the British media has not followed up on the revelations have met with a wall of silence. Editors and journalists of The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent, The Sunday Times, The Observer, The Sunday Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Daily Express, The Mirror, The Sun, the BBC, Independent Television News and even The Sunday Herald have refused to discuss the matter.

Speaking from London, freelance journalist Bob Kearley told me:

“Whether or not a D-Notice has been issued is not clear. But based on some of the feedback I’ve been getting it’s apparent that editors and media owners have voluntarily agreed not to cover the story at this time. Operation Ore is still being reported, but not in regard to government ministers, and it’s taking up very few column inches on the third or fourth page. Don’t forget that the intelligence services are involved here, and Blair is anxious to ensure that the scandal does not rock the boat at a time when the country is about to go to war.”

“You can imagine the effect this would have on the morale of troops who are about to commit in Iraq. In fact morale is reportedly quite low anyway, with service personnel throwing their vaccines into the sea en route to the battlefront and knowing how unpopular the war is with the British people. And a lot of squaddies I’ve met think there’s something weird going on between Bush and Blair. If you’re then told that the executive responsible for the conduct of the war is staffed by child-molesters … well, then Saddam suddenly looks like the sort of bloke with whom you can share a few tins [beer].”


Dominic Herbert, ‘Student ‘surfed for porn using XXXX’s name’’
News of the World, 2nd February 2003

A WELSH student has been quizzed by cops for allegedly surfing child porn sites using the name of former Cabinet minister XXXXX XXXXXX.

He has been targeted as part of the Operation Ore probe into more than 7,000 British users of a sick internet portal in America.

And before moving in on him, cops had to carry out a top-level secret inquiry to make sure Mr XXXXX was not involved.

Police working their way through a suspects list supplied by the FBI were stunned to find the former Trade Secretary’s name.

Several high-profile figures, including rock legend Pete Townshend, had already become embroiled in the investigation.

But police found that Mr XXXXX’s name had only been given when a site called Real Lolita was entered. There was a different name on the credit card used to access pictures of sex abuse involving children as young as six.

They raided the student’s home in west Wales and took away his computer for examination. So far nothing has been found.

There is no suggestion that the real XXXXX XXXXXXX is involved.

A police source said: “There was an immediate top level and very discreet inquiry carried out when Mr XXXXX’s name came up.

“This is the difficulty of this operation when people use false names.”

A relative of the student said: “There’s no way he did this. What I think has happened is that someone has stolen our credit card details and used them to get on to this site.”


‘5000 may escape Operation Ore dragnet’
The Herald and The Sunday Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), May 8th, 2003

Homes and workplaces across the UK will continue to be raided in connection with Operation Ore.So far, there have been fewer than 2000 arrests out of a total of more than 7200 suspects, including Pete Townshend.

The burden in coping with such numbers is such that up to 5000 may escape prosecution – because they have destroyed evidence, or been subject only to formal warnings, or they have logged on to pornographic websites but not downloaded the pictures.

Examining just one computer can take months, and cost up to (pounds) 2000 a machine, and in reality police are dealing with cases already four years old.

In Scotland, police remain silent on the number of raids and arrests since the names and credit card details of 7272 UK-based subscribers were passed to British police forces last summer. There are more than 700 on the Scottish list, following a US-based ”sting” after the arrest of owners of a pay-per-view child pornography website based in Texas.

Strathclyde is doubling the size of its computer crime unit, albeit from three to seven IT specialists, in the wake of the growing workload.

Two British men were arrested as part of an international crackdown on an internet paedophile network in a series of raids carried out yesterday.

Premises in five countries, including the UK, were searched and 21 people arrested, with some being interviewed in connection with making and distributing indecent images of children.

The men arrested in Britain – a 36-year-old retail manager from Worcestershire and a 51-year-old from Northamptonshire – were being questioned at an undisclosed location.


‘Policing in the round’
Daily Telegraph, 26th August 2003

Two former heads of Scotland Yard’s dedicated anti-paedophile unit have attacked proposals to limit to three years, on health grounds, the amount of time officers serve in the squad.

Bob McLachlan has said this would “put policing of predatory paedophiles back 10 years”. Mike Hames said that to deprive the unit of its most experienced officers would cause it to “wither on the vine”.

If, as Mr Hames seems to believe, the unit will be instantly reduced from 12 officers to three, that certainly is a matter for the gravest concern. But it seems inconceivable – and the Met denies – that this would be the course taken.

Rather, officers chosen to be transferred out would be replaced by experienced officers, extensively trained.

Two things are at issue: the welfare of the officers, and the effectiveness of the police. There is, Mr Hames says, no evidence that routine exposure to images of child sexual abuse psychologically damages officers in the unit. But nor is it likely that decisive evidence will be produced in what is, effectively, a tiny statistical sample.

The presumption that images of torture will at best depress and at worst deprave the average person is, however, reasonable – and it is one of the presumptions underlying the pursuit not only of those who make, but of those who consume, paedophile pornography.

When it comes to the effectiveness of the paedophile squad, we would be unwise to ignore the warnings of two of its former heads. But we should add the caveat that in any large organisation specialists tend to form priesthoods and to resent central control.

Decisions taken about individual units need to be taken against a background of the shifting picture of crime in the country, on the basis of limited resources.

Child abuse in this country is not, despite what the News of the World would have us believe, an epidemic. The internet has, undoubtedly, facilitated a growth in the availability of child pornography. Its chat rooms have provided a new way for paedophiles to seek contact with children (and, in turn, for undercover police officers to intercept them in the process).

But the sexual abuse, torture and murder of children remain, though uniquely horrible, comparatively rare crimes.

However difficult it is to do so in this country and at this time, the problem should be viewed in the round – something which those higher up the chain of command at the Met may be in a better position to do than even such distinguished officers as Messrs McLachlan and Hames.


Community Care, c. 2004

Community Care 2004


Operation Ore, 2004 documentary


Paedophile net: Did Operation Ore change British society?
By Jon Kelly & Tom de Castella
BBC News Magazine, 17th December 2012

It was the UK’s biggest ever computer crime investigation. Thousands of people were accused of downloading images of child abuse – some were found to be innocent. The legacy is controversial. Ten years after the raids began, has Operation Ore really changed the UK?

On a cold, cloudy December day in 2002, Jonathan was about to take his class of children to chapel. His life as he knew it was about to end.

His headmaster appeared at the door and asked him to go with him. “There are two policemen who want to talk to you,” he said.

The school where Jonathan taught geography was an unlikely place for police officers to turn up. A private prep school set in extensive grounds, it offered education to boys and girls from nursery age to 13.

Jonathan had a secret life. Living alone, he didn’t think he would be unmasked. “I’d been trying to be as private and quiet as possible. I had two separate lives.”

His dark side was about to be exposed. The waiting police told him they had found online payment records linking him to child abuse websites.

“I admitted it straight away,” he recalls. “Once the game was up there was no point trying to hide it.”

He was stunned at being exposed. He had heard about paedophiles being arrested but thought he was different. “I thought everything was very personal, all kept in my own mind and computer. It was a devastating shock to see I had been found out.”

That afternoon he watched as a team of officers searched his home, a prefabricated building in a secluded spot in the school grounds. They took away his computer and VHS cassettes to a police van. “I was blank. I remember feeling cold. The front door was open and they were moving stuff in and out.”

He was taken to his local police station, where he was arrested and put in a cell. The news was beginning to sink in. “I thought, ‘My life is at an end, what is the point?'”

Jonathan, 57, recalls being released on bail late that night and taken home by the headmaster: “He was tight-lipped. For him it must’ve been awful.” Over the next few days, he wished he would die.

The teacher’s capture was repeated in different ways thousands of times across the UK during the first decade of the 21st Century. This was Operation Ore.

Details of 7,272 Britons whose credit cards had apparently been used to purchase child abuse images were passed to officers by their counterparts in the US.

The seriousness of the allegations, the fear that children were at risk, and the sheer number of leads put huge pressure on the authorities to act quickly.

What followed was the largest investigation of its kind.

It put under scrutiny the intimate online browsing habits of individuals from all walks of life. The suspects included police officers, doctors, teachers and celebrities.

Household names like rock star Pete Townshend and actor Chris Langham were among those implicated.

Local newspapers, too, began to fill up with reports about normal-looking men who, in the privacy of their own home, were allegedly browsing obscene images of children. In the worst cases, children were shown being raped.

By the time the Ore prosecutions concluded, 1,837 convictions had been secured and 710 cautions handed out, according to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop).

The sheer scale of the operation had tested the police. “In the early days there was a feeling of being overwhelmed,” admits Jim Gamble, former chief executive of Ceop.

The countless headlines these raids generated, experts believe, transformed popular perceptions of what a sex offender looked like and did.

As the reports of court cases proliferated, the public increasingly became familiar with hitherto obscure terms from the world of child protection. The Sentencing Advisory Panel scale, used to categorise indecent images for seriousness according to grades one to five, is now a regular part of newspaper court reports.

The raids coincided with mounting public concern about the amount of sexual material accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

For those behind it, the investigation was a success. It raised awareness of exploitation and led to 154 children being protected from abuse, according to Ceop.

“People thought they could go online and wouldn’t be held to account,” says Gamble. “They believed the internet was a labyrinth that was too difficult for the police.”

Critics, however, raised questions about the police’s handling of the inquiry. Some said potential credit card fraud had not been properly investigated and the reputations of innocent men had been destroyed as a result. Others feared the inquiry had contributed to an atmosphere of moral panic in which paedophiles, or potential paedophiles, lurked in every corner.

What is clear is that Ore helped define Britain’s relationship with the internet at a time when its use in people’s homes was exploding. As recently as March 2003 just 15.3% of people had broadband, according to the Office for National Statistics. By this year, Ofcom put the figure at 76%.

The raw material of Operation Ore came from the US.

In August 1999, dozens of US law enforcement agents raided an office and a house in Fort Worth, Texas. They belonged to Thomas and Janice Reedy.

Thomas Reedy, a nurse turned self-taught computer programmer, had set up an online pornography operation called Landslide Productions. His wife was his book-keeper.

The company provided a portal to about 3,000 sites as well as online payment services. Among those using its systems were a number of third-party sites, typically hosted outside the US, offering images of child abuse.

One site connected with Landslide was called Child Rape. A series of pictures linked to from the site showed fathers having sex with their own children.

A jury found Thomas Reedy guilty of trafficking indecent images of children in January 2000. He was sentenced to 1,335 years in prison – later reduced to 180 on appeal – and Janice Reedy to 14.

In the wake of the raids, US authorities set up an investigation called Operation Avalanche to examine the 35,000 names on Landslide’s database. The Federal Bureau of Investigation then shared the details of subscribers from overseas with law enforcement agencies in the relevant countries.

There was Operation Snowball in Canada, Operation Pecunia in Germany, Operation Amethyst in Ireland and Operation Genesis in Switzerland.

When more than 7,000 names of British suspects were passed to UK authorities, it quickly became apparent that investigating them would be a huge undertaking.

With home internet use expanding, there had been warnings in the media that the internet could be a dangerous place.

There had been a few high-profile convictions for downloading indecent footage and pictures of children – such as that of Gary Glitter, jailed in 1999 after thousands of images were discovered on his laptop.

In the media and the popular imagination paedophiles were portrayed as outsiders, one of society’s most frightening manifestations of the dangerous other.

Never before had there been a suggestion that so many ordinary individuals from across the country were regularly viewing this kind of material. Ordinary people like Jonathan.

Today he is filled with remorse. “Hardly a day goes by without me looking back and regretting what I did.”

In the early stages of his teaching career he had rented adult pornographic videos. But with the internet his habit became more and more warped. “It got more and more addictive and developed into child pornography. It was mainly pre-teen girls. The longer it went on the worse it got,” he says.

Looking back he says that he was extremely lonely. “My sexual feelings were completely bottled up and internalised. I never felt I could develop proper relationships among [people] my own age. My thoughts then became, ‘What if they were sexually immature?’ It was that kind of disastrous attitude that led to my downfall.”

At his trial he admitted downloading more than 5,000 images and pleaded guilty to making and possessing indecent photographs. The judge described his activities as “evil and sordid”.

He was sentenced to two years in jail and ordered to sign the sex offenders register for 10 years.

In August 2003 he was in prison, in a wing for sex offenders and drug addicts. He could hear the threats and insults from prisoners in other parts of the jail. “Any chance the other prisoners got to shout at us they would. I was crying most nights.”

In November that year he was transferred to HMP Whatton, a prison dedicated to treating sex offenders. He found the atmosphere less threatening and attempted to change his life. “I joined the choir and got involved in the Bible study group. I was trying to identify what I felt before and how the victims would have felt.”

Previously, the largest UK investigation of online child abuse material had been Operation Cathedral, an inquiry into a paedophile ring called the Wonderland Club which resulted in the convictions of seven British-based men.

Dealing with cases such as Jonathan’s and the sheer volume of Operation Ore was a task of an altogether different magnitude.

“It’s an irony that this was called Landslide because it provided the police with an avalanche of data,” says David Wall, professor of criminology at the University of Durham.

“Very suddenly the British police were given a whole lot of data which looked like quite conclusive evidence of wrongdoing. They had to respond, but I’m not sure they had the full response capability.”

Realising quickly they would have to prioritise suspects, the National Crime Squad began by dividing them into three categories. The top priority group – of about 1,200 names – included convicted paedophiles and those with access to children.

The second category was made up of those in positions of authority, such as police officers, and the third was those neither in authority nor involved with children.

Once identified, details of the “phase ones” were sent out first to local constabularies who took on responsibility for conducting the investigations. The Fraud Squad assumed the task in some forces where it was judged to have the greatest online expertise.

After months of preparation, the raids began in May 2002. Some 36 people were arrested in the initial swoop. At first it attracted little attention.

Operation Ore began to generate national headlines the following September when it led to the arrest of Det Con Brian Stevens, who had been a family liaison officer to the parents of Jessica Chapman, a 10-year-old murdered along with friend Holly Wells by Soham killer Ian Huntley.

Stevens was acquitted of possessing and distributing indecent images, although he was later jailed for providing a false alibi.

Subsequent raids attracted huge publicity. The arrests of professionals such as teachers, police officers and doctors were splashed across the national press. Newspapers began to speculate about how high up in society the inquiry would reach.

And then in January 2003 came the arrest of Pete Townshend. The Who guitarist said he had given his credit card details to a paedophile website because he was researching a book and insisted he had not downloaded any images. He accepted a police caution, and Ore claimed its first celebrity.

Others followed. In 2007, actor Chris Langham was jailed after the Ore investigation led officers to search his computer, where they found images of child abuse. Actor Adam Barker, son of comedian Ronnie Barker, was jailed for 12 months in October 2012. He had spent eight years on the run after his initial arrest.

Chris Langham

Chris Langham

Bafta-winning comedy star of People Like Us, The Thick of It and Not The Nine O’Clock News

Found guilty in 2007 on 15 charges of downloading child pornography, and sentenced to 10 months in jail, reduced to six on appeal

Langham has struggled to find work since his release: “Everyone wants to see me working again, but nobody wants to hire me,” he told the Guardian last year.


Pete Townshend

Pete Townshend

Rock guitarist with The Who, writer of hits such as Pinball Wizard, Substitute and Won’t Get Fooled Again.

Accepted a police caution in 2003 and was put on sex offenders
register for limited period, after admitting using his credit card to access a child pornography website.

Townshend has never denied looking at the site but in his recent memoirs, he says he was researching child abuse online: “What I did was wrong and stupid… but my innocence is absolute”.



By and large these men did not fit the profile of sex offenders hitherto portrayed in the media. Those who attracted the most attention tended to be successful and socially secure. A majority lived with a partner or were in a relationship.

“You can’t look at someone and say they are a paedophile,” says computer forensics expert Peter Sommer, visiting professor at De Montfort University’s Cyber Security Centre and a witness in numerous Operation Ore trials. “They really do come from every section of society.

“But one of the effects of the internet is that it’s far easier for paedophiles to meet in hidden places. Whereas before the paedophile might have been socially isolated, they are able to meet people like them so they think it’s more normal.”

Despite the high profile the investigation was attracting, there was evidence that the huge weight of cases was a problem for the authorities.

In May 2004, a report by the IPPR think tank found that just 1,000 of the UK’s 140,000 police officers were trained to handle digital evidence at the basic level. Later the same year, Scotland’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary warned the sheer scale of Ore was causing “significant” difficulties for forces.

“Police have accepted they were premature in publicising the existence of the Landslide database,” Sommer says. “They were finding people were deleting stuff. In subsequent cases they have been much more careful.”

Ministers provided extra funding. In April 2006, Ceop was launched and given responsibility for co-ordinating the inquiry. Under the leadership of Gamble, Ceop agreed a system whereby forces could share the burden of investigating cases with each other.

But for those working on it, the toll taken by the investigation was not purely about workload.

For many, the disturbing nature of the material they were investigating left deep scars.

Every time a child cried out in the street, one detective would be reminded of the screams of victims in footage seized from offenders’ computers. Civilian experts were also affected.

“There were times when I had to stop and go for a walk and clear my head because the material was fairly distressing,” says Sommer.

“I became inured to the fact that there are people who look at this stuff. If I had got emotionally involved I would have ended up in a loony bin.”

For some of those arrested, the shame of being labelled a paedophile, a sex offender – society’s most reviled groups – was too much to bear.

In 2009, it was reported that the number of men who took their own lives was as high as 39.

There was much coverage of Commodore David White, who was stripped of his command of British forces in Gibraltar in January 2005 after he came under investigation. The following day he was found drowned in a swimming pool at his home. A coroner recorded an open verdict.

Many would have little sympathy for those accused of viewing images of children being abused. But it became clear that not all those caught up in the initial sweep were guilty.

On 25 February 2003, Robert Del Naja of the band Massive Attack was arrested. His home in Bristol was searched and his computer seized. The story was covered extensively in the British press. Exactly one month later, the charges against him were dropped.

Del Naja’s details were on the Landslide database, but the musician was innocent. He had been the victim of credit card fraud. The issue of identity theft became the biggest controversy to dog Operation Ore.

It was 06:40 on 30 October 2003 when Jeremy Clifford was woken by a knock on the door.

On his front step in Watford were three police officers. They had a warrant to search the house. They wanted to know where his computers were kept.

Shaken, he led them inside. The search team quickly began to open every drawer, cupboard and box. They rifled through all his photographs. The house was turned upside down.

The detectives did not say why he was being raided. But his wife spotted a sheet of paper carried by one of the officers. It said they were looking for indecent images of children.

She recalls her shock at seeing the phrase. “I just wanted to score right through it,” she says.

There were no computers in the house. But at Clifford’s wedding photography and camera equipment firm, computers, photographs and videotapes were seized.


The falsely accused

Jeremy Clifford and Faith

  • Jeremy Clifford – pictured with his wife Faith – successfully sued the police for wrongful arrest
  • He says he was a victim of identity theft
  • A fraudulent credit card issued in his name had been used to pay Landslide



Eventually he was taken to the police station and told he was accused of purchasing child abuse images. At first he felt indignant. But then the enormity of the charges facing him began to sink in.

“The shock hit me after they’d finished with me,” Clifford, now 52, says. “I was in a very bad state by the time I got home. But it got worse and worse over the next few months.”

His credit card had been used five times to pay Landslide. But Clifford claimed he was a victim of identity theft.

The case against him would be dropped before it came to trial, but not for another 18 months.

Detectives had found 10 thumbnail images of children – classed as category one, the lowest level on the scale – in the temporary internet files folder of a computer he had sold to a former business associate. A forensic expert later concluded these images had probably appeared as pop-up adverts without Clifford requesting them or even being aware they were stored on the machine.

n the time it took for the prosecution to come to a halt, however, Clifford spiralled into depression. He would lie in bed all day with the curtains closed. Eventually, his business failed.

Throughout, his greatest terror was that the allegations against him would be reported in the media. After each pre-trial court appearance, he and his wife – who never doubted his innocence – would scour the local papers to make sure nothing had been written about the case.

“That would have been the final straw,” he says. “It’s the worst thing a man can be accused of. It’s worse than murder.”

Eventually, in 2010, Clifford won £30,000 in damages and costs in excess of £750,000 at the High Court from Hertfordshire Constabulary for malicious prosecution.

“With regards to the matter of the constabulary being sued by Mr Clifford for malicious prosecution, we took legal advice to defend the action and went to court,” a spokeswoman for Hertfordshire Constabulary says. “We were successful at the first trial – however the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial which we lost.”

Since then Clifford has built up a new business and left his ordeal behind. His wife has written a book about the couple’s brush with Operation Ore.

The issue of credit card fraud was the subject of a series of articles by the investigative journalist Duncan Campbell.

Campbell found evidence that the hosts of third-party webpages linked to from Landslide had used the portal to process payments to themselves from stolen cards.

When someone signed up to one of these sites via Landslide, the owners were passed 65% of the fee. But crucially, in the event of fraudulent credit card use being detected, Thomas Reedy was liable for any penalties.

In other words, if a credit card company tried to recoup funds from a fraudulent transaction, Reedy would have to pay rather than the fraudsters operating the third-party sites. Landslide became a magnet for fraud.

Indeed, Reedy’s company had gone out of business in the weeks prior to the initial US raid because of the extent of suspicious payments.

Critics of Operation Ore argued that police had been too gung-ho in raiding so many properties without checking first whether images of abuse had actually been purchased. In contrast to Ore, the US Operation Avalanche resulted in around 100 arrests following 144 searches from a database of 35,000 transactions.

It is a charge vigorously contested by Ceop. Gamble calls the operation a “huge success” and blames a “nonsense conspiracy” theory for tarnishing its reputation. “I’m proud of Operation Ore today. And I’ll be proud of it on the day I die.”

Colleagues in the US point to the UK arrest figures with admiration, he argues. “They are puzzled why we were not applauded for what we did.”

In a 2007 statement to the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee, Gamble said that of more than 2,450 people “successfully held to account”, 93% had admitted their guilt.

Where an individual’s credit card details were found on the Landslide database but no child abuse pictures could be found on a suspect’s computer, they were prosecuted on the lesser charge of inciting the Reedys to distribute indecent images.

There have been only 161 such cases, Gamble notes, and in 68% of these guilt had been admitted. He said that to the best of his knowledge, in all incitement cases “additional evidence beyond simple single credit card details have supported the prosecution”.

Additionally, according to Sommer, the legal barriers to an unfair conviction were high.

“There could have been miscarriages,” he says. “But essentially every case had to be put together by a police officer, it had to be agreed by the CPS.”

Those critical of the inquiry questioned how many innocent men may have accepted cautions to avoid the trauma and publicity of a trial. It’s a proposition that’s impossible to quantify.

It could be said that Operation Ore’s most significant achievement was drawing unprecedented attention to the variety of people who downloaded abuse images.

Certainly, claims about a wave of abuse perpetrated by Jimmy Savile have brought back memories of an earlier era – the 1960s and the 1970s – in which child abuse could flourish because it was so little discussed.

By the time Operation Ore was launched, paedophiles were arguably the UK’s most feared and reviled group. In 2000, the News of the World’s decision to name and shame convicted child sex abusers had been a landmark.

“Before Ore, we knew about child abuse,” says Julia Davidson, professor of criminology at Kingston University and co-director of the Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies.

“But we had these ideas about what perpetrators were like. The media had tended to focus on cases like Sarah Payne or Brady and Hindley.”

As the Ore arrests mounted, the country began to confront the idea that vast numbers of paedophiles were not fringe outsiders like Roy Whiting and Sidney Cooke – child killers who conformed to the pre-Ore media template of the paedophile as a shabbily dressed oddball.

Instead, many of the Ore cases which attracted the most publicity involved outwardly respectable, ordinary-looking men with families, jobs and friends.

If anything, the notion that those with an unhealthy interest in children could not be pigeonholed and identified by sight was a more terrifying notion.

In the early 2000s, the very phrase “child pornography” was increasingly shunned by experts in the fields of social work and child protection.

Instead, professionals preferred blunter terms – “child abuse images” or “images of child abuse” – to deny it the legitimacy of association with adult material which, like it or not, was being consumed by millions every day.

“There’s been a shift in language,” Davidson adds. “Previously, there was the attitude that it’s just a photograph.

“Now there’s a recognition that these pictures involve a child being brutalised, raped, exploited – and I think Ore was a catalyst for that.”

Within the space of a few years, thousands of case studies have emerged of individuals who were inclined to look at indecent images of children.

“You have several categories of offender,” Sommer says. “There are those also involved in physical offending, who might have thousands of these images on their computer.

“Then you have those people who are curious about it. These are the people who might also look for pictures of Princess Diana in Paris after the accident. But at the end of the day, every image is a child being abused and creates a market for further abuse.”

Nonetheless, it is not only the authorities who have learned lessons.

Those with an interest in viewing the kind of material targeted by Ore began to adapt their behaviour too.

The investigation made paedophiles more circumspect about their behaviour, Davidson says.

“Instead of pay-per-view sites as with Ore, what you are seeing is a lot more informal networks,” she adds.

“They are producing home-made images, sometimes of their own children. They’re conscious that if they use credit cards it’s far more traceable.”

Then there are the paedophiles like Jonathan who got caught in Operation Ore. “It cost me my life, really. Everything I held dear was utterly devastated.”

When he got out of prison he was not allowed to work with children, a role that he enjoyed and valued. Today he teaches English as a foreign language to adults. He says his colleagues know about his past and have given him a second chance.

The condition of his licence means he is still not allowed to download anything from a computer that is not directly connected with his job.

He is glad he got caught. He had tried to stop looking at images of children many times and always gone back to the sites. They were addictive, he says.

“In that sense I was quite grateful the arrest happened. I would have stayed like that. I wouldn’t have been able to break free.”

He says he hasn’t been seriously tempted to look at images of children since his release. “I’ve been in the clear for 10 years.”

The odd temptation comes up when watching a film, but he says he prays and can control it.

He sometimes wonders what his life would have been like if he’d been able to continue in his old job. But the rupture in his life has led to healing. He says he will always feel regret and remorse for what he did. But the shame has mostly gone.

“I know I’m in a better place. I’m not earning nearly as much money but I don’t have all that guilt.”

He is thankful for the support people have given him. His parents have stuck by him.

Jonathan puts his ability to turn things around down to his religious faith. “Without Christ in my life I would’ve probably ended up like many men in my situation and taken my life.”

Operation Ore was a unique event. The chain of circumstances that caused the Landslide data to fall into the hands of the British police will almost certainly never be repeated.

It was a product of an earlier internet age, one whose frontier spirit was liberating for its early adopters and yet in which child abusers and their enablers assumed they were untouchable.

While it made British parents more aware of the web’s dangers, it also fuelled a widespread cultural paranoia about the supposed dark side of the new digital age.

Operation Ore may be over. But its legacy persists. It was the event above all others that robbed British society of its innocence about the internet.

Operation Ore timeline

  • 2002: Operation Ore launched after US authorities hand over to British police details of 7,272 alleged subscribers to child pornography site
  • 2003: 1,300 arrested in first year of Ore, 95% with no previous criminal record
  • 2007: High-profile conviction of actor Chris Langham
  • 2010: Potential landmark challenge to safety of Ore convictions turned down by Court of Appeal


Operation Avalanche timeline

Thomas Reedy

  • 1997: Thomas and Janice Reedy (pictured) set up Landslide.com, providing payment services to adult websites
  • 1999: Investigation into child pornography on Landslide site leads to raid by US law officials on Reedys’ home, arrests and seizure of hard drives
  • 2000: Thomas Reedy convicted of trafficking indecent images of children
  • 2001: US attorney general reveals that Landslide’s database contains details of 35,000 US subscribers – 100 arrests made, many following sting operations


Policing online abuse


A difficult job

  • 2009 study by University of New Hampshire looked at effect on US law enforcement officers of viewing child pornography
  • Many reported experiencing personal, marital and work-related problems
  • Issues included insomnia, stress, depression and weight gain
  • 40% of respondents thought they needed more mental health support

Law Enforcement Work Exposure to child pornography (pdf file)


How should we treat offenders?

Convicted internet child abuse offenders tend to be referred to i-SOTP (internet sex offenders treatment programme), which involves six to nine months of group sessions. The stated purpose is to “increase the offenders’ understanding of the impact of their offending”.

Psychologist Dr Alison White told the Independent in 2010 that i-SOTP concentrated on the symptoms rather than the cause of internet child abuse: “People with personality dysfunction are notoriously difficult to treat and you are often looking at years of therapy.”

In 2008, Libby Brooks in the Guardian commented on the lack of help for would-be offenders. “You can find whatever you want on the internet, apart from the help you need,” she was told by one offender.

The websites Croga and Stop it now! offer help to people who are worried by their use of the internet, and for concerned friends and relatives.


What the law says

  • Protection of Children Act 1978 makes it an offence to take, or permit to be taken, any indecent image of a child, or to distribute or show such an image
  • And Section 160 of Criminal Justice Act 1988 states it is an offence to have any indecent photo of a child in one’s possession
  • Similar provisions are made in Section 52 of Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982
  • And Protection of Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1978


RECENT REPORTS ON LAMBETH, CLIVE DRISCOLL, AND THE LABOUR MINISTER



Tom Pettifor, ‘Paedo MP cover-up claim: Top cop removed from sex abuse probe after naming politicians as suspects’

Mar 26th, 2013 00:00

The officer suddenly found himself booted off the case and put on a disciplinary after revealing ­politicians were among the suspects

Clive Driscoll 2

Axed: DCI Clive Driscoll

Tasked with flushing out ­paedophiles preying on vulnerable youngsters at children’s homes, Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll relished the challenge.

But the officer suddenly found himself booted off the case and put on a ­disciplinary after revealing ­politicians were named among the suspects.

At least one of the figures is understood to have been an MP.

And former Labour councillor Anna Tapsell claims she was visited by a police chief to “warn her off” after she raised concerns that detectives would not ­properly investigate allegations of ­paedophile activity in care homes.

Mr Driscoll launched his probe into child sex abuse claims in the South London borough of Lambeth in 1998.

But he claims Scotland Yard began meddling as soon as the politicians were named.

The officer, now spearheading the fresh investigation into teenager Stephen Lawrence’s murder, said: “I was unhappy with the interference of some senior officers who did not appear to have a logical connection to my investigation into child sex abuse in Lambeth.

“There were allegations made by several people that named politicians had been involved but I never had a chance to investigate them because I was moved before I could do so.”

Council campaigner: Anna Tapsell was warned off by police

Asked if there was a cover-up of child sexual abuse in Lambeth by Scotland Yard, he said: “You would need an ­investigation to establish that.”

And asked if it was true that a file of evidence naming politicians as suspects and others was lost, he replied: “I handed the file to an officer and I have no ­knowledge where it went after that.”

Mr Driscoll was yesterday supported by Ms Tapsell, a chairwoman of Lambeth’s social services committee who has ­highlighted sexual abuse of children in the borough’s care for more than two decades.

She said: “When I learned that Clive was being removed, not only from the case but also from Lambeth, I realised that the Met were caving in to political pressure that was far more powerful than Lambeth Council.

“I was aware of allegations about an MP and the Met’s failure to act on those allegations and its apparent desire to silence those who called for them to be investigated fully was deeply shocking to me.

“Council employees who tried to expose staff they suspected of sexual abuse were sidelined and ignored.

“At the same time alleged perpetrators were moved or allowed to leave for financial misconduct or other ­misdemeanours, instead of for the abuse.

“This meant many children never received the justice they deserved.”

Former childrens home

Former kids’ home: Now a private residence

After Mr Driscoll’s removal, Ms Tapsell told how she raised fears about the depth of the investigation into sex abuse claims at Brixton’s Angell Road children’s home and South Vale youth assessment centre in West Norwood during a meeting of the Community Police Consultative Group.

She alleges a high-ranking officer later arrived at her home.

Ms Tapsell added: “I doubt whether I was the only person to be visited by a senior police officer in an attempt to warn me off.

“I had cast doubt on the Met’s ­inclination to get to the bottom of the paedophile activity within Lambeth’s care system.

“It had outraged a high ranking officer who had spoken at that meeting. That resulted in an unpleasant visit to my home by another senior officer.

“I have found the minutes of that meeting in the archives of Lambeth’s CPCG but no mention is made of the high-ranking officer’s contribution and the tape recording is also missing.”

Labour MP John Mann, a former Lambeth councillor, said last night: “It is essential that an outside force conducts a full investigation into these claims.”

Mr Driscoll, who has had a ­distinguished career in the Met for three decades, told how disciplinary proceedings – known as a regulation 15 notice or a 163 form – were started against him after he named the ­politicians in a ­confidential meeting with council ­officials in the late 90s.

John Mann MP

Probe: Labour MP John Mann wants an inquiry

He said the action followed a complaint by an executive on the council. The officer was also moved from Lambeth.

The detective was investigated and questioned under caution by other officers.

Mr Driscoll added: “I was handed a 163 form. It was revoked after they moved me and all disciplinary action was dropped.”

The Met set up a five year investigation into sexual abuse linked to Lambeth social care called Operation Middleton.

It was a joint probe with the council and was based in the town hall, leading to criticism that the Met were working too closely with the organisation that had employed abusers.

Officers traced 200 victims between 1998 to 2003 and the probe secured three convictions.

A total of 19 suspects were never identified, fuelling fears a ­paedophile ring had operated involving men from outside the care system.

Michael John Carroll, the former boss of the Angell Road home, was arrested in 1998 by Merseyside police for abuse spanning decades.

By that time Ms Tapsell had spent more than 10 years highlighting his case after she discovered Lambeth bosses let him run children’s homes until 1991 despite ­executives learning in 1986 he was a convicted ­paedophile.

In 1994, she wrote to Elizabeth Appleby QC, who had been ­commissioned to head a probe into sex abuse and misconduct in the borough.

Michael Carroll

Convicted paedophile: Michael Carroll ran kids’ home
Ms Tapsell told the judge that Carroll, who had not at that point been arrested, was “protected” by Lambeth social ­services bosses along with paedophile Les Paul who worked in South Vale.

Paul was jailed for two and a half years in 1994 for abusing three boys including one from the children’s home.

Ms Tapsell wrote: “Les Paul took little boys home and on holiday, just as Carroll did with the full knowledge of area staff. The examples are numerous.

“Almost all the internal abuse issues have involved collusion across divisions.

“I have no doubt Angell Road may have been used for organised child abuse which involved adults other than staff.

“This view is reinforced by the strong investment that officers and politicians have in blocking any effective investigation.”

Ms Appleby declined to comment.

Clare Whelan, a Lambeth Tory councillor since 1990, claims she was repeatedly ignored by police when she tried to highlight the Carroll case.

She added: “I was never confident that it was all properly investigated.

“It took far too long for police to investigate and I had to see three sets of officers before they did anything. Even then they did not do anything really.”

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “We are unable to comment on detailed allegations at this time without the opportunity to research these allegations.

“However, if any new evidence should come to light it will be investigated.”

* If you are an adult who suffered child abuse and want professional help call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, email help@nspcc.org.uk text 88858.

Distinguished detective who snared Stephen Lawrence killers
Clive Driscoll has enjoyed a distinguished 34-year career as a police officer.

The widely-respected detective helped restore the Metropolitan Police’s damaged name with his successful probe into two of Stephen Lawrence’s killers.

Dad Neville Lawrence backed the officer in 2012 after Gary Dobson and David Norris were convicted of Stephen’s 1993 murder.

Mr Lawrence said: “He seemed committed and confident. That’s all I need to know, that you believe in what you’re doing.”

Mr Driscoll started his career as a PC at Sutton in South London before being promoted to detective sergeant in Brixton in 1987.

He was later transferred to Scotland Yard and put in charge of policy for sexual offences, domestic violence, child protection and the paedophile unit.

He returned to South London to work in child protection before being promoted to detective chief inspector on the racial and violent crime taskforce in Fulham in 2003.

He was then appointed senior investigating officer in Operation Fishpool, the re-investigation into Stephen’s murder.

After a jury finally convicted Gary Dobson and David Norris, Mr Driscoll said: “It has been a joy and a privilege to work with the Lawrences.

“They are happy. I always said I wanted to get it to a jury. We’ve done our very best.”


Tom Pettifor, ‘Top-level police probe into Mirror revelations about paedophile ring “cover-up” linked to MP’

Mar 27th, 2013 02:00

It comes after a two-month investigation in which we spoke to politicians, alleged victims, police officers and former children’s home staff

Clive Driscoll 2

Brave; DCI Clive Driscoll spoke out
A top-level investigation was launched last night in response to the Daily Mirror’s revelation about a police “cover-up” of a suspected paedophile ring linked to MPs.

The dramatic move by Scotland Yard follows our story yesterday that a top detective was booted off a case investigating sexual abuse in children’s homes in London after he named politicians as suspects.

The “breakthrough” could lead to one of the biggest child sex abuse case reviews in the Met’s history as top investigators probe claims dating back as far as the 70s.

Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll, who was looking into accusations of abuse in Lambeth, South London, said Yard bosses interfered with the probe in 1998.

One of the figures is thought to have been an MP.

Last night, a Met police spokeswoman said: “Following concerns raised by DCI Clive Driscoll, the Serious Case Team of the Met’s Child Abuse Investigation Command, under Detective Superintendent David Gray, will review all material and papers in the original case.”

It comes after a two-month investigation by the Daily Mirror in which we spoke to politicians, alleged victims, police officers and former children’s home staff.

DS Gray and his team will examine claims a file of evidence containing details of allegations against politicians went missing after DCI Driscoll handed it to a senior officer.

It will also look into whether or not the claims were investigated by officers from Operation Middleton, which probed child sex abuse in Lambeth’s care homes before 1994.

The operation ran between 1998 and 2003 and resulted in three convictions. Former care home boss Michael John Carroll was jailed for ten years for child sex abuse in 1999 following a Merseyside police probe called Operation Care.

Child protection groups and politicians last night praised DCI Driscoll and the Met insisted he would not face disciplinary actions for speaking out.

Michael Carroll 2

Convicted: Michael Carroll

Labour MP and former Lambeth councillor John Mann said: “It is a great breakthrough that the Met are looking into this and it is all thanks to the Daily Mirror.

“The review will have important consequences for victims who will feel more encouraged to come forward.

“I applaud DCI Driscoll’s integrity and his courage in speaking out. I received a similar allegation in 1988 when I was investigating corruption, sexual exploitation and blackmail in Lambeth council.

“Two police officers who worked on those allegations at the time complained to me about high-level interference from Scotland Yard in their investigations.”

Fellow Labour MP Gerry Sutcliffe said: “It’s imperative this is fully reviewed because the claim that an officer was taken off an investigation because politicians were involved is of serious public concern.

“We must get to the truth of what happened.”

DCI Driscoll revealed: “I was unhappy with the interference of senior officers who did not appear to have any logical connection to my investigation into child sex abuse in Lambeth.”

Victim of abuse at children’s homes linked to supected MP paedophile ring speaks out

Highland Road children's home

Scene: Highland Road children’s home

A victim of abuse at children’s homes linked to suspected paedophile politicians last night accused police of failing to properly investigate his own claims.

The man, now a 44-year-old delivery driver, told detectives in 1998 that he was assaulted at the age of eight by a female worker while in the care of Lambeth council in South London.

He was later moved to the borough’s Highland Road children’s home, where he suffered two years of abuse from paedophile Michael John Carroll.

Shockingly, Carroll had already been convicted of child abuse.

The man said that in 1998 he gave Merseyside police a ­statement about both Carroll and the female carer but his ­allegations about the woman weren’t followed up.

He said: “It was dismissed just like an everyday occurrence.”

Carroll, however, was subsequently convicted of abusing him and another 11 children.

Last night the victim praised the Mirror’s investigation, saying: “You have to ask yourself why would anyone want to interfere in an investigation into the abuse of children?

“I think it is vital that these allegations are investigated and we find out what was going on. We have to find out because it stinks to high heaven.”


Tom Pettifor, ‘Police probe sex abuse allegations at kids’ home at centre of Mirror investigation’

Mar 28th, 2013 00:00

Officers are also believed to have been examining the allegations which relate to at least one former member of care home staff

Clive Driscoll 2

DCI Clive Driscoll

Police have been probing sex abuse allegations at a children’s home linked to a paedophile MP “cover-up” exposed by the Mirror.

A man has claimed he was assaulted there in the 80s, says a source.

Officers of the Metropolitan Police Child Abuse Investigation Command are believed to have been examining the allegations which relate to at least one former member of care home staff.

The news comes as detectives from the same unit this week begin examining claims police failed to properly investigate abuse allegations linked to at least one MP.

Det Chief Insp Clive Driscoll said the Yard interfered with his 1998 probe into the home in Lambeth, South London, after he named politicians as suspects.

Meanwhile, the Mirror can reveal a paedophile at the centre of the scandal is currently in business with a school governor.

Michael John Carroll, 64, set up a firm with the woman after being released from jail in 2004 where he served time for sexually abusing 12 children in his care.

Companies House records show Carroll, now an antiques dealer, has used three different names to run businesses in the last 30 years.

He lives in a £430,000 cottage near Wrexham while many of his victims got nothing or only small compensation payouts.

One told how he got £1,500 from Lambeth council for two years of abuse at Carroll’s hands.

He said: “When you are in care you expect to be cared for. It was atrocious.”

Carroll is believed to have shielded himself from abuse allegations in Lambeth by fostering close links with the police and Catholic church.

Tom Pettifor, ‘Minister in Tony Blair’s government among group of men suspected of abusing children at home run by paedophile’
Apr 27th, 2014 22:59

A probe was halted soon after an ex-social services boss told police of his alleged evening visits in the early 1980s

MAIN-Child-Sex-House

Picture shows the site of the former children’s home in Brixton (left) Tony Blair and a photo posed by a model (top right)

One of Tony Blair’s ministers was among a group of men suspected of sexually abusing children at a home run by a convicted paedophile.

But the probe was halted soon after an ex-social services boss told police of his alleged evening visits in the early 1980s.

Official documents seen by the Daily Mirror during a 16-month investigation reveal former residents told detectives that a group of paedophiles attacked children in a private flat in the home.

But two former Lambeth social services employees involved in the case suspect a cover-up because experienced detective Clive Driscoll was removed from the investigation and given other duties.

One, a former manager who alerted police in 1998, said: “One wonders why Scotland Yard would be so desperate to stop it being investigated.

“I believe it was stopped because somebody in power was trying to prevent any further investigation into the politician.”

And Dr Nigel Goldie, a council boss in charge of child protection in 1998, said: “There were some allegations that ­children were being abused by one or two prominent persons.

“There were a lot of very senior people trying to put a lid on it. There was ­something very unfortunate about the way the whole thing was dealt with.”

Angell Road, Brixton

Angell Road in Brixton

The Mirror has seen a Lambeth council memo that shows there was an intention to brief then Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, about the police investigation.

But Mr Dobson said he did not remember being briefed and was never told a minister in Tony Blair’s government was suspected of child abuse.

Both Dr Goldie and the former manager have called for an independent probe into their suspicions the minister was protected by the Establishment.

After being tracked down by the Mirror, the ex-manager said in the early 1980s she saw the man visiting Michael John Carroll at the Angell Road children’s home he ran in Brixton, South London.

She said she told top Lambeth­ officials at the time she suspected Carroll was at the centre of a paedophile ring at the home.

Bosses learned in 1986 that he was convicted of sexually assaulting a boy of 12 in the Wirral in 1966.

But the pervert was allowed to continue running the home until 1991.

Carroll was finally arrested in the summer of 1998 and convicted of a string of child sex attacks dating back three decades including assaults on youngsters in Angell Road.

He was freed from his 10-year sentence in 2004. Dr Goldie, who was assistant director of social services at Lambeth, then helped Met Detective Inspector Mr Driscoll investigate claims of sexual abuse in children’s homes.

At the time, Mr Driscoll was an ­experienced child protection ­detective. He went on to nail two racist thugs who murdered Stephen Lawrence.

But in 1998 he was taken off the Lambeth case and faced disciplinary proceedings for ­allegedly naming the politician among the suspects.

Clive-Driscoll

Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll

Describing how he learned the minister was being investigated, Dr Goldie said in a signed statement: “Clive started talking about the politician… He articulated that his approach was to shake the tree and be quite open about what he was doing and see what happened.”

Dr Goldie, now a non-executive director of mental health charity the Richmond Fellowship, added: “The allegation was that the politician had been seen going in and out of Angell Road.

“There were allegations he sexually abused children.”

Dr Goldie said he received a call from a senior police officer a short time later.

He recalled: “It was all very cloak and dagger stuff. He said, ‘Can you come downstairs and meet us outside?’”

Dr Goldie met the officer, who was accompanied by a junior colleague, in a cafe in Clapham, South London. He said: “They had an air of authority like they were used to taking decisions. They asked if there had been other allegations about the individual [the minister].”

Dr Goldie, described a second meeting with the same senior officer at the same cafe a few days later. He said: “They said essentially that they saw it as fantasy. They were rubbishing Clive’s evidence. It was a closure job on what Clive was saying.

“They put a lot of pressure on me. I had to treat it all confidentially.

“By that point Clive had been called in and given his disciplinary notice. They said that Clive hadn’t been able to provide them with evidence for the claims.”

Dr Goldie said their manner was “threatening” and added: “I was told not to tell anyone or repeat it. It was heavy.”

Mr Driscoll was questioned under caution by Met officers and removed from the Lambeth district. The disciplinary proceedings were later dropped.

Dr Goldie, who left Lambeth council of his own accord four months later, added: “What is needed is a proper independent ­investigation with a ­judicial element to get to the bottom of who was involved in the decision to shut Clive’s investigation down and to re-open the investigation into the original allegations.”

An internal memo written by Dr Goldie, dated September 1, 1998, said Mr Dobson was to be updated about the investigation by the Social Services Inspectorate – the body responsible for overseeing children’s homes.

Whitehall officials are now conducting a review, at Mr Dobson’s request, of all documents and briefings he received from the SSI when he was Health Secretary.

Mr Driscoll’s investigation was scrapped soon after Ron Davies quit as Welsh ­Secretary when he was mugged by a male prostitute at a gay meeting spot on Clapham Common, South London, in October 1998.

A week later, Agriculture Minister Nick Brown was forced into revealing he was gay by the News of the World. Neither men are the minister suspected of child abuse.

Alastair ­Campbell’s entry for November 4, 1998, in his published diary, The Blair Years, states: “As TB said later, with a touch of black humour, we could get away with Ron as a one-off aberration, but if the public start to think the whole Cabinet is indulging in gay sex, we might have a bit of a political problem.”

Mr Driscoll’s probe was shut down that month before Sir Denis O’Connor, then an assistant commissioner, set up new investigation Operation Middleton. It was contacted by more than 200 alleged victims and secured three convictions. In 19 cases suspects could not be identified.

Detective Superintendent Richard Gargini, who led Middleton, said last night: “Every allegation was taken ­seriously, including unsubstantiated rumour.

“Where victims and suspects were ­identified the inquiry was conducted ethically and with complete professionalism. We found no evidence of an organised network where people in authority attended the children’s’ homes for ­inappropriate purposes.”

Mr Driscoll was taken off the Stephen Lawrence case in January after he criticised Yard bosses for removing him from the 1998 probe.

He has been forced to retire next month. Several ex-Lambeth children’s home residents have recently come forward to police to allege abuse. One ex-residential social worker faces trial next year.

The Mirror sent Scotland Yard a detailed list of questions on March 21 which they have failed to answer.

A spokesman said last week: “Various inquiries relating to Operation Middleton remain ongoing.”

Mr Blair’s spokesman refused to comment last night. All children’s homes in Lambeth were shut down by 1995.

• If you are an adult who suffered child abuse and want professional help, call NAPAC on 0800 085 3330.

• If you have any information that you think 
might help our investigation, please telephone 
the Mirror on 0800 282 591 or email mirrornews@mirror.co.uk


Tom Pettifor, ‘Politician suspected of child abuse ‘would spend evenings with convicted paedophile”

Apr 27th, 2014 23:47

The witness said the man would arrive alone and then join Michael Carroll in an annex where the beast is known to have attacked a string of youngsters

MAIN-Child-Sex-House

The retired social services boss told detectives how the politician suspected of child abuse would spend evenings with the convicted paedophile who ran the home. Michael Carroll is pictured bottom right
The retired social services boss told detectives how the politician suspected of child abuse would spend evenings with the convicted paedophile who ran the home.

The witness said the man would arrive alone and then join Michael Carroll in an annex where the beast is known to have attacked a string of youngsters.

She said Carroll and the public figure would take young boys to the top-floor flat in Angell Road children’s home in Brixton, South London.

She said: “John would sometimes come down and select one of the boys to go up to the flat. He would say, ‘Uncle John wants to talk to you’ and the child would go up holding his hand.”

Official documents reveal one of Carroll’s alleged victims told detectives 16 years ago that a group of paedophiles attacked children in the flat.

Carroll was the only person convicted of abuse linked to the home, despite a number of children claiming they were attacked by other men there.

The witness accused Scotland Yard of covering up the alleged abuse after she originally gave evidence to then-detective inspector Clive Driscoll in 1998.

She said the Metropolitan Police failed to follow up on her evidence after they removed Mr Driscoll from the investigation.

Detectives from the Met’s Child Abuse Investigation Command have now taken statements from her, after she was tracked down during a 16-month Mirror investigation.

Angell Road, Brixton

Angell Road in Brixton

She said she saw the politician at the children’s home about four times in a three-month period while she was a trainee there in the early 1980s.

She said: “It was always in the evenings, between about half six and eight. He would see John and then disappear upstairs with John to his private flat. He would always arrive by himself.”

She said none of the staff would speak up when Carroll returned to select a boy.

She said: “The first time I saw it I asked a staff member what was going on and she told me John was doing ‘direct work’.”
This meant working one-to-one with children addressing issues including sexual abuse. Convicted paedophile Carroll claimed to be an expert on 
counselling abused children.

The witness said: “There were a group of John’s favourite boys who would go up to the flat. All were aged between about six and 10 and very vulnerable. They all had the same look – like they craved love and affection.”

Describing one incident, she said: “My shift was coming to an end when John and the politician came into the dining room together.

“Angell Road had a dining room and the doors opened on to the playground area. John was with the politician. The politician went outside where there was a boy aged about seven in the garden.

“He called the child by his name. I remember thinking, ‘how does he know this child’s name?’ As I looked at the boy, I saw what I can only describe as a mixture of fear and excitement on his face.”

She said the politician then went over to the boy and put him on his knee while rubbing his back.

“I thought this was odd and creepy,” she said.

She said on another occasion she met the politician in the home on his way to see Carroll.

She said: “I don’t know how he got in. Either he had a key or John let him in, but where was John when I bumped into him?”

She said the politician was one of several men who visited the home including a police officer and social workers from other parts of Lambeth. The Mirror knows the identity of three of the others. All their names have been passed to the police.

An alleged female victim of Carroll told 
detectives in 1998 that a paedophile ring abused boys in the Angell Road annex, known to staff and children as “John’s room”.

The girl told detectives she was violently sexually assaulted by Carroll, referred to as MJC in an official document seen by the Mirror.

It states: 
“She alleged it was common knowledge, although it didn’t happen to her, that MJC had men back to 
his flat and then cajoled children from the home to have sex with them.”

Another adds: “There is information that John Carroll used to take a group of adults to a room referred to as “John’s room” where they may have been involved in abuse of residents. These groups may have contained staff members.”

The witness said she saw the minister on two further occasions, once with a social worker and the police officer. She told managers she suspected abuse. She said: “I was told John was a law unto himself and was protected by someone higher up.”

Unbeknown to her at the time, Carroll already had a conviction for sexually assaulting a child in 1966.

Lambeth social services became aware he was a convicted paedophile in 1986, but Carroll was allowed to remain in charge for another five years.

The witness said in the late 1980s, while still working for Lambeth, she saw the politician’s name in the visitors’ book at the home as well as in a log book, which included details of which children were taken out.

She then confronted Carroll. “I said, ‘you have friends in high places’. He said something like, ‘I don’t know why you lot keep going on about him coming here, it’s not the only children’s home he goes to’.”

She said records showed the politician took boys out aged 12 to 15, but would sometimes be accompanied by Carroll with children under 10.

She believes it was her information that got Mr Driscoll taken off the case.

“I finally thought I had found somebody who was going to take me seriously,” she said. “I trusted 
him. Someone at Scotland Yard claimed I was an unreliable witness. Why would they be bothered about me?

“I believe the investigation was stopped because somebody in power was trying to prevent any further investigation into the politician and possible unlawful activity.”

• If you have any information that you think 
might help our investigation, please telephone 
the Mirror on 0800 282 591 or email mirrornews@mirror.co.uk


Jason Beattie, James Lyons, Tom Pettifor, ‘MPs call for public inquiry into Mirror’s former minister child abuse cover-up revelations’

Apr 28th, 2014 10:30

The demands followed our story that the politician was named as a suspect in the 1998 police probe shortly before it was closed down

Anon politician

Powerful: Politician was suspected of child abuse (picture posed by model)

MPs have called for a public inquiry into the Mirror’s revelations that a child sex abuse probe was axed after allegations were made against a minister in Tony Blair’s government.

The demands followed our story that the politician was named as a suspect in the 1998 police probe shortly before it was closed down.

An ex-social services boss told police the man made evening visits in the 80s to a children’s home run by a convicted ­paedophile in Lambeth, South London.

Simon Danczuk, who exposed the truth about the prolific paedophile Liberal MP Cyril Smith, said there were parallels between the two cases.

The Labour MP, who represents Smith’s former seat in Rochdale, called for an inquiry to examine whether the Blair minister and the late Liberal MP had been protected by the Establishment.

Mr Danczuk said: “The more I think about this, the more I really believe there needs to be some wider-ranging public inquiry that looks at abuses across the piece, not just in Rochdale but also in London and Lambeth.

“There is a Royal Commission in Australia looking at historic situations of child abuses. You do wonder if we are getting to a similar ­situation here.”

Simon-Danczuk

Truth: Simon Danczuk MP

The call for an inquiry was echoed by fellow Labour MP John Mann, who was a Lambeth councillor from 1986 to 1990.

He said: “The victims deserve justice. I am calling for a full public inquiry.”

Jon Bird, operations manager for the National Association of People Abused in Childhood, said: “Hats off to the Mirror for a very good investigation.

“We believe there should be an ­overarching inquiry as there seems to be a pattern that’s much bigger than what allegedly occurred in Lambeth.

“A thorough investigation needs to get to the bottom of what of what happened in these cases and the people who went through it need to be supported.”

Charity the NSPCC agreed and said: “No matter what the situation, any complaints about child abuse should be investigated and people in positions of power should not be immune from this.”

Clive-Driscoll

Sidelined: Experienced officer DCI Clive Driscoll was moved off the case

Official documents seen by the Mirror during a 16-month ­investigation reveal former ­residents told detectives that a group of paedophiles attacked ­children in a private flat in the Angell Road children’s home in Brixton, South London, during the 1980s.

A former Lambeth council social services manager said she saw the ­politician making evening visits to convicted paedophile Michael John Carroll in a flat in the home where boys were abused.

Carroll was finally arrested in the summer of 1998 and convicted of a string of child sex attacks dating back three decades including assaults on youngsters in Angell Road.

Experienced detective Clive­ ­Driscoll was removed from the ­investigation into abuse in Lambeth children’s homes and given other duties in 1998 after he named the Blair minister as a suspect.

A new investigation, Operation Middleton, was then set up by Scotland Yard, Lambeth council and the Social Services Inspectorate – the body ­responsible for overseeing children’s homes for the department of health. Officers on Middleton were contacted by more than 200 alleged victims and secured three convictions.

Dr Nigel Goldie, a council boss in charge of child protection in 1998, said of the alleged cover up: “It needs to be investigated and investigated by people who have been independent to what’s happened previously so that there can be a proper process undertaken.

“I don’t think it’s right that ­somebody just because of their political position should be ignored.” A spokesman for Tony Blair yesterday continued to refuse to comment on the Mirror’s investigation.

Michael Carroll

Connections: Convicted paedophile Michael John Carroll

Today we are demanding that Mr Blair and the other relevant authorities answer 14 unanswered questions.

  • Was ex-Labour leader Tony Blair aware one of his ministers was being investigated over allegations of historic child sex abuse?
  • Has he ever become aware of claims that the former minister preyed on boys for sex?
  • Did Mr Blair or any members of his government play any part in closing down Mr Driscoll’s investigation?
  • What role did the Department of Health and the Social Services Inspectorate play in closing Mr Driscoll’s investigation?
  • What communication was there between senior Metropolitan Police officers and the Blair government over the force’s investigation into the serving minister?
  • Which senior police officers, government ministers and civil servants discussed the investigation and when?
  • Why were disciplinary proceedings launched against Mr Driscoll for naming politicians among the suspects he was investigating?
  • Which police officer referred Mr Driscoll for disciplinary proceedings and for what reason?
  • Did an executive on Lambeth council raise a complaint against Mr Driscoll leading to disciplinary proceedings being commenced against Mr Driscoll?
  • Why didn’t Operation Middleton investigate claims a former Lambeth social worker made to Mr Driscoll about a group of men she had seen visiting Michael John Carroll’s private flat?
  • Was Dr Goldie told by a senior police officer that there was no reason for the politician to be investigated and that he should not repeat the allegations?
  • Did Lambeth council officials and/or Labour Party officials know a former Labour minister was a friend of convicted paedophile Michael John Carroll?
  • Where are the log books and visitors books for the Lambeth children’s homes that contained the politician’s name?
  • A year ago Scotland Yard stated that there would be a review of Mr Driscoll’s concerns that his investigation was interfered with by senior police officers. What are the findings of the review?


‘Rumours have ‘circulated in party for years”
Daily Mirror, April 28th, 2014

SUSPICIONS about the politician abusing boys have been discussed in sections of the Labour Party for decades, an ex-councillor has claimed.

Anna Tapsell has spent more than 25 years highlighting the Carroll case after she discovered that Lambeth council bosses learned in 1986 that he was a convicted paedophile – but allowed him to run children’s homes until 1991.

Ms Tapsell, a former Labour councillor in the South London borough, told Met officer Clive Driscoll in 1998 that party members suspected that the former minister was a paedophile.

She said: “It was much talked about in sections of the London Labour Party that this person preyed on boys for sex.

“My understanding was that Clive had raised that with Lambeth Council and the Met.

“Whether this is what led to Clive’s sudden removal from Lambeth I cannot be certain. It would clearly have caused embarrassment to the Government.
“His removal was very sudden. I believe it was almost immediately after a meeting with the council at which everyone was meant to share or pool their information in a safe setting. My understanding was that Clive did just that, and within hours he was removed from the investigation.

“My belief is the Government was alerted about the possibility of a scandal should Clive have been allowed to continue his investigation, and the close connections between the front bench and Lambeth council were used to bring that investigation to an abrupt close.

“Shortly after that, the council and the Met announced a new investigation [Operation Middleton] that was sufficiently restricted as to satisfy media attention and give the public the impression that the authority had finally dealt with its responsibilities to children who had been in its care.”

Ms Tapsell said that – after Mr Driscoll’s removal – she attended a meeting and raised fears about the depth of the investigation into sex abuse claims at Brixton’s Angell Road children’s home and a youth assessment centre. She alleges a highranking police officer then turned up at her home in a bid to keep her quiet.

Ms Tapsell said: “I had cast doubt on the Met’s inclination to uncover the paedophile activity in Lambeth’s care system. I doubt whether I was the only person to be visited by a senior police officer in an attempt to warn me off.”


Tom Pettifor, ‘There were claims children were being abused by someone prominent.. and a lot of very senior people were trying to put a lid on it;
EXPOSED social workers say ex-Blair MINISTER MAY HAVE BEEN PROTECTED
Daily Record & Sunday Mail, April 28th, 2014

POWERFUL people tried to cover up a suspected children’s home abuse ring said to involve a Labour minister and a convicted paedophile, it was claimed yesterday.

A 16-month investigation has revealed that former residents at the London home told detectives a group of paedophiles attacked children there.

But soon after a former social services manager told police about the politician’s alleged evening visits in the early 1980s, the Met’s inquiry was suddenly halted.

And experienced detective Clive Driscoll, who had been heading it, was moved to other duties.

Yesterday, two former social services employees involved in the case claimed there appeared to have been a cover-up when Driscoll was removed.

One – the former manager who alerted police in 1998 – said: “One wonders why Scotland Yard would be so desperate to stop it being investigated.

“I believe it was stopped because somebody in power was trying to prevent any further investigation into the politician and his possible involvement in unlawful activity.”

And Dr Nigel Goldie, a council boss in charge of child protection in Lambeth in 1998, said: “There were some allegations that children were being abused by one or two prominent persons.

“There were a lot of very senior people trying to put a lid on it. There could well have been good reason for it (Driscoll’s investigation) being ended but the manner in which it was done suggests some form of cover-up.”

An internal Lambeth Council memo shows there was an intention to brief then health secretary Frank Dobson about the police investigation into the Angell Road home in Brixton, south London.

But Dobson says that he does not remember being briefed and was never told a minister in Tony Blair’s government was suspected of child abuse.

Both Goldie and the former manager have called for an independent inquiry into their suspicions that the minister was protected by the establishment.

The former manager said that in the early 80s, she saw the politician visiting Michael John Carroll, who ran the home.

She claims council officials failed to take action over her suspicions that Carroll was at the centre of a paedophile ring.

Carroll was finally arrested in 1998 over child sex attacks – including some at Angell Road – dating back three decades. He was jailed for 10 years.

He was allowed to run the home until 1991 despite the council learning in 1986 that he was convicted of abusing a 12-yearold boy at a Merseyside home in 1966. Goldie, who was assistant director of social services at Lambeth, began helping Driscoll, an experienced detective inspector, to investigate allegations of abuse in 1998.

But Driscoll was suddenly taken off the case and the inquiry was taken over by a team selected by Department of Health officials, Scotland Yard chiefs and Lambeth Council.

Goldie said: “Clive started talking about the politician. He said there were other things he believed had not been investigated and needed close scrutiny.

“He articulated that his approach was to shake the tree and be quite open about what he was doing and see what happened. It is interesting that Clive’s method of shaking the tree brought about the response that it did.”

Goldie added: “The allegation was that the politician had been seen going in and out of Angell Road. There were allegations he sexually abused children.”

A short time later, Goldie said, he received a “very cloak and dagger” call from a senior police officer and met him and a junior colleague twice.

He recalled: “They said essentially that they saw it as fantasy. They were rubbishing Clive’s evidence.

“They said Clive hadn’t been able to provide evidence for the claims and that he was being subjected to a disciplinary process and that was the end of the allegation and I was told not to tell anyone or repeat it. It was heavy.”

Driscoll was questioned under caution by Met officers for allegedly naming politicians among those he was investigating. The proceedings were later dropped as was the disciplinary notice.

Goldie added: “What is needed is a proper independent investigation with a judicial element.”

Driscoll’s investigation was scrapped shortly after Ron Davies resigned as Welsh Secretary following his mugging by a male prostitute he had met in a well-known gay pick-up zone.

A week later, Agriculture Minister Nick Brown was forced into revealing he was gay by the News of the World.

Neither man is the minister who was suspected of child abuse.

Blair’s spin doctor Alastair Campbell recalled in his diary for November 1998: “As TB said later, with a touch of black humour, we could get away with Ron as a one-off aberration, but if the public start to think the whole Cabinet is indulging in gay sex, we might have a bit of a political problem.”

Driscoll’s investigation was shut down that month.

Sir Denis O’Connor, then an assistant commissioner, set up a new probe in November 1998 codenamed Operation Middleton.

The multi-million-pound five-year investigation was contacted by more than 200 alleged victims and secured three convictions.

In 19 cases, the suspects could not be identified, fuelling fears a network was operating involving men from outside the care system who were not known to children’s homes residents.

A number of former Lambeth children’s home residents have recently come forward to police to allege abuse.

One former residential social worker faces trial next year for alleged child sex offences. A 63-year-old man and a 78-year-old woman have been arrested and remain on police bail.

In 1999, Carroll pled guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to 35 sex offences against 12 boys, some as young as eight.

Scotland Yard have failed to respond to a detailed list of questions on the affair but said last week: “Various inquiries relating to Operation Middleton remain ongoing.”

WHISTLEBLOWER
Police said they saw it as fantasy. That was the end of it and I was not to repeat it. It was heavy

NIGEL GOLDIE
Staff member told senior detective of child sex suspicions Officer removed after he named the senior politician


Tom Pettifor, ‘Pressure mounts on Tony Blair to answer questions over minister child sex abuse cover-up claims’

Apr 29th, 2014 21:03

The former Prime Minister is under increasing pressure to say what exactly he knew about allegations of abuse at a London children’s home

Blair - Pressure Mounting

Pressure mounting: Former Prime Minister Tony Blair

Pressure mounted on Tony Blair tonight to answer questions over the Mirror’s revelations that a child sex abuse probe was axed after a minister in his government was named as a suspect.

MPs joined forces with a victim of abuse to call on the former Prime Minister to reveal if he knew about the alleged cover up or of any allegations against the politician.

The demands followed our story that an ex-social services boss told police in 1998 the Blair minister made evening visits to a children’s home in Lambeth, south London, run by paedophile Michael John Carroll in the 1980s.

A spokesman for Mr Blair said yesterday that he would not comment.

The Metropolitan Police continued to remain silent about their review into the cover up claims which they launched over a year ago.

A former care home boy who was sexually assaulted by Carroll in the flat allegedly visited by the politician, said yesterday: “Mr Blair owes it to the children who have suffered to come out and say something about this.”

The 45-year-old delivery driver added: “He must tell us what he knew and the longer he doesn’t, the worse it will get for him.”

Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke, a former Lambeth councillor, said: “Scotland Yard should come clean about why they ended the investigation and Tony Blair should explain what actions, if any, he took.

“People need to know there hasn’t been a cover up and Tony Blair cannot stay silent on this any longer. Lambeth has a sorry history when it comes to child protection and too often it has failed.”

Michael Carroll

Connections: Paedophile Michael John Carroll

Labour MP and fellow former Lambeth councillor John Mann, said: “It would be helpful if the former Prime Minister Tony Blair was to confirm whether or not he was informed of any allegations .”

Tory MP Bob Neill, the Conservative vice chairman responsible for London, said: “These are clearly very seriously allegations and it’s important they are subject to a full and independent investigation.”

The probe would examine whether government ministers, senior police officers, Whitehall civil servants and Lambeth council executives closed ranks to protect the politician.

The Home Office yesterday refused to examine the Mirror’s revelations, saying Scotland Yard must investigate itself or hand the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The Mirror revealed this week that a former Lambeth council social services manager said she saw the politician making evening visits to convicted paedophile Carroll in a flat in the home where boys were abused.

Carroll was finally arrested in the summer of 1998 and convicted of a string of child sex attacks dating back three decades including assaults on youngsters in Angell Road.

Experienced detective Clive­ ­Driscoll was removed from the ­investigation into abuse in Lambeth children’s homes and given other duties in 1998 after he named the Blair minister as a suspect.

A new investigation, Operation Middleton, was then set up by Scotland Yard, Lambeth council and the Social Services Inspectorate – the body ­responsible for overseeing children’s homes for the department of health. Officers on Middleton were contacted by more than 200 alleged victims and secured three convictions.

The Mirror is demanding that Mr Blair and the other relevant authorities answer 14 unanswered questions:

  • Was ex-Labour leader Tony Blair aware one of his ministers was being investigated over allegations of historic child sex abuse?
  • Has he ever become aware of claims that the former minister preyed on boys for sex?
  • Did Mr Blair or any members of his government play any part in closing down Mr Driscoll’s investigation?
  • What role did the Department of Health and the Social Services Inspectorate play in closing Mr Driscoll’s investigation?
  • What communication was there between senior Metropolitan Police officers and the Blair government over the force’s investigation into the serving minister?
  • Which senior police officers, government ministers and civil servants discussed the investigation and when?
  • Why were disciplinary proceedings launched against Mr Driscoll for naming politicians among the suspects he was investigating?
  • Which police officer referred Mr Driscoll for disciplinary proceedings and for what reason?
  • Did an executive on Lambeth council raise a complaint against Mr Driscoll leading to disciplinary proceedings being commenced against Mr Driscoll?
  • Why didn’t Operation Middleton investigate claims a former Lambeth social worker made to Mr Driscoll about a group of men she had seen visiting Michael John Carroll’s private flat?
  • Was Dr Goldie told by a senior police officer that there was no reason for the politician to be investigated and that he should not repeat the allegations?
  • Did Lambeth council officials and/or Labour Party officials know a former Labour minister was a friend of convicted paedophile Michael John Carroll?
  • Where are the log books and visitors books for the Lambeth children’s homes that contained the politician’s name?
  • A year ago Scotland Yard stated that there would be a review of Mr Driscoll’s concerns that his investigation was interfered with by senior police officers. What are the findings of the review?


Tom Pettifor, ‘Former Labour councillor claims police tried to smear her when she suspected a minister of child sex abuse’

Apr 30th, 2014 22:30

Anna Tapsell told Scotland Yard about the rumours and claims the Met looked at her finances in a bit to destroy her credibility

New Scotland Yard

Accusation: Tapsell says her claims were not taken seriously

A whistleblower has claimed Scotland Yard tried to discredit her after she told an officer that one of Tony Blair’s ministers was suspected of child sex abuse.

Anna Tapsell said the alleged Met plot to smear her – in a bid to destroy her credibility as a witness – included snooping into her finances.

Ms Tapsell told detective Clive Driscoll in 1998 about rumours that the minister abused boys at a childrens’ home in Lambeth, South London, in the 1980s. Mr Driscoll was removed from the probe into abuse at the Brixton home and was subjected to disciplinary proceedings after naming the politician.

Ms Tapsell, a former Labour councillor in Lambeth, said: “It’s incredibly sad for the children who suffered during that time that the police were spending their energy on seeking to smear me and trying to destroy the career of an officer who was only doing his duty.” Social services staff who were involved in the case suspect there was a cover-up to prevent the minister from being further investigated.

In 1999, Michael John Carroll, now 65, was jailed for 10 years for child sex attacks while he ran the home.

Police yesterday handed evidence to the CPS after interviewing a man allegedly abused as a teenager in the 1970s by Labour peer Lord Janner, now 85.


Tom Pettifor, ‘Was Bulic Forsythe killed to protect paedophile ring ‘linked to future minister in Tony Blair’s government?”

May 21st, 2014 06:00

The council official told a new witness, tracked down in a Mirror investigation, that he suspected vulnerable youngsters were being assaulted by an organised gang

Bulic Forsythe and Kiddist

Questions: Bulic and his daughter Kiddist

Cold case detectives are probing the murder of a council official who vowed to expose a paedophile ring allegedly linked to a future minister in Tony Blair’s government.

The daughter of Bulic Forsythe believes her father may have been killed because he uncovered a children’s home vice ring involving powerful figures.

Bulic told a new witness, tracked down in a Mirror investigation, that he suspected vulnerable youngsters were being assaulted by an organised gang at one home said to have been visited by the Labour politician.

But days later Bulic, 42, was beaten to death in his flat and the case has remained unsolved for 21 years.

Documents reveal detective Clive Driscoll advised the investigation should be reopened when he found potential links to his 1998 children’s homes probe in Lambeth, South London.

But Mr Driscoll was removed from the case for naming the Blair minister as a suspect and Bulic’s murder file has not been touched for 14 years.

Scotland Yard’s Serious Crime Review Group are finally looking at it afresh after the Daily Mirror tracked down the daughter he never met.

Kiddist Forsythe – born three months after Bulic’s murder and 21 next week – said: “Police must examine whether my dad was killed because of what he knew about child sex abuse in Lambeth and if it was linked to people in power.

“We know that he told more than one person he was going to expose wrongdoing in the borough shortly before he was murdered and that his killer or killers remain free.”

Firefighters burst into Bulic’s blazing flat early on Friday, February 6, 1993, and found his blood-soaked body.

The social services manager’s skull had been fractured by a heavy weapon.

Dawn Forsythe and Kiddist

Justice: Bulic Forsythe’s wife Dawn and daughter Kiddist

In the months before his murder, Bulic had told colleagues at Lambeth Council he was on the verge of exposing child sex abuse and corruption.

A new witness told detectives for the first time last year that a terrified Bulic confided in her shortly before his death.

Speaking after she was tracked down by the Mirror, the former Lambeth worker said: “Bulic said, ‘With what I’m about to tell you I’m taking a big risk.

“What if I was to say that council buildings are being used for child sexual abuse on a regular basis’.”

The witness added: “Bulic came to me a second time because South Vale [youth assessment centre in West Norwood] had closed and he asked me who had the keys.

“He said, ‘People are saying they are using it to make films’. He was very frightened about something and then he was murdered.”

Bulic died at the time of an internal Lambeth council probe into alleged sexual abuse in the housing department where he had worked.

The resulting report, obtained by the Mirror, details allegations of rape, sexual assault and the swapping of child abuse videos and violent porn within the council. It implicated senior Lambeth officers as well as police and local politicians.

The report, signed by chair of the panel Eithne Harris, states: “The murder of Bulic Forsythe was seen by some witnesses as a possible outcome for anyone who strayed too far in their investigation or who asked too many questions.”

Published internally in December 1993, it adds: “The panel heard evidence about BF [Bulic Forsythe] while he was working in Social Services, speaking to a colleague and telling her he was going to ‘spill the beans’.

“Three days later he was killed.”

This is not the witness traced by the Mirror.

Mirror - Police and the Paedo MP Cover-Up

Investigation: A Daily Mirror front page

It states: “BF had allegedly expressed his fear of [boss initials] to another witness who visited him.

“He appeared very frightened to the witness. The witness at this point appeared fearful”

The report describes the atmosphere in the department as “one of intense fear”.

Though the panel found no “direct link” between his death and work it said its evidence should be handed to police.

Bulic was last seen alive at 8.45pm on Wednesday, February 4, 1993.

A BBC Crimewatch broadcast five months later revealed that at 10am on the Thursday three official looking men were seen by a neighbour carrying files away from his flat in Clapham, South London.

Two more men were seen in a car behind the property at 2pm. His bedroom was torched at 1am on Friday and the oven turned on.

Kiddist’s mum and Bulic’s widow, Dawn, 60, said: “I think someone wanted to shut him up.”

Paedophiles abused children in Lambeth’s homes for decades.

A former social services manager told Mr Driscoll in 1998 that she saw the future Blair minister making evening visits to the Angell Road children’s home in Brixton in the early 80s.

She claimed she learnt he had visited South Vale.


Tom Pettifor, ‘Tony Blair’s minister accused of helping convicted paedophile to foster young boys’

Jul 7th, 2014 06:00

The latest allegations over the politician – later a minister in Tony Blair’s Government – have been declared ‘shocking’ by campaigning MP Tom Watson

When the phone rang in the Southwark social services department in South London the caller is believed to have come straight to the point.

He is claimed to have enquired about a Michael John Carroll’s failed application to foster two brothers who had been taken into care from a troubled family.

Carefully choosing his words the rising star in the Labour Party is alleged not to have put direct pressure on the officer but still made clear he was unhappy about the refusal.

Southwark had turned down the request because Carroll was a convicted paedophile, a new witness has claimed.

The Labour politician’s call was just one part of what appears to have been a concerted and involved effort by several influential people to secure permission for Carroll to be a foster carer.

He was employed by Lambeth council in South London as a children’s home manager despite him having a conviction for sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy twenty years earlier.

The offence had come to light in 1986 when the Carrolls made their original application to Croydon council, where they lived, to become foster parents. It was refused and Lambeth were made aware of the offence leading to a disciplinary hearing headed by their then assistant director of social services David Pope in May that year.

Carroll received just a written warning after insisting his conviction was a “boyish prank” and was allowed to remain in charge of the children’s home. Mr Pope did not respond when asked about the case last month.

Carroll and his wife wanted to foster the 12 and 14-year-old boys who had been on holidays with them to North Wales.

Lambeth had been considering the application but in summer 1986 they allegedly referred it to neighbouring Southwark council for an independent decision.

A new witness has told Labour MP Tom Watson that a Southwark social worker was given the case and advised it should be halted because of Carroll’s conviction. This was allegedly agreed by a senior official.

Southwark then made clear in writing to Lambeth that they were concerned that he was still in charge of a children’s home, the witness has said.

It is claimed that this decision led to intense pressure being applied on Southwark officials by Lambeth and a person close to the Labour politician allegedly contacted officers twice about the case before paying them a visit to demand they reverse the decision.

When they refused to budge, the Labour figure made the phone call.

Mr Watson said: “It appears that the understandable concern amongst Southwark officials was that Lambeth was employing a convicted paedophile to run a children’s home and while allegedly pushing for him to be allowed to foster two boys. The witness has told me that the Southwark vetting process was ended with a refusal which clearly went down badly with some.”

Despite being blocked by Southwark, Lambeth’s executives continued to back the couple’s application and took the case to another neighbouring borough, this time Wandsworth. A source who was close to the Wandsworth team has confirmed that they were never told about Southwark’s previous involvement.

An officer from Lambeth social services allegedly phoned a Wandsworth official and asked him to falsify documents relating to Carroll’s criminal conviction before they were put before the fostering committee.

But the boys’ social worker at Lambeth threatened to resign unless Carroll’s access to them was stopped.

Instead, four senior Lambeth officers recommended allowing Carroll and his wife June, also a residential social worker, to become the boys’ official “aunt and uncle”.

Though the fostering application was rejected by Wandsworth, in December 1990 Lambeth began paying the Carrolls £67.85 a week to look after one of the brothers at their home.

Carroll was finally dismissed in 1991 for squandering his home’s budget on alcohol and cigarettes while the children were often eating out-of-date food.

The scandal around Lambeth’s employment of Carroll and attempts to help him foster the boys resulted in an independent inquiry in 1993.

Michael Carroll

Convicted paedophile Michael Carroll

A report produced by Richard Clough, then general secretary of the Social Care Association, accused Lambeth officers of gross unprofessionalism.

But sources close to Mr Clough have said he was never told about Southwark’s involvement in the case and last night Mr Watson called for an investigation into the apparent cover up by Lambeth.

Mr Watson, who has passed the new witnesses information to Scotland Yard, said: ““The allegation that Lambeth failed to disclose their contact with Southwark to Mr Clough’s public inquiry is shocking.

“A fully independent investigation must now be set up to find out what exactly happened and who was responsible.

“It also appears that a politician put pressure on social services professionals to allow a convicted paedophile to foster two vulnerable boys.

“Lambeth were effectively shopping around for a council that would allow Carroll unrestricted access to these boys. As this was going on he was able to informally foster them and take them away on holiday.

“This dark chapter in the history of Lambeth must be fully investigated to get justice for the people whose lives have been destroyed by Carroll and all those who facilitated his offending.

“Carroll was able to sexually abuse children because Lambeth, who were responsible for their care, allowed him to do it. The question is who was protecting him and why?”

Anna Tapsell, whose campaigning sparked the Clough report when she was the the Labour chairwoman of Lambeth’s social services committee, said: “I thought I’d seen everything but these allegations are shocking. However, I am encouraged that the truth is now going to emerge despite the authorities efforts to keep things under wraps. It appears a lot of people are beginning to realise that the sexual abuse of children goes well beyond a few TV stars and deep into the political arena.”

Mr Clough questioned in his report why Lambeth went to “extraordinary lengths” to enable the Carrolls to officially, and unofficially, foster the children.

Lambeth Town Hall

Lambeth Town Hall

Carroll – whose wife died of breast cancer in 1993 – bought £500,000 hotel in Chirk, near Wrexham, after leaving Lambeth. He currently lives in another half a million pound house close to Wrexham.

Mr Watson was contacted by the new witness after he read our story in April that police were told in 1998 that the Labour politician made evening visits to Carroll’s flat in Angell Road children’s home in the 1980s.

Lambeth officials suspected a cover-up when detective Clive Driscoll was removed from the case and given other duties in November 1998.

Carroll was jailed in 1999 for 10 years over a string of child sex attacks dating back three decades.

The latest shock developments follow Labour MP Simon Danczuk’s claims Westminster politics is the “last refuge of child sex deniers”.

Mr Danczuk has called for a Hillsborough-style inquiry into historical abuse including the Daily Mirror’s revelations that an establishment cover-up blocked a police investigation into child sex claims against the Labour politician.

The Met police are currently examining new criminal allegations linked to Lambeth care homes but are refusing to investigate the cover up revelations. They have also failed to refer it to the police watchdog and the Home Office have also refused to investigate.

Lambeth council said in a statement last night: “ Documents in our archive from this time have not been digitised so they have to be scrutinised manually.

“When we are satisfied that a thorough search has been completed we will be able to answer these specific questions.

“Meanwhile, we would urge anyone with new information to contact Lambeth council or the police.”


Tom Pettifor, ‘Alleged Labour politician paedophile ring ‘investigated by only two police detectives’
Daily Mirror, July 8th, 2014

MP John Mann has asked Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan Howe to reassure the public that allegations uncovered by the Mirror are properly examined

Silhouette

Minister: Member of Tony Blair’s cabinet was named as a suspect

An MP has written to Britain’s most senior policeman to raise concerns that only two detectives are investigating an alleged paedophile ring linked to a Labour politician.

John Mann has asked Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan Howe to reassure the public that allegations uncovered by the Mirror are properly examined.

Labour MP Mr Mann wrote: “I understand that only two officers are investigating the historic abuse of children in care in Lambeth.

“In light of the scale of the abuse being investigated, I am writing to ask that you drastically increase the number of officers and resources available.”

John Mann 2

Concerns: John Mann

MP Tom Watson has previously claimed that Scotland Yard’s paedophile squad, which is running the Lambeth probe, is “chronically under-resourced”.

Police were told in 1998 that the Labour politician implicated visited paedophile Michael John Carroll’s flat at a home in Brixton in the 1980s.

Council officials suspected a cover-up when detective Clive Driscoll was removed from the case in November 1998 when he named a minister in Tony Blair’s government as a suspect.

If you have any information that might help our investigation, please call the Mirror on 0800 282 591.


Tom Pettifor, ‘Award winning author: I was abused at council care home linked to ex-Labour minister’
Daily Mirror, July 13th, 2014

Alex Wheatle MBE writes of how he was sexually assaulted by a doctor at Shirley Oaks in Surrey, run by Lambeth council

Alex Wheatle - Young

An award-winning author today reveals that he was abused at a children’s home thought to be linked to a paedophile ring involving an MP in Tony Blair’s government.

In a moving account, Alex Wheatle, 51, writes of how he was sexually assaulted by a doctor at Shirley Oaks in Surrey, run by Lambeth council, South London.

The father-of-three, awarded an MBE in 2008, broke his silence after an investigation by the Daily Mirror claimed systematic abuse in the borough was covered up after the Labour MP was named as a suspect.

It is thought Alex was targeted by a network of abusers who operated in the same care homes that the rising Labour star is suspected of visiting in the early 80s.

We revealed how a Lambeth social services boss told police in 1998 that the Blair minister would make lone evening visits to a children’s home run by a convicted paedophile, Michael John Carroll.

The witness said Carroll later admitted that the politician was a friend and that he also took boys out of South Vale children’s home in West Norwood during the 80s.

This is a unit which is believed to have been infiltrated by paedophiles from outside the care system.

In his powerful account, Alex speaks of the sickening abuse suffered by youngsters at Shirley Oaks children’s home village.

Alex, who arrived at Shirley Oaks aged three, reveals how “strange nameless men” had access to the home and believes abusers were allowed access with the full knowledge of staff and council chiefs.

He writes: “I’m convinced there was a paedophile ring operating in both South Vale and Shirley Oaks and that the authorities knew about it at the time but did nothing.”

Alex, born in South London, goes on to call for justice for the victims who have been ignored for decades.

He also implores Home Secretary Theresa May that child abuse inquiries recently announced are “thorough”.

Alex Wheatle 2

Read Alex’s chilling first-hand account of his abuse HERE

Sitting on the well-heeled Kent- Surrey border, Shirley Oaks children’s home village – administered by Lambeth council – was surrounded by lush, swerving hills, rushing streams and towering oaks.

At first glance it was the perfect place to raise children, but in 1995, it was shut down.

Fixed into the encircling wall which still stands near the front gate and lodge building is a plaque that reminds passers-by of the thousands of children who once resided there.

Just two minutes’ walk from this symbolic memorial, one of my good friends took her own life – she had left Shirley Oaks but she could never leave behind the tormenting memories and trauma.

Another close friend of mine hanged himself from a toilet chain in one of the cottages. I know he suffered, but I don’t know how.

I arrived in Shirley Oaks in 1966. My first memories were filling in coal buckets and getting beaten up with wooden hair brushes, belts and hard-soled shoes. Suffering violence was as part of my day as eating toast.

As I grew a little older I heard tales of appalling abuses from friends who had been processed at the South Vale assessment centre in West Norwood before arriving at Shirley Oaks for so-called long-term care.

Phrases like “bummed” filled their vocabulary.

Sometimes we would see strange nameless men within the Shirley Oaks grounds. One of them manipulated himself into our cottage, sleeping overnight in the sofa bed within the office. We were told to call him Mark and he said he was a swimming instructor.

He targeted the boys in our cottage but also facilitated swimming lessons for other lads in the pool within the grounds as well as private clients. At these sessions he was the only adult present. There were no CRB checks in those days.

It was only decades later that he was jailed for his disgusting crimes following the Operation Middleton investigation. I’m still unsure if all of his victims came forward.

While all this happened, I did my best to survive. Before I left the primary school that was situated within the complex, I was labelled “maladjusted”. I didn’t even know what the word meant.

I was referred to a doctor. The first thing he told me to do was to strip naked. I stood there traumatised, unable to utter a sound as he sexually assaulted me. I wanted to ask my friends if they had suffered something similar but couldn’t bring myself to do it.

As I began my secondary education there were still odd, nameless men walking the grounds at night. Sometimes you would see them during the day. One drove through the village in an orange mini with blacked-out windows. He claimed he was a football coach but the only skill he possessed was managing to fit inside his tight shorts.

Alex Wheatle getting MBE

Honour: Alex Wheatle is made an MBE by The Queen

He would arrive at a game and take younger boys away to a secluded part of Shirley Oaks where it was assumed he was giving them extra training. Nobody that I knew wanted to discuss these issues with any social worker for fear of being moved away to somewhere even worse.

Indeed, one of my house-mates was taken away for objecting to what was taking place within our household. She came back months later traumatised. She wouldn’t talk of it. Also, we all heard that a member of Shirley Oaks staff had raped a defenceless girl. Fear was a constant companion. At least in Shirley Oaks we had our friends – if that was taken away, we would have nothing.

If you were fortunate enough to have a family member come and see you, social workers or officers­ in­ charge would sometimes apply for a Section 2, which would deny even close relatives from visiting you. It meant the children’s home gained complete control over your life and who you saw. Many of my friends were completely isolated and vulnerable.

Years later, Operation Middleton secured three convicted jail terms. Lambeth council and the police declared the investigation a success. I and many others deem it as a failure. Nineteen paedophiles were never charged or even identified. If any of them are alive they are still walking, smiling and wearing their medals amongst us.

Who were they? How did they gain such willful access to South Vale and Shirley Oaks? At any time during Shirley Oaks’ existence there were hundreds of children in residence and social workers visited their charges every day.

They must have been aware of at least the “swimming instructor” and the “football coach” because they were so visible. They and others somehow gained unchallenged access inside cottages and ultimately to defenceless children.

Alex Wheatle - Brixton Rock

Acclaimed: Brixton Rock by Alex Wheatle

In my case, this Mark character even sat in on my case meetings. I’m convinced there was a paedophile ring operating in both South Vale and Shirley Oaks and that the authorities knew about it at the time but did nothing.

I urge Theresa May that the inquiries she has initiated include the thorough investigation of social services practices, safeguards for children and protection policies and how such men were allowed to get so close to vulnerable children.

Also, I ask her that these investigations should examine all aspects of child abuse including violent, neglect and emotional abuse. Victims have their lives ruined by sexual assault. Some even take their own lives because of it.

Following the closure of Shirley Oaks, someone set fire to the old primary school. I wonder if it was a victim, exacting some form of his or her justice, who for years went ignored and unheard. I really hope my testimony here will prompt others who have suffered to come forward and bear witness to the horrific crimes inflicted against them.

Those nameless men must be unveiled and brought to justice, alive or dead.

If you are an adult who suffered child abuse and want professional help, call NAPAC on 0808 801 0331. If you have any information that you think might help our investigation, please telephone the Mirror on 0800 282 591 or you can email mirrornews@mirror.co.uk.

Alex Wheatle MBE is acclaimed author of novels including Brixton Rock, Brenton Brown, Island Songs & East Of Acre


Tom Pettifor, ‘Ten more sex abuse victims at children’s home linked to ex Labour minister break silence’
Daily Mirror, July 15th, 2014

Now aged in their 30s, 40s and 50s, they came forward after author Alex Wheatle revealed in the Mirror that he was abused at Shirley Oaks home in Surrey

Alex Wheatle

Wants justice: Author Alex Wheatle

At least 10 men and women say they were assaulted at a children’s home linked to suspected abuse by an MP in Tony Blair’s government.

Now aged in their 30s, 40s and 50s, they came forward after author Alex Wheatle revealed in the Mirror that he was abused at Lambeth Council’s Shirley Oaks home in Surrey.

They spoke out as a half-brother of a Tory MP was charged with inciting an 11-year-old boy into an act of gross indecency.

Author Wheatle, a dad of three awarded an MBE in 2008, broke his silence after the Mirror uncovered claims that systematic and horrific abuse was hushed up.

Many of the former residents of Shirley Oaks plan to go to police and want the South London council to launch an independent inquiry.

A 47-year-old man sexually assaulted by swimming instructor William Hook at the care home said today: “It is good the Mirror’s given us a voice after so many years.

“We want justice for the survivors and those who are no longer with us because of the abuse they suffered.

“Lambeth needs to launch a fully independent investigation.”

Alex Wheatle 2

Award winner: Alex Wheatle MBE

Hook was jailed for 10 years in 2001 for attacks on six boys in the 70s.

He had been allowed to continue despite victims complaining. A staff member even failed to tell police when he found Hook sexually assaulting a child.

Another ex-resident said her sister was raped by a staff member as his wife watched.

It is thought Alex and others were targeted by abusers who operated in care homes the rising Labour star is suspected of visiting in the 80s.

Today Charles Napier, 67, the half-brother of Tory MP John Whittingdale, a former private Secretary of Margaret Thatcher, was charged with inciting a child to commit an act of gross indecency.

A second man, Richard Alston, 69, from Suffolk, was charged with assaulting the child in the 70s.

Both are due before Westminster magistrates on July 29.


Laura Kuenssberg, ‘Metropolitan Police official was moved ‘from child abuse inquiry’
BBC Newsnight, July 15th, 2014

[See link for associated videos]

A former senior Metropolitan Police officer says he was moved from his post when he revealed plans to investigate politicians over child abuse claims.

Clive Driscoll says his inquiry into 1980s London children’s homes was “all too uncomfortable to a lot of people”.

He also believes there were “disruption tactics” within the Met during his inquiry that led to the conviction of two of Stephen Lawrence’s killers.

The Met defended its murder inquiry and said Lambeth investigations continued.

List of suspects

Mr Driscoll told BBC Newsnight that while conducting a 1998 inquiry into allegations of abuse in children’s homes in Lambeth, south London, in the 1980s, he was passed a list of suspects’ names, including politicians, that he wanted to investigate.

Speaking for the first time since retirement, he said: “Some of the names were people that were locally working, some people that were, if you like, working nationally.

“There was quite a mix really because it appeared that it was connected to other boroughs and other movement around the country.”

He said after he had shared his suspicions at a meeting, he was taken off the investigation.

‘Fear of reprisals’

“I certainly, in a case conference, disclosed suspects’ names… but I was informed that was inappropriate and I would be removed from my post.”

Mr Driscoll added: “Whenever people spoke to you… about what they had seen, it was almost on the proviso that they wouldn’t make a statement and that they would be scared if you released who those people were that were talking, for fear of reprisals to both their selves and their families.”

He said he felt there had been mistrust on both sides.

“It appeared that certainly people didn’t trust the Metropolitan Police Service, and I think the Metropolitan Police Service possibly didn’t trust some of the people that it was working with.”

Several convictions
Did he fear he was stopped from investigating the Lambeth claims because he suspected more than one politician was involved in child abuse?

He replied: “At the time I just felt that it was all too uncomfortable to a lot of people.”

After Mr Driscoll said he was moved, police continued to look at more than 20 children’s homes.

Investigations are still ongoing and there have been several convictions.

The Met said it was looking into his claims concerning his removal from the investigation and have called him to a meeting in Scotland Yard on Wednesday.

His claims come as two inquiries into historical child sex abuse allegations have dominated recent national headlines.

One is a sweeping, independent inquiry looking at how public bodies dealt with these types of allegations, while the other will look at how the Home Office handled abuse claims dating from the 1980s.

‘Be honest’

Meanwhile, Mr Driscoll also told Newsnight that senior officers in the Met had discussions about holding back certain documents from the Ellison Review, the independent inquiry that looked into allegations of police corruption in the Stephen Lawrence case.

He warned: “One bad decision around disclosure undoes the remarkable work that police officers do up and down the country.

“For me, just be open and honest, warts and all.”

Stephen Lawrence was 18 when he was stabbed to death near a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London, in April 1993, in a racist attack by a gang of white youths.

‘Not enthusiastic’
After years of legal attempts had failed, Mr Driscoll eventually led an investigation that brought the case to court successfully.

David Norris and Gary Dobson were convicted of murder, in January 2012.

But Mr Driscoll said there had been officers inside the Met who did not want a “successful prosecution”.

“There were certainly people I think in senior levels in the Met that weren’t enthusiastic about the investigation. I certainly felt that.”

He felt so concerned about what he described as “disruption tactics” that he said he emailed senior officers with his fears.

Now he has left the force, he said relationships between the Lawrence family and the Met were as bad as they had been just after Stephen’s murder.

‘Right the wrongs’
Mr Driscoll supports Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan Howe, but believes the Met must now be as transparent as possible to rebuild the trust of the public.

He said: “I believe we are in a position today where we have an opportunity to learn and we have an opportunity to put right some of the wrongs.”

The Met told Newsnight no relevant Stephen Lawrence material had been intentionally withheld and its policy was to be open and transparent.

It added it was still committed to continuing the Lawrence investigation.


Press Association, ‘Yard man ‘moved amid abuse probe”
Daily Mail, July 15th, 2014

A former Scotland Yard detective has claimed he was moved from his post after trying to investigate politicians over child abuse.

Retired Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll told the BBC’s Newsnight he was conducting an inquiry in 1998 into activity alleged to have taken place in Lambeth children’s homes in the 1980s.

Mr Driscoll said he had a list of suspects he wanted to look at, including local and national politicians. “Some of the names were people that were locally working. Some people that were if you like, working nationally, there was quite a mix really because it appeared that it was connected to other boroughs and other movement around the country,” he said.

Mr Driscoll said he was removed from his post after sharing his suspicions at a meeting with other officers. “I certainly in a case conference disclosed suspects’ names, 100%, but I was informed that was inappropriate and I would be removed from my post,” he said.

“Whenever people spoke to you and shared their fears and their story about what they had seen, it was almost on the proviso that they wouldn’t make a statement and that they would be scared if you released who those people were that were talking for fear of reprisals to both their selves and their families.”

Investigations are believed to have continued into more than 20 children’s homes after Mr Driscoll was moved. The Metropolitan Police has now reportedly asked to meet him about his claims.

Mr Driscoll, who went on to be involved in the probe that eventually resulted in convictions for the killing of teenager Stephen Lawrence, also claimed there were discussions within the force about holding back certain documents from an independent inquiry into the original murder investigation.

He told the programme he believed there were “disruption tactics” during his successful investigation. Some of Mr Driscoll’s claims could be considered by the Government’s independent inquiry into whether institutions covered up allegations of child abuse.


Ben Quinn, ‘Scotland Yard detective ‘removed over plan to investigate child abuse claims”
The Guardian, July 16th, 2014

Detective chief inspector claims he made people ‘uncomfortable’ by looking into alleged abuse at Lambeth children’s homes

A former Scotland Yard detective who won plaudits for his work on cases including the murder of Stephen Lawrence has claimed that he was moved from his post earlier when he revealed plans to investigate politicians over child abuse claims.

Speaking about his inquiries in 1998 into activity alleged to have taken place in Lambeth children’s homes in the 1980s, retired detective chief inspector Clive Driscoll said that his work was “all too uncomfortable to a lot of people”.

The Metropolitan police has now reportedly asked to discuss the claims with Driscoll, who told BBC Newsnight that he had a list of suspects he wanted to look at, including local and national politicians, adding: “Some of the names were people that were working locally. Some people that were if you like, working nationally, there was quite a mix really because it appeared that it was connected to other boroughs and other movement around the country.”

He claimed that he was removed from his post after sharing his suspicions at a meeting with other officers.

“I certainly in a case conference disclosed suspects’ names, 100%, but I was informed that was inappropriate and I would be removed from my post,” he said.

“Whenever people spoke to you and shared their fears and their story about what they had seen, it was almost on the proviso that they wouldn’t make a statement and that they would be scared if you released who those people were that were talking for fear of reprisals to both their selves and their families.”

Investigations are believed to have continued into more than 20 children’s homes after Driscoll was moved.

Driscoll, who served for more than 30 years with the police, retired this summer against his will after leading the reinvestigation that saw two men convicted of murder of Stephen Lawrence in 2012, 19 years after the killing.

He claimed on Newsnight that there had been discussions within the force about holding back certain documents from an independent inquiry into the original murder investigation.

Driscoll also said that he believed there were “disruption tactics” during his successful investigation.

Asked by Newsnight if he would now trust the Metropolitan police if he was the Lawrence family, Driscoll replied: “No, I probably would not.”

Duwayne Brooks, the surviving victim of the attack that killed Lawrence, has warned that the best chance to catch more of the gang who were involved in the racist attack may be lost because of Driscoll’s departure.

Brooks has described Driscoll’s departure as a “terrible blow” and said that many breakthroughs in the case were down to the detective’s personal style. He claimed that he and many other witnesses would talk only to Driscoll because he had spent years winning their confidence.


Keith Perry, ‘Scotland Yard detective ‘removed from paedophile probe after naming politicians’; The former top officer claimed he suddenly found himself taken off the case and put on a disciplinary after revealing politicians were among the suspects’
The Telegraph, July 16th, 2014

A former Scotland Yard detective has claimed he was moved from his post after trying to investigate politicians over child abuse.

Retired Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll told the BBC’s Newsnight he was conducting an inquiry in 1998 into activity alleged to have taken place inLambeth children’s homes in the 1980s.

Mr Driscoll said he had a list of suspects he wanted to look at, including local and national politicians. “Some of the names were people that were locally working. Some people that were if you like, working nationally, there was quite a mix really because it appeared that it was connected to other boroughs and other movement around the country,” he said.

Mr Driscoll said he was removed from his post after sharing his suspicions at a meeting with other officers. “I certainly in a case conference disclosed suspects’ names, 100%, but I was informed that was inappropriate and I would be removed from my post,” he said.

“Whenever people spoke to you and shared their fears and their story about what they had seen, it was almost on the proviso that they wouldn’t make a statement and that they would be scared if you released who those people were that were talking for fear of reprisals to both their selves and their families.”

Investigations are believed to have continued into more than 20 children’s homes after Mr Driscoll was moved. The Metropolitan Police has now reportedly asked to meet him about his claims.

Mr Driscoll, who went on to be involved in the probe that eventually resulted in convictions for the killing of teenager Stephen Lawrence, also claimed there were discussions within the force about holding back certain documents from an independent inquiry into the original murder investigation.

He told the programme he believed there were “disruption tactics” during his successful investigation. Some of Mr Driscoll’s claims could be considered by the Government’s independent inquiry into whether institutions covered up allegations of child abuse.



Robin de Peyer, ‘Met officer claims Scotland Yard moved him from child abuse probe over suspect names’
Evening Standard, July 16th, 2014

A respected former Met Police detective has said he was taken off a probe into child abuse claims after revealing he planned to investigate senior politicians.

Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll said his investigation in 1998 into allegations of abuse in children’s homes in Lambeth, south London, was “all too uncomfortable to a lot of people”.

He told the BBC that he was passed a list of names – which included those of politicians – he wished to investigate in connection.

But Mr Driscoll alleged that he was taken off the investigation after revealing the identities of some of those connected to the abuse.

“I certainly, in a case conference, disclosed suspects’ names… but I was informed that was inappropriate and I would be removed from my post,” he said.

“Whenever people spoke to you… about what they had seen, it was almost on the proviso that they wouldn’t make a statement and that they would be scared if you released who those people were that were talking, for fear of reprisals to both their selves and their families.”

Mr Driscoll added: “At the time I just felt that it was all too uncomfortable to a lot of people.”

Related stories

The claims come as allegations of an Establishment cover-up have triggered new inquiries, including two announced by Home Secretary Theresa May last week.

The retired officer won plaudits for his role in helping bring two of Stephen Lawrence’s killers to justice after the teenager’s racist murder in Eltham in 1993. David Norris and Gary Dobson were convicted of murder in January 2012.

Mr Driscoll alleged last night that some people within the Met did not want a prosecution: “There were certainly people I think in senior levels in the Met that weren’t enthusiastic about the investigation. I certainly felt that.”

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “The MPS will fully co-operate with the review led by Peter Wanless and the panel chaired by Baroness Butler-Sloss and provide detail of relevant information. Whilst these and live police investigations are ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment on this further.”We are aware of some claims being made by a retired officer which the MPS Directorate of Professional Standards is looking into and for that reason we are not prepared to discuss the matter further at this stage.

“Any allegations of this nature will be taken seriously and investigated accordingly.”


Tom Pettifor, ‘Corruption probe into ‘sacking’ of cop after he named minister as child abuse suspect;
In 1998 Clive Driscoll was subjected to disciplinary proceedings and moved from his child protection post in Lambeth, South London. Now anti-corruption cops are investigating whether his dismissal was linked to him naming an MP as a child abuse suspect’
Daily Mirror, July 16th, 2014

Anti-corruption police have launched an investigation into claims a top detective was removed from a child sex probe when he named a minister in Tony Blair’s government as a suspect.

In 1998 Clive Driscoll was subjected to disciplinary proceedings and moved from his child protection post in Lambeth, South London.

Mr Driscoll, who was forced to retire in May despite nailing two of Stephen Lawrence’s killers, was yesterday quizzed about his claims for more than three hours by detectives from the Met’s Department of Professional Standards. His meeting follows the Daily Mirror’s probe into the alleged cover-up of abusethat went on for many decades in children’s homes in Lambeth, South London.

The Mirror can now reveal that the decision to launch disciplinary proceedings against him was taken by Sir Denis O’Connor, who later became the Chief Inspector of Constabulary. He has told the Mirror he has no recollection of politicians being mentioned as possible suspects.

Sir Denis, then an assistant commissioner, set up a new children’s home probe codenamed Operation Middleton. Led by Det Supt Richard Gargini who reported to deputy assistant commissioner Sir Hugh Orde, it traced 200 victims and secured three convictions. A total of 19 suspects were never identified, fuelling fears a ­paedophile ring had operated involving men from outside the care system.

Child protection expert Helen Kenward jointly led the operation on the social services side. The Government monitored Mr Driscoll’s investigation and Operation Middleton through Paul Clark of the Social Services Inspectorate. Sir Hugh, Mr Gargini, Mr Clark and Ms Kenward met last December to discuss the Mirror investigation.

Sir Hugh said: “Paul Clark told us that he’d met you so it made sense to sit down and have a conversation about it. It was nothing sinister.”

Mr Driscoll was removed after he spoke to a witness who told him the Blair minister made lone evening visits to a children’s home run by convicted paedophile Michael John Carroll.

The witness, a former Lambeth social services boss, told the Mirror the politician would go to a flat in the Angell Road home in Brixton, South London, in the early 1980s along with young boys. Speaking at home in Chirk, Shropshire, Carroll, 65, last week said: “I have never met him (the politician).”

But the witness told detectives last year that Carroll told her the politician was his friend and that he visited the home, along with South Vale assessment centre, in West Norwood and took children out. Carroll was jailed for 10 years in 1999 for child sex offences.

Dr Nigel Goldie, in charge of child protection in Lambeth in 1998, said of Mr Driscoll’s removal: “There was something very unfortunate about how the whole thing was dealt with. There could have been good reason for it [Mr Driscoll’s investigation] being ended but the manner it was done suggests some form of cover-up.”

A memo from 1998 says the then health minister Frank Dobson was to be updated about the investigation. Mr Dobson denies being told a minister had been investigated about child sex abuse. Mr Clark also denies being aware of it. If you have any information that you think might help our investigation, please telephone the Mirror on 0800 282 591 or email mirrornews@mirror.co.uk


Martin Bentham, ‘Ex-Met officer calls for immunity to let police speak out on child abuse’
Evening Standard, July 16th, 2014

AN AMNESTY should be given to former police officers to allow them to speak out about paedophile networks operating in Westminster three decades ago, an ex-Special Branch officer has said.

Chris Hobbs, who spent 32 years with the Metropolitan Police, said that “quite a few” officers would have knowledge about child abuse allegations that they could give the inquiry set up by Home Secretary Theresa May.

But he warned that fear of potential prosecution might deter some from coming forward unless some form of immunity was given that would allow the officers to pass on the information with confidence.

His amnesty call came as another former Scotland Yard detective claimed that he was moved from his post after trying to investigate politicians over childabuse.

Retired Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll told the BBC’s Newsnight he had drawn up a list of suspects, including national and local politicians, after conducting an inquiry in 1998 into activity alleged to have taken place in Lambeth children’s homes in the Eighties. But he claimed that he was moved from his post after being told that it had been “inappropriate” for him to raise the names during a meeting with colleagues.

The new disclosures will heighten concern about whether the Government’s forthcoming inquiry into child abuse can establish the facts about the alleged historic paedophile networks operating at Westminster and elsewhere.

In his comments in an interview with Sky News, Mr Hobbs said it was clear that “quite a few” officers, from the rank of commissioner and chief constable down to detectives, would have known about allegations of child abuse among politicians three decades ago.

But he said an amnesty would now be the only way to encourage them to come forward and speak out.

Mr Hobbs said: “I think it would help, it would help set officers’ minds at rest if there was some form of protection there for them, that they weren’t suddenly going to subject to the criminal investigations for possibly just doing what they were told. I suspect there will be a substantial number of police officers that will know something and will be thinking to themselves, ‘Shall I come forward, dare I risk it, or if I keep my head down will the storm pass me by?’.”

Mr Hobbs added that “every police officer in London” at the time had heard rumours about Cyril Smith, the late Rochdale MP, who has been named as one of the abusers of young boys.

Meanwhile, Mr Driscoll said he had found widespread reluctance to speak out during his child abuse investigation, but had drawn up a list of suspects.

He added: “Some of the names were people that were locally working. Some people that were, if you like, working nationally. There was quite a mix really because it appeared that it was connected to other boroughs and other movement around the country.”

The Government’s inquiry will examine allegations about paedophile activity at Westminster and at organisations such as the BBC.


Corruption probe into ‘sacking’ of cop after he named minister as child abuse suspect
Legal Monitor Worldwide, July 17th, 2014

Anti-corruption police have launched an investigation into claims a top detective was removed from a child sex probe when he named a minister in Tony Blair’s government as a suspect.

In 1998 Clive Driscoll was subjected to disciplinary proceedings and moved from his child protection post in Lambeth, South London.

Mr Driscoll, who was forced to retire in May despite nailing two of Stephen Lawrence’s killers, was yesterday quizzed about his claims for more than three hours by detectives from the Met’s Department of Professional Standards. His meeting follows the Daily Mirror’s probe into the alleged cover-up of abuse that went on for many decades in children’s homes in Lambeth, South London.

The Mirror can now reveal that the decision to launch disciplinary proceedings against him was taken by Sir Denis O’Connor, who later became the Chief Inspector of Constabulary. He has told the Mirror he has no recollection of politicians being mentioned as possible suspects.

Sir Denis, then an assistant commissioner, set up a new children’s home probe codenamed Operation Middleton. Led by Det Supt Richard Gargini who reported to deputy assistant commissioner Sir Hugh Orde, it traced 200 victims and secured three convictions. A total of 19 suspects were never identified, fuelling fears a ­paedophile ring had operated involving men from outside the care system.

Child protection expert Helen Kenward jointly led the operation on the social services side. The Government monitored Mr Driscoll’s investigation and Operation Middleton through Paul Clark of the Social Services Inspectorate. Sir Hugh, Mr Gargini, Mr Clark and Ms Kenward met last December to discuss the Mirror investigation. Sir Hugh said: “Paul Clark told us that he’d met you so it made sense to sit down and have a conversation about it. It was nothing sinister.”

Mr Driscoll was removed after he spoke to a witness who told him the Blair minister made lone evening visits to a children’s home run by convicted paedophile Michael John Carroll.

The witness, a former Lambeth social services boss, told the Mirror the politician would go to a flat in the Angell Road home in Brixton, South London, in the early 1980s along with young boys. Speaking at home in Chirk, Shropshire, Carroll, 65, last week said: “I have never met him (the politician).”

But the witness told detectives last year that Carroll told her the politician was his friend and that he visited the home, along with South Vale assessment centre, in West Norwood and took children out. Carroll was jailed for 10 years in 1999 for child sex offences. Dr Nigel Goldie, in charge of child protection inLambeth in 1998, said of Mr Driscoll’s removal: “There was something very unfortunate about how the whole thing was dealt with. There could have been good reason for it [Mr Driscoll’s investigation] being ended but the manner it was done suggests some form of cover-up.”

A memo from 1998 says the then health minister Frank Dobson was to be updated about the investigation. Mr Dobson denies being told a minister had been investigated about child sex abuse. Mr Clark also denies being aware of it.


‘Inquiry ‘A Failure”
Croydon Advertiser Series, July 17th, 2014

ALEX Wheatle described the police investigation into abuse at children’s homes including Shirley Oaks as a “failure” because more needed to be done to explore why perpetrators had access.

His account follows the announcement of an independent inquiry to investigate the way public bodies handled sex abuse claims and a separate review by the Home Office into how it dealt with written allegations about powerful paedophiles in the 1980s.

Mr Wheatle called on Home Secretary Theresa May to ensure “all aspects of child abuse including violent, neglect and emotional abuse” are taken into account.

“Victims have their lives ruined by sexual assault,” he said. “Some even take their own lives because of it. I really hope my testimony will prompt others who have suffered to come forward and bear witness to the horrific crimes inflicted against them.”

Lambeth Council said it would co-operate fully with the reviews announced by the Home Office.


Gareth Davies, ‘Author’s claims of Shirley Oaks abuse rebuffed’
gareth.davies@croydonadvertiser.co.uk
Croydon Advertiser Series, July 17th, 2014

AN HISTORIAN and former resident of a children’s home in Shirley has questioned claims it was exploited by a paedophile ring.

Author Alex Wheatle, 51, alleged this week that he was sexually abused while living at Shirley Oaks Children’s Home in Wickham Road, where he lived between 1966 until 1978.

The father of three, appointed MBE in 1998, said he was “convinced” a network of paedophiles were operating in the home and that “the authorities knew about it at the time but did nothing”.

His account of life in Shirley Oaks, which was run by Lambeth Council and closed in 1983, has made headlines in several national newspapers and been covered by the BBC.

But, according to a man who lived at the home during the same period, his claims have deeply distressed some former residents and staff.

Gerry Coll, 53, who co-authored a history of Shirley Oaks, told the Advertiser: “Some of the things he has said are disrespectful to the people who passed through [the home], the vast majority of whom had good experiences there.

“I agree with some of Alex’s account, but what I cannot accept is that Shirley Oaks was rampant with sexual abuse. In no way was it. I lived there from 18 months to 13 years old and the staff were very good. I’ve had phone calls from people who are shocked and taken aback. They think what Alex has said is quite scandalous.”

Mr Wheatle arrived at Shirley Oaks aged three in 1966. His account includes how he was sexually assaulted by a doctor within the grounds of the children’s home. He wrote in the Mirror: “The first thing he told me to do was to strip naked. I stood there traumatised, unable to utter a sound as he sexually assaulted me. I wanted to ask my friends if they had suffered something similar but couldn’t bring myself to do it.”

Mr Wheatle, who later wrote Brixton Rock, said “unnamed men” would regularly visit Shirley Oaks. One, a swimming instructor, “manipulated himself” into the cottage where boys lived, “sleeping overnight in the sofa bed within the office”.

“He targeted boys in our cottage but also facilitated swimming lessons for other lads within the grounds as well as private clients. At these sessions he was the only adult present. There were no CRB checks in those days.

“It was only decades later that he was jailed for his disgusting crimes. I’m still unsure whether all of his victims came forward.”

After Shirley Oaks closed, the police and Lambeth Council launched a joint investigation into abuse at homes run by the authority.

Three people were jailed as a result of Operation Middleton, which found 16 alleged abusers had died and 19 others “could not be identified”.

Shirley Oaks is one of three Lambeth-run children’s homes the Mirror has linked to an alleged paedophile ring thought to involve an unnamed MP in Tony Blair’s government.

Those allegations include claims that the politician took boys out of South Vale children’s home in West Norwood in the 1980s.

Mr Wheatle told the paper: “I’m convinced there was a paedophile ring operating in both South Vale and Shirley Oaks and that the authorities knew about it at the time but did nothing.”

Mr Coll, who lived at Shirley Oaks during the same period, said: “I don’t believe there was a conspiracy. Hundreds, if not thousands, of children lived at Shirley Oaks and the vast majority were not abused.

“Where bad things happened they did so because people weren’t properly vetted. There was a police investigation 20 years ago and those responsible were caught. I don’t understand why it’s been dragged up again. We feel dirtied by it.”



Victims of abuse tell of cruelty at home
Croydon Advertiser Series, July 24th, 2014

VICTIMS of abuse at Shirley Oaks have come forward to support claims of systemic cruelty at the former children’s home.

Those who have spoken out, some for the first time, described being subjected to physical, emotional and sexual mistreatment, in some cases on an almost daily basis.

Most felt compelled to do so after author Alex Wheatle, 51, said he was sexually assaulted while living in the Lambeth-run children’s home between 1966 and 1978.

They were also angered by claims, made by a Shirley Oaks historian and former resident, that abuse was not endemic.

The Advertiser has spoken to seven victims since last week’s report into cruelty at the children’s home in Wickham Road, Shirley.

Three members of the same family have waived their right to anonymity to describe the harrowing experiences they faced while growing up in the care system.

All six children from the Gocan family were placed in Shirley Oaks after their father left and their mother had a breakdown in 1967. For more than a decade, Pauline Gocan, 50, has been fighting for answers as to why she was sexually abused by visitors to the children’s home.

The victims who agreed to speak to the Advertiser feel strongly that Operation Middleton, the joint police and council investigation into abuse at children’s homes in south London between 1974 and 1994, did not go far enough.

Three people were jailed as a result of the operation, which found 16 alleged abusers had died and 19 others “could not be identified”.


‘Punishments that crushed the spirit’
Croydon Advertiser Series, July 24th, 2014

THE abuse experienced by some of children placed in Shirley Oaks took many forms.

While those who were convicted of wrong-doing were predominantly sex offenders, former residents who spoke to the Advertiser this week described being the victims of physical and emotional cruelty on a day-to-day basis.

David Annon, 47, who was sent to Shirley Oaks in 1969, was regularly subjected to punishments he says were designed to crush his spirit.

“If we spoke at night time a guy would come in, get us out of bed, march us down to the kitchen and make us stand and face the wall with bare feet for two hours,” he explained.

“After a while they would come back down and make us take all of the pots and pans out of the cupboards and put them back again. This went on every other day. Imagine how that must have felt as a young child. We hadn’t done anything more than giggle.”

Mr Annon, who now lives in Peckham, was regularly “slapped” but he also saw staff punch children, sometimes in the face. On one occasion a care worker pinned him to a wall by his neck.

“They also used to force me down to the ground to comb my hair,” he said. “They used to rake it out. Even now I flinch when someone touches my hair.

“The abuse was constant and they got away with it. As a child you are frightened to talk. Kids used to be seen but not heard. We were so frightened that even when the punching was going on, we didn’t say anything, even to each other.”

Last year Mr Annon tried to pursue legal action against Lambeth Council, but was told he was unlikely to be successful.

“I was told I couldn’t go to court because it would just be my word to go on,” he said.

“They said if more people came forward than they would have a case. Now it’s starting to come out, my solicitor believes I should try again.”



‘Abuse victims all still bear emotional scars’
Croydon Advertiser Series, July 24th, 2014

VICTIMS of abuse at Shirley Oaks have come forward to support claims of systemic cruelty at the former children’s home.

Those who have spoken out, some for the first time, described being subjected to physical, emotional and sexual mistreatment, in some cases on an almost daily basis.

Most felt compelled to speak after author Alex Wheatle, 51, said he was sexually assaulted while living in the Lambeth-run children’s home between 1966 and 1978.

They were also angered by claims, made by a Shirley Oaks historian and former resident, that the abuse was not endemic.

The Advertiser has spoken to seven victims since last week’s report into cruelty at the children’s home, which closed in 1983.

Each described the harrowing experiences they faced while growing up in the care system, both in Shirley Oaks and, in some cases, elsewhere.

They feel strongly that Operation Middleton, the joint police and council investigation into abuse at children’s homes in south London between 1974 and 1994, did not go far enough.

Three people were jailed as a result of the operation, which found 16 alleged abusers had died and 19 others “could not be identified”.

All six children from the Gocan family were placed there after their father left the country and their mother had a breakdown in 1967. For more than a decade Pauline Gocan, 50, has been fighting for answers as to why she was sexually abused by visitors to the children’s home. She was inspired to speak out this week by Mr Wheatle’s account of being abused by a doctor.

Shirley Oaks is one of three Lambeth-run children’s homes the Daily Mirror has linked to an alleged paedophile ring thought to involve an unnamed MP in Tony Blair’s government.

Those allegations include claims the unnamed politician took boys out of South Vale children’s home in West Norwood in the 1980s.

Some of the people who agreed to speak to the Advertiser this week detailed how they were sexually abused by mysterious figures who were regular visitors to the home.

Others described being subject to frequent beatings, verbal abuse and punishments seemingly designed to humiliate and grind down the human spirit. Most felt unable to speak out at the time and have faced an almost impossible task of holding the authorities to account decades later.

What is also clear is the long-lasting impact of even the mistreatment which might be thought of as less serious.

Some of those who went on the record, now in their late 40s to early 50s, have problems with alcohol or drugs. Few are in work and most find it very difficult to form relationships.

Many still have nightmares and others have sought therapy. At one stage or another several have been in trouble with the law. Leigh Gocan has twice been convicted of armed robbery.

Perhaps most troubling is the example of his sister Yvonne Burdon, who has had all three of her children taken away from her and put into care. “History is repeating itself,” she said.

All of those who experienced ill-treatment at Shirley Oaks still bear the emotional and, in some cases, physical scars.

They reacted strongly when Gerry Coll, who went to the care home at the same time as Mr Wheatle and later co-authored a book on the history of the institution, said it was “in no way rampant with sexual abuse“.

Despite coming under fire this week, Mr Coll has written an open letter to the Advertiser reiterating his opinions.

Kevin Donnelly, who was in care at the same time as Mr Coll, is among those convinced that abuse was widespread at Shirley Oaks.

“The systematic physical, mental and sexual abuse that many children, including myself, suffered at the hands of people in charge of our so called care was horrific,” he said in a letter to the Advertiser.

Mr Donnelly, who now lives in Eastbourne, is one of the victims who was eventually able to see his abuser jailed as a result of Operation Middleton.

He said: “Because of the court case I had to eventually face my demons, tell my wife and family what had happened to me as a child after all those years, and I suffered a breakdown soon after.

“I have tried hard to settle down and move on with my life, but it will always be in the back of my mind as it will for all those who suffered the same fate.”

Middleton officers investigated 78 allegations of sexual abuse and 46 reports of cruelty or assault, leading to 16 arrests, four charges, three convictions and a death during a trial.

As a result of media coverage of historical sexual abuse, police received two further allegations in November 2012. A 63-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of a sexual offence against a minor and a 78-year-old woman was detained on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and child cruelty.

Both have been bailed pending further investigation.

Anyone who wishes to report an allegation of historic sexual abuse is urged to contact the police on 020 7161 0500. If you can help with the Advertiser’s investigation email gareth.davies@croydonadvertiser.co.uk

Turn to page 34 for Mr Coll and Mr Donnelly’s full letters.

GRAPHIC: HUGE SITE: At one time, Shirley Oaks had around 400 children on its books
LAST WEEK: Our story about Alex Wheatle’s allegations



‘They did things to me when they turned off the lights. And now I am petrified of the dark’
Croydon Advertiser Series, July 24th, 2014

“MY son once asked me why I leave the light on at night and I told him I do it because of my childhood,” said 50-year-old Pauline Gocan.

“I didn’t tell him it was because of Shirley Oaks. They did things to me when they turned the light off. Now I am petrified of the dark.”

Pauline and her five brothers and sisters were placed at Shirley Oaks Children’s Home in Wickham Road, Croydon, when their mother was diagnosed as schizophrenic in 1967.

She suffered physical, emotional or sexual abuse at the hands of staff and visitors to the home, which rarely fell below 400 children on roll before it was closed in 1983.

This week Pauline, her brother Leigh, 53, and sister Yvonne, 48, have waived their legal right to anonymity to talk, for the first time, about their experiences. They are among half a dozen victims who agreed to speak to the Advertiser this week after reading author Alex Wheatle’s account of being sexually assaulted by a doctor at the home run by Lambeth Council.

Their stories provide compelling evidence to support his claim, made in a national newspaper, of systemic abuse at Shirley Oaks, and their call for a new investigation.

Pauline met our reporter at her home in Brixton. Before describing her experiences at Shirley Oaks she asked Leigh to leave the room, as there are details she still feels unable to share with him. “I don’t know where to start,” she said. “I don’t know how to put it into words. I don’t have memories, I have nightmares.”

When Pauline and her siblings first arrived at Shirley Oaks they were separated and placed among the 38 cottages where the children lived.

Only six years old at the time, she recalls being sexually abused by “big people” who would regularly visit the dormitory at night.

“They would come and do things,” she said. “They would make us do things. They were sexually abusing me. When we were allowed out into the gardens, I would refuse to go back inside. Their response was to drag me back into the house and beat me. They used to hit me all the time. Sometimes it was the back of the hand, others a slipper. Beatings were all I knew. The house mother was a wicked woman.”

Like other victims who have chosen to speak out, Pauline felt unable to tell anyone about what was happening – even the other children.

“I don’t know why I didn’t talk about it. Maybe it’s because they were always threatening to lock me up. So I stayed silent and carried the shame with me until 2011.”

It was only then, 35 years later, that her doctor advised her to seek counselling. The therapist was the first person she told about being sexually assaulted. “It helped me to say what I wanted to say without fear of being locked up,” she explained.

A decade earlier, Pauline and several of her brothers and sisters spoke about some of their experiences to police officers assigned to Operation Middleton, an investigation into child abuse at several south London children’s homes, including Shirley Oaks. “The police listened to me but I didn’t get justice. Some did, but not me.”

Pauline has since pursued every conceivable avenue to find answers and closure, including small claims court action against Lambeth Council and an appeal to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. She was offered £3,600. “I didn’t take it, I thought it was an insult,” she said.

She wrote to David Cameron, with no success, before a solicitor agreed to review her case, only to tell her she had exhausted all her options. A few months later, in a moment of despair, she shredded the paperwork she had collected over a 22-year period.

“I had done all that work but nothing had come of it,” she said. “I saw the system as what it is. It’s fraudulent and fake. I wanted to get rid of every piece of evidence that I had been a part of it. I destroyed it and tried to get on with my life.”

Then, last week, she received a message from another victim. “Shirley Oaks is on the front page of the Mirror,” it read. “Spread the word.”

The spotlight was back on the children’s home thanks to writer Alex Wheatle. The father of three said he was “convinced” a network of paedophiles were operating in the home and that “the authorities knew about it at the time but did nothing”.

He described how “strange, nameless men” would visit the cottages, including a swimming instructor later convicted of abusing children at Shirley Oaks, including Pauline’s sister.

“When I read the story I knew it was my opportunity to come forward,” said Pauline, who rang the number at the end of the article and was advised by a reporter to contact the police.

Last Saturday, an officer visited her home to speak about her allegations. “It went very well. He said he couldn’t promise anything, but that’s the story of my life – there have never been any promises. I thought I had gone down all the legal avenues but the article has opened the way for me to come forward and say: ‘I want justice’.”

Whether or not Pauline and other victims will get the answers they are looking for is unclear. The recent public inquiry, set up to examine how public bodies dealt with sex abuse claims, has provided another glimmer of hope. For now they live with the long-term effects, not just of deliberate cruelty, but of a childhood in care.

“I was groomed to be a nasty person and my fight is not to be that way,” said Pauline. “All the things that happened to me when they came into my bed during the night, and all the beatings I took, groomed me to be bad.

“I was a child brought up in the system and then left to fend for myself. I’ve made a lot of errors but I can admit my mistakes.

“Now it’s time for those involved to do the same. It will only take one person to do what is right and maybe things can start to change.”

GRAPHIC: BRAVERY: Siblings Pauline and Leigh Gocan have waived their legal right to anonymity and spoken about the abuse they suffered at Shirley Oaks Children’s Home Photo by Gareth Davies


Andrew Jameson, ‘Witness tells of baby being beaten at children’s home’
Croydon Advertiser Series, July 31st, 2014
andrew.jameson@croydonadvertiser.co.uk

A WOMAN who was at Shirley Oaks Children’s Home in the early 1970s claims she witnessed a six-month-old baby being beaten by a member of staff.

More allegations of abuse at the Lambeth Council-run home emerged this week as a result of the Advertiser’s ongoing investigation.

Joanne Davies, 51, from Sutton, was placed at the home in the early 1970s and spent a few years there.

She said although she never witnessed or heard of sexual abuse during her time, she recalled seeing an horrific incident during her stay.

“I was the eldest in my house,” she said.

“We had a family of children staying because their mother had killed one of their siblings. But I remember seeing this six-month-old baby being beaten repeatedly by the man in charge of our house.

“I went and told someone and all that was done was the man was moved to another house which we used to walk past every day.

“I have no idea what must have gone on in there.”

Abuse at Shirley Oaks was investigated between 1998 and 2003 as part of Operation Middleton which looked at sexual and physical abuse allegations atLambeth care homes between 1975 and 1994.

Ms Davies supports the call of the other victims the Advertiser has spoken to reopen the investigation properly and said she was disappointed with Operation Middleton.

She also said the abuse was clearly widespread and felt the operation was too focused on specific allegation.

Ms Davies said: “I was mad. When Operation Middleton was going on I got in touch and said they shouldn’t just be focused on what went on in the swimming pool – there were 34 different houses in the place, there was a lot more to look at.

“The woman took my contact details but never got back in touch. When I read the Advertiser last week, I was so shocked.”

When she attempted to gain access to her file in 2000, Ms Davies was denied access until the Freedom of Information Act was passed in 2001 – although the file was said to contain limited information.

Alex Wheatle, whose account of the sexual abuse he suffered when at Shirley Oaks made national headlines, told the Advertiser this week he did not want to go “tit-for-tat” with Gerry Coll, 53, who co-authored a book on the history of Shirley Oaks and who disputes Mr Wheatle’s claim that sexual abuse was rife within the home.

“For the last eight years, nothing has really happened. There are still a lot of questions which need answering,” Mr Wheatle said.

“I have said what I have to say about this, I don’t really want to talk about it much more.”

The police investigation into the abuse at Lambeth’s children’s homes is still ongoing as Operation Trinity. Two men and a woman were arrested as part of the operation last year and are the most recent arrests.

One man has been charged but the offences do not relate to Shirley Oaks.

Anyone who wishes to report an allegation of past sexual abuse is urged to contact specially trained police officers on 020 7161 0500.

GRAPHIC: investigation: Shirley Oaks Children’s Home was one of many Lambeth homes to be investigated
Answers needed: Alex Wheatle has spoken out about the sexual abuse he suffered at Shirley Oaks Children’s Home


Croydon Advertiser Series, August 14th, 2014

I WAS given a copy of the Croydon Advertiser from the July 25 2014.

I was shocked and appalled to read about abuse that took place in Shirley Oaks.

I was a young boy in the children’s home when it was known as Shirley Residential School later to become Shirley Oaks.

I went into the home from another residential home at Ashford, Middlesex in January 1952. At that time, the school was run by London County Council I was there for nine years and in all that time, there was never any scandals about child abuse. Yes, we did get smacked for bad behaviour but it definitely was NOTabuse.

I can honestly say that we were treated very well and very well fed.

I do not think the children could have had a better upbringing. We had a lot of things that families did not always get.

We had our own swimming pool, lots of field sports, a very good education both at the internal primary school and at secondary modern schools outside the home.

We had films every two weeks and as much play time outside of school hours.

As for adults coming into the school to take children away for the weekends, it just did not happen unless it was the parents of the child, or an aunt, but before the child went, the parents or auntie had to get permission from the headmaster. I do know that on rare occasions, this was refused.

All the abuses in your article appear to have happened when the London Borough of Lambeth took over the school from the LCC. Lambeth only had the school for a short time before it was closed but in that time, the school became so rundown, with a very large turnover of staff. I often returned to the cottage to see the housemother after I left Shirley Oaks in 1961 and once Lambeth took over, I was told I would not be welcome to visit.

Lambeth has a lot to answer for concerning Shirley Oaks, especially what happened to the money that they got for the grounds – which was 98 acres.

These are my own feelings concerning Shirley Oaks. A really wonderful childhood I do not think I would have changed.

Richard Dutton


Tom Pettifor, ‘Police investigating claims minister in Tony Blair government abused vulnerable children in the 80s; The Metropolitan Police has launched Operation ­Overview in response to Mirror reports about the politician, who was a rising Labour star at the time’
Daily Mirror, September 28th, 2014

Detectives are investigating claims that a minister in Tony Blair’s government sexually abused children in the 1980s, Scotland Yard have revealed.

Officers from Operation Overview have interviewed a number of witnesses in connection with an alleged cover up of child sex abuse by the politician inLambeth, south London.

The Daily Mirror can reveal they are examining claims that photographs of the Labour star with a convicted paedophile disappeared after they were handed to police.

The images allegedly included the politician pictured on caravan holidays with the pervert, who was first convicted of child abuse in 1966, and vulnerable youngsters in the 1980s.

The latest allegation comes from a youth worker who says he gave the police 100 photos along with a 30-page signed statement in the late 1990s.

The witness claims he was told by a detective a year later that his evidence had disappeared.

He said: “We were not talking about some historical documents, this was a statement I had given them just 12 months earlier.

“As soon as I discovered it had disappeared I refused to say anything else to the police. I was very alarmed. It blew me off the planet to think it had gone.”

The police team was set up following a series of articles in the Daily Mirror revealing how retired detective Clive Driscoll was removed from investigating a paedophile ring in November 1998 in Lambeth, south London, after naming politicians among the suspects.

The inquiry has been operating in secret at the headquarters of Scotland Yard’s child abuse command at Empress State Building in Earl’s Court, London.

The Met stressed the operation was a “scoping exercise” aimed at a preliminary assessment of the evidence rather than a formal inquiry.

The team have been told by the former youth worker that he took photographs of holidays between 1986 and 1994 after starting his first job as a youth worker with the Association of Combined Youth Clubs, partly run by convicted paedophile Michael John Carroll.

The former youth worker said two senior detectives spent a day quizzing him at Walworth Road police station in south east London after Carroll was arrested in June 1998.

He said: “They told me he was part of a paedophile ring and had turned supergrass and was giving evidence against (others). They wanted to know who I knew in the organisation who was involved in the children’s holidays and which guys were coming down.

“I have worked in criminal justice for many years and am clear it was a standard MG11, a statement, signed and dated and tape recorded.

“I told them everything I knew. I took in a stack of pictures and the police removed about 100 that showed the adults who had visited.

“I gave them detailed information and photographs of all the men who had stayed in the caravans. I named names and gave information about where the men worked and sometimes where they lived.”

Labour MP Tom Watson interviews new witness over alleged child sex abuse cover up

Labour MP Tom Watson said: “This is another compelling witness uncovered by the Daily Mirror who gives a first hand account detailing a cover up of possible child sexual abuse.

“I will be writing to both the Commissioner of the Metropolitan police and the chief constable of Merseyside police to demand an urgent inquiry into what happened to these photographs and the witness statement.

“If evidence has been deliberately destroyed or hidden then those who were involved in this must be held to account.

“Senior politicians and police officers must be questioned about what they knew and criminal charges should be brought if evidence is found of a cover up.”

Referring to missing Home Office files, Mr Watson added: “This appears to be yet another example where potential evidence relating to child abuse, apparently given to the police, has gone missing.”

Carroll was said to be on a committee that hand picked around 60 deprived boys and girls, aged five to 14, to go to the Havens caravan park in Christchurch, near Bournemouth, for two weeks every summer.

Many came from Catholic children’s homes and had already suffered sexual abuse.

A group of men, including the rising Labour star, would allegedly travel down on the Friday evening and sleep in the caravans with the children over the weekends.

The new witness said he cut his ties with the ACYC in the mid 1990s when he learned some colleagues were convicted paedophiles. It changed it’s name shortly afterwards before shutting down.

He claimed: “It became quite clear that the organisation had been infiltrated by a group of paedophiles.

“This was a paedophile ring protected by the police and people connected to Lambeth council who were taking away very vulnerable children every year for a decade. It was like a conveyor belt feeding children to abusers.

“Sometimes kids would wet the bed and then they would sleep with in the adult’s room. At the time I didn’t have a problem with it. It was totally plausible.

“Carroll would always say he was untouchable. He was a kingpin in Lambeth.”

Carroll was jailed for a string of child sex offences at Liverpool Crown Court in 1999 following an investigation by Merseyside police.

He had eight counts of indecency and rape against three girls dropped in 2000 at Liverpool Crown Court after the the Crown Prosecution Service abandoned the case. The court heard the case was dropped because of “evidential difficulties” and that the three women stood by their stories.

The paedophile denies ever meeting the Labour politician or being connected to a paedophile ring in Lambeth.

The new witness is speaking to the Metropolitan police after he was tracked down by the Mirror. They are understood to have so far been unable to find the photographs or the statement.

The force’s Department for Professional Standards are investigating if anyone should face criminal proceedings over the alleged cover-up.

The witness is prepared to give evidence at any possible future trial as well as to the public inquiry into claims of an establishment cover up of child sex abuse.

Home Secretary Teresa May announced the inquiry after it emerged a dossier handed to Leon Brittan by Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens detailing allegations of a 1980s Westminster vice ring is one of 114 potentially relevant Home Office files that have disappeared.

The Association of Combined Youth Clubs was founded in 1977 and funded by the Inner London Education Authority, local councils and the Met police. Princess Anne became the patron and BBC presenter David Dimbleby was a director. There is no suggestion they knew anything about the abuse.

The ACYC had strong links with the Catholic church, senior politicians and police officers.

Records seen by the Daily Mirror show Carroll was a board member in the early 1980s.

The former youth worker said four or five other members of the organisation were later convicted of child sex offences or found to already have convictions. The Mirror has so far been unable to find details of the offences.

A spokesman for Merseyside police said they had conducted a thorough search and could find no record of the new witness having given a statement or photographs to them. A spokeswoman for the Met refused to comment about the statement and pictures.

It said in a statement: “Officers from the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command are conducting a scoping exercise, Operation Overview, in response to the Mirror’s reports of historic sexual offending in Lambeth.

“This has not yet reached the threshold for a criminal investigation and we have no victim allegations at this time.

Any victim of abuse is urged to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.


‘Cops probing Labour minister’ abuse claim
Daily Record & Sunday Mail, September 29th, 2014

DETECTIVES are looking into claims a minister in Tony Blair’s government sexually abused children in the 1980s.

Officers from Operation Overview have interviewed a number of people in connection with an alleged cover-up of child sex abuse by the politician in Lambeth,London.

Police are examining claims that photographs of the Labour star with a convicted paedophile disappeared after they were handed to police.

They allegedly showed him on holidays with the pervert and vulnerable youngsters in the 1980s.

The Met said Operation Overview was a “scoping exercise” and they had no allegations from victims yet.


Tom Pettifor, ‘Probe into Tony Blair ‘Child Sex’ Minister’
Daily Mirror, September 29th, 2014

POLICE are investigating claims a minister in Tony Blair’s government abused vulnerable children in the 80s, Scotland Yard has revealed.

The Met has launched Operation Overview in response to Mirror reports about the politician, who was a rising Labour star at the time.

Officers have interviewed a number of witnesses in connection with an alleged cover up of child sex abuse by him.

Detectives are examining claims that photographs of the man with a convicted paedophile and vulnerable youngsters – taken during caravan holidays – vanished after they were handed to police.

The allegation comes from a former youth worker who says he gave officers the snaps along with a 30-page signed statement in the late 90s only to be told a year later they had disappeared.

He said: “We were not talking about some historical documents, this was a statement I had given them just 12 months earlier.

“As soon as I discovered it had disappeared I refused to say anything else to the police. I was very alarmed.”

The witness said he took photos between 1986 and 1994 while with the Association of Combined Youth Clubs, a group partly run by paedophile Michael John Carroll. He was the pervert the politician allegedly visited at a children’s home. in Lambeth, South London. Carroll was said to be on a committee that picked boys and girls aged five to 14 to go to a holiday park in Christchurch, Dorset, each summer.

Men, including the politician, would allegedly sleep in the caravans. It is not suggested they were on the committee.

The witness said police quizzed him after Carroll’s arrest in 1998.

He said: “They told me he was part of a paedophile ring turned supergrass. I gave them photographs of all the men who had stayed in the caravans. I named names.”

Detectives are understood to have so far been unable to find the snaps or the statement. Labour MP Tom Watson said: “This is another compelling witness uncovered by the Mirror. Senior politicians and police must be questioned about what they knew and charges should be brought if there was a cover up.”

Carroll, who denies meeting the politician, was jailed in 1999 for child sex. The Met refused to comment on the claims.

Overview was set up after we revealed that detective Clive Drisdeprived coll was removed from the probe in 1998 after naming politicians as suspects.

The Met said Operation Overview is a “scoping exercise” launched in response to the “Mirror’s reports of historic sexual offending in Lambeth“.

Any victim of abuse is urged to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.

tom.pettifor@mirror.co.uk

VOICE OF MIRROR: PAGE 8

GRAPHIC: paedo ‘carer’ Carroll was jailed.



‘Cover-Up is probed’
Daily Mirror, November 6th, 2014

A STRING of historical abuse allegations has been made against politicians in the last two years.

Scotland Yard is investigating claims uncovered by the Daily Mirror that a minister in Tony Blair’s government was protected by the establishment when a detective investigated him on suspicion of child sex abuse.

Retired Met officer Clive Driscoll said he was removed from the children’s home probe in Lambeth, South London, in 1998 after he named politicians as suspects. Operation Overview has interviewed witnesses in connection with the alleged cover-up.

Scotland Yard is also carrying out an internal anti-corruption inquiry.

Police launched a number of investigations after Labour’s Tom Watson made claims of sexual abuse linked to Westminster to MPs in October 2012.

A national police group is exploring possible links between child sex abuse probes involving celebrities and politicians, and schools and care homes.



James Murray, ‘Was this social worker killed because he got too close to an Establishment child abuse snuff film ring?’
Sunday Express, November 16th, 2014

SCOTLAND YARD is being asked to investigate two potential child murders and the deaths of a man and a woman as part of the rapidly expanding investigation into VIP paedophile rings.

One boy is feared to have been trafficked to Holland for a snuff video – he is believed to have been murdered on film – and another boy vanished after being seen with a notorious child killer.

A social worker was battered to death after planning to blow the whistle on a gang and a woman who ran a guest house where paedophiles were filmed died in suspicious circumstances.

The developing strands of the complex investigation come as Prime Minister David Cameron is under mounting pressure to appoint a head of the public inquiry into historic sex abuse scandals said to involve a former Cabinet minister, several MPs and spy chief Sir Peter Hayman.

Today we reveal former social worker Chris Fay has told Scotland Yard of how a paedophile ring trafficked the boy to Holland.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Express, Mr Fay said: “I was in contact with a Dutch police investigator looking into snuff videos some 30 years ago.

“He sent me an audio tape of what sounded like a snuff video taking place. I distinctly heard a boy aged about 10 with the same south London accent as me. I went cold and was naturally very worried for the child’s safety.

“It was thought a paedophile ring had arranged for the boy to be sent to Holland, effectively selling him on to other paedophiles.

“Nobody has ever established what happened to the child. It was known snuff movies involving child murder were going on in Holland.

“Over the years I have gained a great deal of knowledge of paedophile rings which I have passed on to the police.”

Mr Fay suspects that paedophile Sidney Cooke was involved in trafficking children. Farm labourer Cooke, 87, of Stroud, Gloucestershire, was jailed in 1985 for the sadistic manslaughter of 14-year-old Jason Swift who died during a horrific attack.

His body was found in a shallow grave in Essex.

Mr Fay said: “Cooke was a highly dangerous, evil person working with a well-organised ring. There is evidence that he was seen with two boys going into a wooded area in east London and one of the boys escaped. “Police spoke to the boy who got away but they never found the other boy and I fear he was abused and murdered.

“I raised this with the police back in 1990.”

It is believed Yard officers have spoken to Cooke, who is being treated in the hospital wing of Wakefield Prison in Yorkshire after he suffered a stroke.

Cold case detectives are also looking into the unsolved murder of social worker Bulic Forsythe, who uncovered a vice ring centred on a children’s home.

Mr Forsythe, 42, was found dead with a smashed skull in his burning London flat in 1993.

Months earlier he told colleagues of his concerns about organised child abuse in which films were apparently made. One name mentioned was that of a future Labour minister.

Earlier this year his daughter Kiddist, 21, said: “Police must examine whether my dad was killed because of what he knew about child sex abuse in Lambethand if it was linked to people in power.

“He told more than one person he was going to expose wrongdoing in the borough shortly before he was murdered.”

Scotland Yard is also investigating child abuse alleged to have been carried out by a Westminster paedophile ring at the Elm House guest house in Barnes, west London, and the exclusive Dolphin Square apartments just a short walk from Parliament. Carole Kasir, 47, ran the gay-friendly guest house, which several MPs including the disgraced Liberal Democrat Cyril Smith are said to have visited.

She is said to have taken photographs of well-known visitors in compromising situations with juveniles.

In June 1990 she was found dead in her London flat from an insulin overdose. Notes indicating suicide were found nearby. However, during the inquest the coroner said “conspiracy allegations threw doubt on the accuracy of the suicide notes”.

A suicide verdict was later recorded.

Mr Fay said: “Scotland Yard should be taking a closer look at her death. She was keeping an awful lot of secrets.”

The Yard is also investigating separate allegations that a former Cabinet minister, spy chief and military figures were part of a paedophile ring abusing children at Dolphin Square.

A witness told the BBC: “They created fear that penetrated every part of me, day in day out.

“You didn’t question what they wanted. You did as they asked and the punishments were very severe.”

Among those who attended the parties was MI6 chief Sir Peter Hayman, who was caught with paedophile literature in 1978 and fined six years later for gross indecency. He died in 1992 at the age of 78.

Scotland Yard said in a statement it was aware of allegations of sexual abuse said to have occurred more than 30 years ago and its investigations had led to information regarding possible homicide.

Child abuse detectives and homicide colleagues were looking at the case under the codename Operation Midland. It went on: “At this early stage in this inquiry, with much work still to do, it is not appropriate to issue appeals or reveal more information.”

‘It sounded like a snuff video was taking place – a boy of about 10 with a London accent. I went cold’

GRAPHIC: Pictures: MIRRORPIX; REXVICTIM: Jason Swift and Sidney Cooke, jailed for killing himUNSOLVED MURDER: Social worker Bulic Forsythe was found with a smashed skull in his burning flat raising suspicions he was killed to hush him up


Don Hale, ‘Sex gang ‘murders”
Daily Star, November 16th, 2014

DETECTIVES investigating an alleged VIP child abuse ring are looking into the possible murder of two whistleblowers more than 30 years ago.

It is thought the pair, who worked in a children’s home, were about to reveal information about the alleged Westminster paedophile ring. The shock news came after it emerged Scotland Yard is probing a “possible homicide” at a block of luxury flats popular with MPs.

The Dolphin Square apartments in Pimlico, London, are said to have been used for child sex abuse “parties” involving senior politicians, spy chiefs and leading military and legal figures in the 1970s and 80s.

But an MP now claims the alleged sex abuse ring may have been linked to at least two more murders.

John Mann, 54, inset above, said: “The deaths of these people are linked to a children’s home at Lambeth and concern two adults that I believe were murdered.

“They were both potential whistle- blowers who knew about the paedophile activities of senior political figures and well-known individuals.

“I have given the details to the police before but now they seem to be taking the allegations seriously and I have been interviewed and expect to be interviewed again soon.

John Mann

“The information has come from various sources including alleged victims of this paedophile ring. They have also told me of many suicides by children who were abused and humiliated.”

Met Police detectives are currently searching for the infamous “Dickens Dossier” – the missing file detail- ing allegations of a Westminster child sex ring in the 1980s.

Mr Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, Notts, added: “Since the Dickens Dossier and the activities of paedophile MP Cyril Smith have been highlighted, victims have started coming forward.

“At first I heard from about eight victims but now dozens of people are coming forward to give evidence. “They are naming names but they are not all politicians or famous people.”

The Government set up an inquiry into claims of a top level cover-up of VIP paedophiles but Home Secretary Theresa May has struggled to find a chairman.

Two people asked to lead the inquiry – lawyer Fiona Woolf and retired judge Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss – have been forced to quit over their links to the Establishment.



Rebecca Camber, ‘MP ‘told police about VIP paedophile ring’s parties 26 years go’: Labour’s John Mann claims he handed evidence of abuse over to Scotland Yard but investigation was shelved’
Daily Mail, November 17th, 2014

  • MP John Mann said he handed evidence of ‘abuse parties’ to police in 1998
  • Claims case was closed within three months on orders of ‘those at the top’
  • Police probing reports of murders linked to paedophile ring in 1970 and 80s

Police were told a Cabinet minister and prominent MPs were abusing children 26 years ago at a block of luxury flats used by politicians but nothing was done, a senior MP revealed yesterday.

Fears of a cover-up of an Establishment paedophile ring deepened last night as an MP said he handed over evidence in 1988 of ‘abuse parties’ at Dolphin Square and other London locations, but an investigation was shelved by Scotland Yard.

Labour’s John Mann said the case was closed within three months on the orders of ‘those at the top’.

His revelation came as it emerged that police are probing disturbing reports of three murders linked to the alleged VIP paedophile ring in the 1970s and 1980s.

A victim has claimed he saw a Conservative MP strangle a 12-year-old boy to death at an ‘abuse party’ in a Central London townhouse around 1980.

The witness, known only as Nick, says a Tory Cabinet minister watched two men kill a second boy in a depraved sexual assault a year later.

He has also told police he saw a boy of ten or 11 being run over in broad daylight.

The extraordinary allegations come just days after Scotland Yard announced it was setting up a new inquiry, Operation Midland, to investigate ‘possible homicides’ more than 30 years ago linked to a child abuse network said to involve senior politicians, spy chiefs, prominent military and legal figures.

But yesterday Mr Mann claimed the Metropolitan Police knew back in 1988 that these sex parties were happening and did nothing to stop them.

As a young councillor investigating corruption in his local borough of Lambeth, Mr Mann uncovered evidence that a Tory Cabinet minister and other serving politicians were sexually abusing children taken from care homes to Dolphin Square, a luxury riverside estate in Pimlico which has been home to dozens of MPs.

He reported his concerns to Lambeth police, but told the Mail: ‘I was told in 1989 by local police that they were very unhappy but they had been instructed to stop the investigation by someone at the top of the police.’

In July this year, it emerged that a 40-page dossier on suspected Establishment paedophiles compiled by the late Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens and sent to then Home Secretary Leon Brittan in 1983 had vanished.

A recent Home Office inquiry into its whereabouts failed to uncover the files and Home Secretary Theresa May said she could not rule out a possible cover-up.

Tom Watson, the Labour MP who first raised the alarm in 2012 at Prime Minister’s Questions when he said a paedophile ring was linked to ‘Parliament and No 10’, called for a national police inquiry.

‘The allegations of cruelty, torture and murder are truly shocking, and go far beyond the case that I raised with the Prime Minister two years ago,’ he said.

‘The public will be deeply concerned, which is why it is vital the police quickly establish the facts.

‘They are such disturbing allegations that I have no doubt that the resources will be found to conduct a thorough investigation.’

I SAW TORY STRANGLE 12-YEAR-OLD BOY TO DEATH, CLAIMS ‘ABUSE VICTIM’

The man whose allegations of VIP sex parties are at the centre of a police inquiry last night claimed to have witnessed a boy being murdered by a Tory MP.

Known only as ‘Nick’, the witness said the horrifying experience of being assaulted by an alleged VIP paedophile ring of MPs, spy chiefs, military and legal officials had haunted his life.

Around 1980, he recalls being driven by a chauffeur to a luxury London townhouse with a terrified 12-year-old boy who he claims was then strangled to death by a Tory MP.

The man told the Sunday People: ‘I knew we were being taken somewhere to be sexually abused by powerful men. But I had no idea of the true horror of what was about to happen.’

He also claims a Tory Cabinet minister and another Tory MP raped him and other boys aged between ten and 14, who were chauffeur-driven to parties across London in luxury cars.

One of the addresses where the alleged parties took place was in Dolphin Square, a prestigious Pimlico complex popular with MPs.

Nick believes he was taken there at least ten times for ‘abuse parties’ between 1975 and 1984.

In 1979, he says he saw an unknown member of the paedophile gang run over a boy of ten or 11 in south-west London as a ‘warning’ to other victims not to speak out. Then, in 1981, he alleges a third child was murdered in front of a Tory Cabinet minister.

After received counselling for the abuse he suffered, Nick contacted the Exaro investigative website in May before deciding to go to police. His claims are being investigated by Scotland Yard.


Guy Adams, ‘Paedophile orgies in luxury flats and claims three boys were murdered by VIPs: Special report into the growing stench of a cover-up by the Establishment ‘
Daily Mail, November 21st, 2014

The claim was as clear as it was chilling: behind the genteel façade of one of London’s most famous apartment blocks, children faced abuse on an industrial scale.

Every weekend, groups of vulnerable boys from local care homes were being smuggled to an address in Dolphin Square, Pimlico. There, after being plied with alcohol, they suffered sickening sexual assaults.

The paedophile ring orchestrating these crimes had, over time, come to believe it enjoyed immunity, a whistle-blower told police at the time.

After all, members were said to include a cross-section of Britain’s most influential politicians.

‘I had been specifically told that we were dealing with Conservative MPs,’ that whistle-blower, John Mann, recalled to me this week. ‘That’s one of the things which stood out for me.

‘Another was how violent it sounded. There was talk of dogs being involved and beatings. I would describe it as quite awful; the sort of thing you don’t easily forget.’

Mann, who is now a prominent Labour MP, originally stumbled across claims of abuse at Dolphin Square in 1988, when he was an ambitious young councillor in the South London borough of Lambeth.

At the time, he was leading an inquiry into endemic corruption in the Left-wing council’s housing department, where millions of pounds of taxpayer money was being syphoned to crooked building contractors.

‘The whole place was rotten to the core,’ he recalls. ‘I was leading a team of three or four employees looking into it. The scale of corruption was enormous. It involved criminal gangs. Two of our sources were drivers for [the Krays’ gangster rival] Charlie Richardson.’

During the course of this 18-month investigation, Mann had, however, uncovered evidence of a very different sort of organised crime: that a shady group linked to the building fraud was also running child sex rackets.

‘My team was getting tip-offs about all sorts of things,’ he says. ‘But this particular one was very precise. We were told that young boys from Lambeth care homes were being recruited as rent boys. Many went to Dolphin Square.

‘We were told this by several sources. It was very specific: there were sex parties there, and they involved Tory MPs.’

Initially, Mann says he ‘couldn’t work out what to do’ with this information, since ‘sex crimes weren’t something we were supposed to be investigating’.

But soon, realising the gravity of the situation, he decided to call a meeting with two officers from Streatham police station in South London.

‘I told them everything, and they promised to look closely into it,’ he says.

So far, so straightforward. But three months later, Mann heard a knock on the door of his office on South Lambeth Road. It was the two policemen. They apologised, but told me they had been forced to close their entire investigation,’ Mann recalls.

‘They’d been forced to drop it. Pressure had come from on high in the police service. There was nothing they could do about it. They were very unhappy.’

With that, the Dolphin Square child sex scandal of 1988 was brushed under the carpet.

And there it might very well have remained were it not for an extraordinary series of events which began at exactly 12.06pm last Friday.

That was when the Metropolitan Police issued a press release revealing that it has launched an inquiry, ‘possible homicide’, linked to an establishment paedophile ring believed to have operated at Dolphin Square and other locations 30 years ago.

News of the inquiry, Operation Midland, came as an alleged victim, known as ‘Nick,’ gave two harrowing interviews detailing his ordeal at the hands of ‘very powerful people’ who ‘controlled my life for … nine years’.

Speaking to the BBC, ‘Nick’ told how he was originally ‘handed over’ to the group by his own father, an active paedophile, in the late 1970s.

‘They created fear that penetrated every part of me,’ he said. ‘I’ve never experienced pain like it. I hope I never do again.’

The group was ‘very organised’ and included leading members of the judiciary, military, and security services, along with politicians. It would hire chauffeurs to pick up victims and ferry them to sex parties or ‘sessions’.

The group would hire chauffeurs to pick up victims and ferry them to sex parties

After several hours of carousing, the ‘sessions’ would descend into ‘private time’, where ‘you’d have to perform various sexual things, but it would always culminate in being raped’.

On occasion, events took an even darker turn. For in an interview with Exaro, an investigative website, ‘Nick’ made the extraordinary claim that in addition to abusing victims, the gang had killed at least three of them.

He recalled seeing one small boy murdered in the presence of a former Tory Cabinet Minister, and another asphyxiated by a Conservative MP at a central London townhouse.

‘I watched while that happened. I am not sure how I got out of that,’ he said.

The third murder is said to have occurred in broad daylight on a street in South-West London in 1979, when a member of the group deliberately ran over and killed a boy aged between 11 and 12.

‘Nick,’ who claims to have visited Dolphin Square on at least ten occasions (and recalls its ‘dimly-lit, musty corridors’), has supplied Operation Midland with a written account of his ordeal and been interviewed extensively by investigators, passing them names of the Tory MP and the Cabinet Minister.

He has also identified a third abuser, Sir Peter Hayman, a former diplomat prominent in the Paedophile Information Exchange, a pro-paedophile lobby group endorsed at the time by the National Council for Civil Liberties, run by the future Labour grandees Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and Patricia Hewitt.

The three boys identified by ‘Nick’ are doubtless not the only alleged victims now on Operation Midland’s radar.

On Wednesday, for example, the father of Vishal Mehrotra, an eight-year-old boy murdered in the 1980s, went public with the claim that his son also died at the hands of a Westminster paedophile ring.

Vishambar Mehrotra, a retired magistrate, told the Daily Telegraph how he received an anonymous phone call following his son’s disappearance on a Putney street in July 1981.

It purportedly came from a male prostitute who believed Vishal had been taken to Elm Guest House, a gay brothel in nearby Barnes allegedly frequented by high-profile sex offenders, including several figures now implicated in the Dolphin Square scandal.

At the time, Mr Mehrotra passed a 15-minute tape recording of the call to detectives, but claims they never properly investigated the allegation.

Part of Vishal’s body was found in woodland in West Sussex in February 1982. His legs, pelvis and lower spine were missing, along with his outer clothes and Superman underpants.

‘Now it is clear to me that there has been a huge cover-up,’ Mr Mehrotra said. ‘There is no doubt in my mind.’

The very idea that grown men might have killed small boys for sexual gratification might sound outlandish, but it’s not without precedent.

In a notorious 1989 court case, Sidney Cooke and three other members of a paedophile gang dubbed The Dirty Dozen were convicted of killing 14-year-old Jason Swift, who had been gang-raped.

Cooke was later implicated by one of his co-accused in that case, Leslie Bailey, of having also been involved in the 1984 abduction, rape and killing of seven-year-old Mark Tildesley, although only Bailey was eventually charged, having pleaded guilty to Mark’s manslaughter.

Police are believed to have tried recently (without success) to persuade the now 87-year-old Cooke to assist with recent inquiries. He is understood to have refused to help, and is not believed to have had personal links with MPs, judges or other VIPs.

Wherever they lead, this week’s developments will, nonetheless, add weight to claims – first aired by the Labour MP Tom Watson in October 2012 – that a ‘powerful paedophile network’ with links to Parliament operated with impunity in the 1970s and 1980s, using friends in high places to stay ahead of the law.

A string of prominent figures from all three major parties have so far been implicated in the scandal, most notably Cyril Smith, the Lib Dem MP for Rochdale, and Sir Peter Morrison, Margaret Thatcher’s private secretary.

The former Home Secretary Leon Brittan, has, meanwhile, been accused of ignoring or burying a dossier, given to him by the Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens in 1983, which named eight MPs as members of the sex ring. He denies the allegation.

Over the past year, I have devoted much of my time to investigating these child sex scandals, along with others involving the Paedophile Information Exchange, the Labour peer Lord Janner, and the Tory backbencher Sir Nicholas Fairbairn.

The idea that grown men might have killed small boys for sexual gratification might sound outlandish, but it’s not without precedent

While a definitive ‘smoking gun’ is yet to emerge, the surprising number of parallels between the cases, and the weight of evidence to support the often-outlandish claims at their centre, leaves me in little doubt that some sort of Establishment paedophile ring existed in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s. And it seems increasingly likely many of its members were protected by the security services.

With this in mind, three police investigations are duly underway: Operation Midland, Operation Fernbridge (focusing on Elm Guest House) and Operation Fairbank (looking at political figures). A fourth, Operation Cayacos, is scrutinising the late Peter Righton, an influential social worker and convicted paedophile.

A source with knowledge of their progress told me this week that investigators currently believe Establishment paedophiles used flats at Dolphin Square as a ‘dropping-off point’ for young prostitutes.

‘Kids were brought there, and often partied there, but were sometimes also ferried to the Dorchester, or the Ritz, or addresses in central London,’ he said.

‘They were like lumps of meat in the back of a car. It [Dolphin Square] was a very convenient, and discreet, dropping-off point.’

The vast complex of 1,250 flats on a 7.5-acre plot close to the Thames was built in 1937 to provide homes for individuals its developers described as ‘notable in public life or society’.

Past tenants include the Far-Right political leader Oswald Mosley, Harold Wilson, Christine Keeler and Princess Anne, who (after moving out) allegedly claimed to be tired of ‘nosy neighbours, noisy traffic and the sight of hookers plying their trade nearby’.

By the late 1980s, it housed 51 MPs, 16 peers, 12 generals and six admirals. More recently, such noted Parliamentarians as William Hague, Alastair Darling, Malcolm Rifkind, Menzies Campbell and Mo Mowlam called it home.

Dolphin Square, just a few hundred metres along the Thames from Parliament, has always contained its own shops, restaurants and leisure facilities, but – unusually – was not gated, meaning outsiders could come and go. Some of its units could also be rented on short-term lets, making them perfect for non-residents to hold decadent parties or conduct fleeting affairs.

Intriguing in light of recent events is the fact that in 1994, a small-circulation magazine called Scallywag published a lengthy article detailing rumours that politicians had been abusing children at Dolphin Square for 20 years.

‘We often have underage boys wandering around, totally lost, asking for a particular flat,’ a source there purportedly told it.

Scallywag was, however, the very opposite of a reliable source. It had achieved notoriety in 1993 after being sued by the Prime Minister John Major for reporting entirely fictitious rumours that he’d had an affair with a Downing Street caterer.

Its coverage of Dolphin Square was also riven with factual errors. Indeed, it centred on the entirely false premise that a paedophile ring was being run there by the late former Tory treasurer Lord McAlpine.

Only one source was named for this very serious allegation: a former care home resident called Steve Messham.

In 2012, the same Mr Messham resurfaced on BBC Newsnight. He again alleged that he had been abused by a ‘senior political figure’, who was later identified on social media as Lord McAlpine, only to realise – after being shown a photograph of the Conservative peer two days later – that it was a case of mistaken identity.

The ensuing controversy saw the BBC pay £185,000 in damages, and led to the resignation of its new director-general George Entwistle.

 It is vital this new investigation is utterly rigorous – only then will Dolphin Square finally give up its secrets

All of which neatly illustrates the difficulty of separating truth from fantasy when dealing with historic sex abuse, along with the scale of

the challenge now facing investigators if they are to assemble sufficient evidence to secure any convictions.

The testimony of ‘Nick’ provides another case in point. A professional man, who has no criminal record or apparent mental health issues, he is considered a trustworthy witness.

However, there is at present no physical or documentary evidence to back up many crucial aspects of his story about the Dolphin Square sex ring (I have searched in vain, for example, for contemporary newspaper articles about a small boy being mown down on a London street in broad daylight).

Neither are the police believed to have found anyone capable of providing reliable testimony that corroborates many of ‘Nick’s’ claims.

This fact may explain why the BBC have (unlike the news website Exaro) so far held back from broadcasting some of the more explosive aspects of his story, including suggestions that he witnessed murders carried out by senior Tories.

It may also explain why the police chose so publicly to announce their murder investigation – believing, perhaps, that media coverage might be a good way to persuade other victims to come forward.

After all these years, attempting to substantiate even vague details of Labour MP John Mann’s tale is equally difficult. Only two members of the small team who worked with him at Lambeth are still believed to be alive. The location of one, Hayley Graham, is currently unknown, but this week I tracked the other, Jack Organ, to Almeira in Southern Spain.

Here, the 73-year-old retiree lives with his wife Paula Strudwick, who coincidentally is a former dominatrix who in 1997 made headlines after telling the News of the World about her lengthy affair with the Tory minister Jonathan Aitken.

Organ told me that in September he was contacted by police officers from London working on the Dolphin Square sex inquiry. However, he was unable to offer them much help.

‘I remember rumours of abuse, involving homosexuality in Lambeth children’s homes. There was talk of important people being involved. But it was hard to pin down anything specific.

‘The police were searching for hard evidence. They offered to come and see me if I had any. I just can’t remember the sort of details they are after.’

Time will tell whether other lines of inquiry yield more fruit. The tragedy, of course, is that if police had mounted a thorough investigation 30 years ago and these allegations had been tested in court, the fate of ‘Nick’ and so many other young men is likely to have been very different.

That is why it is vital this new investigation is utterly rigorous. Only then will Dolphin Square finally give up its secrets.

Additional reporting: Rebecca Camber.


Dickensgate – Guest Blog Post by @MySweetLandlord on Inconsistencies in Leon Brittan’s Accounts

[The following guest blog post was written by  @MySweetLandlord on Twitter. I am immensely grateful to him for this, which reveals very clearly many questions yet to be answered in the wake of the statements this week on the Dickens dossier by Leon Brittan.]

The 2 links below summarise the timeline of events on Wednesday July 2014 regarding various statements made regarding the ‘Dickens Dossier’.

‘Lord Brittan’s comments on 1980s Westminster ‘child sex abuse dossier”, ITV, July 2nd, 2014, updated July 6th, 2014

Tom Harper, ‘Lord Brittan issues statement on alleged Westminster paedophile ring’, The Independent, July 2nd, 2014.

On Wednesday July 2nd 2014 at 10am – Leon Brittan issues a statement through his solicitors Mischon de Reya:

During my time as Home Secretary (1983 to 1985), Geoff Dickens MP arranged to see me at the Home Office. I invariably agreed to see any MP who requested a meeting with me. As I recall, he came to my room at the Home Office with a substantial bundle of papers. As is normal practice, my Private Secretary would have been present at the meeting. I told Mr Dickens that I would ensure that the papers were looked at carefully by the Home Office and acted on as necessary. Following the meeting, I asked my officials to look carefully at the material contained in the papers provided and report back to me if they considered that any action needed to be taken by the Home Office. In addition I asked my officials to consider a referral to another Government Department, such as the Attorney General’s Department, if that was appropriate. This was the normal procedure for handling material presented to the Home Secretary. I do not recall being contacted further about these matters by Home Office officials or by Mr Dickens or by anyone else.

This statement in itself was not remarkable, although it is somewhat unusual is issue such a statement through a firm of solicitors. But the devil is in the detail, and the context is all important. For a start, although it didn’t specifically say so, this was a statement about child sex abuse, despite sounding like a dispute over a planning application.

Furthermore, Leon Brittan had been asked about paperwork supplied by Geoff Dickens before. By Martin Hickman of the Independent:

Hickman Brittan tweet

And also by Paraic O’Brien of Channel 4 News (Paraic O’Brien, ‘Leon Brittan: I was handed ‘paedophile’ dossier’, Channel 4 News, July 2nd, 2014), this was the exchange which took place:

In the email, I said: “I’m trying to find a dossier that was given to you by Geoffrey Dickens MP regarding child abuse while you were home secretary. I’ve been in contact with the Home Office but am not holding out much hope that they will be able to find it.”

I went on to ask him whether he had any recollection of the dossier. Half an hour later, Lord Brittan replied by email. He wrote: “I’m afraid I do not recollect this and do not have any records which would be of assistance, Leon Brittan.”

Now, all of a sudden,Leon Brittan recollected quite vividly. But also quite wrongly. A Home Office statement suddenly appeared, quoting from a letter sent by Leon Brittan to Geoff Dickens dated March 20th 1984. This statement was based upon the Executive Summary of a Home Office report concerning Historical records of documents it had relating to child sex abuse dated February 2013:

Dear Geoff,

You drew my attention to a number of allegations concerning paedophilia when you called here on 23 November and in subsequent letters. I am now able to tell you that, in general terms, the view of the Director of Public Prosecutions is that two of the letters you forwarded could form the basis for enquiries by the police and they are now being passed to the appropriate authorities. In other cases there either seems to be inadequate evidence to pursue prosecution, for example the lady who wrote about PIE[1. Paedophile Information Exchange] advertising but did not secure any example of the material complained of, or they have already been dealt with in some way by the courts or the police.

This flatly contradicted Leon Brittan’s assertion from his statement that he had “not been contacted further about these matters”. A second statement was promptly issued:

In the last hour I have been alerted to a Home Office independent review conducted last year into what information it received about organised child sex abuse between 1979 and 1999. A letter was sent from myself to Mr Dickens on March 20, 1984 explaining what had been done in relation to the files. The Home Office independent review is entirely consistent with the action I set out in my earlier statement. Whilst I could not recall what further action was taken 30 years ago, the information contained in this report shows that appropriate action and follow-up happened.

Although, in itself, this chain of events didn’t appear to be particularly significant, things had started to look a little muddled. So let’s return to that first statement and ponder the real significance of what Leon Brittan actually admitted did happen.

Firstly, Dickens attended the Brittan meeting with “a substantial bundle of papers”. Presumably there would be some record in the Home Office of these papers having been provided. However returning to the Executive Summary report linked above, the only information recorded at the Home Office would appear to be subsequent letters.

The evidence of the existence of such a document is compelling. Contemporary press reports yield much information. This link – Ian Pace, ‘Published Articles on Geoffrey Dickens, Leon Brittan, and the Dossier’, Desiring Progress, July 2nd, 2014 – contains all the relevant articles.


Daily Express
, November 25th, 1983

Express 251183 - Cropped


Daily Mirror
, January 19th, 1984

Mirror 190184 - MP hands over shock report on child sex

Both these press cuttings specify dossiers supplied by Dickens. But there is something else interesting about them – they are dated 2 months apart, but both refer to dossiers being handed over ‘yesterday’. Clearly there were 2 meetings between Dickens and Brittan, and therefore there were 2 dossiers, rather than 1!

Further digging yielded an article from the Daily Telegraph, November 15th, 1984:

Telegraph 151184 - Cropped

So Leon Brittan had a total of 3 meetings with Geoff Dickens, during which at least 2 dossiers were provided. Also handed over was a petition with one million signatures (Daily Express, November 25th, 1983.

Express 250883 - Dr Dickens quote on petition

As if this wasn’t enough, as reported in the Daily Express, August 25th, 1983. Dickens produced a ‘thick file’ which he handed direct to Sir Thomas Hetherington, the Director of Public Prosecutions:

Express 250883 - Cropped

On that very same day, Leon Brittan broke his holiday to express his outrage at child sex attacks, and declare he was taking a “personal interest” – Daily Star, August 24th, 1983:

Star 240883 - No Stopping Men of Evil

The following day, The Guardian reported:

Guardian 250883 - Scotland Yard sends two new reports on PIE to ministers

Two Scotland Yard dossiers had been produced, one of which was sent to the Home Office.

All the evidence therefore shows that Geoff Dickens had 3 meetings with Leon Brittan and provided him with 2 dossiers and a huge petition. He also handed another dossier to the DPP naming 8 big names including a ‘personal friend of his’ and a ‘television presenter’. Scotland Yard produced 2 files of their own, 1 of which also went to Leon Brittan, the other of which went to the DPP. Leon Brittan’s first statement admitted to Dickens providing ‘a substantial bundle of papers’, which is consistent with at least 1 of these dossiers.

But whatever became of these dossiers? But the Home Office Investigation of February 2013 had failed to find any record of these dossiers, let alone the dossiers themselves. Since that investigation, Home Office Permanent Secretary Mark Sedwill has clarified, in a letter to Keith Vaz MP dated July 5th 2014, that “The investigation did not find a single dossier from Mr Dickens” (see Sedwill to Vaz, July 5th, 2014, reproduced on Tom Watson’s site).

This time there was some detail of what records had been kept:

The review identified 527 relevant files which had been retained. These 527 physical files were all physically examined. In addition the same extensive analysis identified 114 potentially relevant files had been presumed destroyed, missing or not found.

What this statement doesn’t clarify is whether there is any record of what these 114 files were, and whether any of them originated from Geoff Dickens. What it does clarify is that 18% of relevant files were recorded but not physically present.

It also confirmed that Leon Brittan, who was outraged and taking a personal interest in child sex abuse, had managed to write just the 1 letter to Geoff Dickens, detailing the small amount of information he had forwarded to the DPP.

Under these circumstances we need to return to what Leon Brittan actually admitted did happen during his meeting with Geoff Dickens on November 23rd 1983.

As is normal practice, my Private Secretary would have been present at the meeting.

So there was a witness to exactly what happened. Leon Brittan had 3 private secretaries at the Home Office (see Dod’s Parliamentary Companion, 1984):

Dod's Parliamentary Companion

Here is Sir Hugh Taylor’s profile at Debrett’s; here is Nigel Pantling’s profile; whilst this article references Michael Gillespie.

These 3 civil servants are all very much still alive and active in professional life, and Leon Brittan has put them in an awkward position. If none of them admit to being at the relevant Dickens meeting they contradict Leon Brittan. If 1 of them admits to being present but denies the production of a dossier they also contradict Leon Brittan. If 1 of them admits to being present and also admits the production of a dossier it raises serious questions for the Home Office to answer, in addition to those concerning the rest of the dossiers reported to have been logged with the Home Office at various times.

The ‘Dickens Dossier’ itself is only part of the jigsaw. The wider issue is that Geoff Dickens and Leon Brittan had a great deal of personal contact over the issue of child sex abuse in high places 1983-84, and it is impossible to believe that names weren’t mentioned. Geoff Dickens was a personal friend of Cyril Smith, who was MP for the neighbouring constituency of Rochdale. Leon Brittan himself had been to Rochdale to help Cyril Smith with fundraising (from Simon Danczuk, ‘A promiscuous mother and the childhood taunts that turned Cyril Smith into a twisted predator’, Daily Mail, April 17th, 2014);

Smith piece from Mail

If one of those names was Cyril Smith it would surely have caught Leon Brittan’s attention, and perhaps his child sex abuse could have been curtailed nearly 30 years before he died. If another was Jimmy Savile, the same applies.

However the ‘Dickens Dossier’ has become the focus of press and public attention, and some further explanation is required as to what became of it. Hopefully the ex Home Office civil servants named above will be more forthcoming than Sir Brian Cubbon (see ‘Former mandarin has “no recollection” of paedophile dossier’, Channel 4 News, July 3rd, 2014). He was the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office 1979-1988, but has “no recollection at all” of this dossier.

As stated above, Leon Brittan’s Parliamentary Private Secretary was Tim Smith MP. He also has no memory of the ‘Dickens Dossier’.

Bobby Friedman tweet on Tim Smith

The final name stated above was Douglas Hurd MP, Minister of State at the Home Office 1983-84 and himself Home Secretary 1985-1989. He has yet to comment, but his memoirs (as quoted at Ian Pace, ‘Douglas Hurd on Leon Brittan at the Home Office’, Desiring Progress, July 5th, 2014)
state the following:

Leon’s style was centralising in the sense that he liked to know everything and took the main decisions himself.


On the Eve of Possible Major Revelations – and a Reply to Eric Joyce

At the time of writing this (evening on Monday June 30th, 2014), it is the day before an important event in the House of Commons. Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk, co-author (with Matt Baker) of Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith (London: Biteback, 2014), is due (at 4:15 pm on Tuesday July 1st) to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee. Whilst the ostensible subject of this meeting is to do specifically with historical child abuse in Rochdale (Cyril Smith’s old constituency, now Danczuk’s), Danczuk has also written of how Smith was connected to the sinister figure of Peter Righton and a wider paedophile ring including prominent politicians (see this article by Watson in praise of Danczuk). In particular, this ring is thought to have frequented the notorious Elm Guest House in Barnes, South-West London, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and one name in particular of a very senior former cabinet minister from the Thatcher era (a name which I do not intend to share here) has been widely circulated around social media and the internet. This ex-minister has also been linked to a separate story concerning the rape of a woman known just as ‘Jane’ in 1967, but the police apparently have dropped any plans to prosecute (or even arrest or interview) the minister.

Back in April, Danczuk indicated to the Daily Mail that he might use Parliamentary Privilege to name the MP in question; in an interview given to The Independent a little over a week ago, he affirmed his intention to do so if asked, and may also name a further Labour politician involved in a separate abuse scandal (this is likely to be the former Blair-era cabinet minister alleged to have abused boys in a children’s home in Lambeth, run by paedophile Michael John Carroll, in which case experienced detective Clive Driscoll was taken off the case as he allegedly came to investigate the minister.

The Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) has eleven members; five Conservatives (Nicola Blackwood, James Clappison, Michael Ellis, Lorraine Fullbrook and Mark Reckless), one Liberal Democrat (Julian Huppert) and five Labour (Chair Keith Vaz, Ian Austin, Paul Flynn, Yasmin Qureshi and David Winnick). Vaz has a particular connection as he was Solicitor for Richmond Council, and a parliamentary candidate for Richmond & Barnes around the time when the alleged events at Elm Guest House occurred (see the account of his career with primary sources, ‘Keith Vaz and the Mystery of Barnes Common’ at Spotlight). Three members of the HASC – Huppert, Flynn and Qureshi – have declared their support for a national inquiry into organised abuse; one member of the HASC has confirmed that Danczuk will be asked about visitors to Elm Guest House (Leftly, ‘MP will name politician ‘involved in child abuse”). This will be an important occasion at the HASC which may change the whole climate of opinion concerning abuse and the urgent need for an inquiry.

Yet at the eleventh hour, the Exaro news website, who have attempted to claim control and credit for all matters relating to the call for an inquiry (with the help of a few people never described more specifically than ‘Exaro’s twitter followers’), are calling upon Danczuk not to name the minister(s) in question, as well as claiming on Twitter that they have now got some special information which changes things (which of course they are not prepared to share). I will return to this in a moment.

First I want to respond to a blog post by Eric Joyce, MP for Falkirk . In response to a lobbying campaign of MPs to support a national inquiry into organised abuse, started by seven MPs (Conservative Zac Goldsmith and Tim Loughton, Liberal Democrat John Hemming and Tessa Munt, Labour Tom Watson and Danczuk, and Green Caroline Lucas), which was indeed reported by David Hencke for Exaro (David Hencke, MPs call on Teresa May to set up inquiry into child sex abuse’), a relatively organic campaign was started around the same time (beginning with a draft letter from earlier by another campaigner on another forum) which came to be initially about encouraging all those who agree to write to their own MPs and ask them to join the original seven. Some took the decision instead to send Tweets to all MPs on Twitter, which has certainly led to positive responses from some. In most cases, it is likely that a combination of the reminders on Twitter, together with letters sent to all MPs from Tim Loughton, information about the campaign e-mailed by various of us to MPs requesting it, and private discussions between MPs (not least between Tory MPs and Loughton, and Labour MPs and Watson) has led many to support the campaign, which some have announced on Twitter; at the time of writing the number stands at 123, though there has been only minimal coverage in the mainstream media, even in the wake of the latest Savile reports (such as this article by Robert Mendick and Eileen Fairweather in the Telegraph). Mark Watts, Editor-in-Chief at Exaro, who tweets as @exaronews as well as under his personal handle, has certainly been urging people to simply keep asking MPs Yes or No. Sometimes the Twitter campaign has got rather hysterical, with tweets which appear to scream at both politicians and journalists, sometimes accusing them of being supporters of child rape if they don’t reply, or don’t support this precise campaign. This mode of argument allows for no discussion, no reasonable and intelligent debate about the exact nature, remit and purpose of an inquiry, nothing more than screaming emotional blackmail, and serves no good purpose other than to try and bully politicians into agreeing. It is certainly not something with which I want to be associated, and shows Twitter at its worst. But this is what appears to have provoked Eric Joyce’s blog post.

Joyce’s primary objections to the demands of the original seven campaigners can be summarised as follows:

(a) they would undermine the Crown Prosecution Service’s consideration of an important police report presently before it (he does not make clear exactly which report this refers to).
(b) the campaign does not mention Savile of the issues implied by this case, and would thus miss these.
(c) it is focused entirely on historical rumours about ‘senior politicians’.
(d) it would exclude adult victims of Savile.

Then he also lays out wider objections to the actions of other campaigners (i.e. beyond the original seven MPs):

(i) they routinely use abusive bullying tactics, which are hardly persuasive.
(ii) it all has a ‘really sickening “get the pedos/cops/politicians” feel about it’ and ‘looks like a campaign designed to catch public attention for its own sake rather than a genuine effort to get at important truths’.
(iii) names of politicians have routinely been published online, which could wreck the lives of innocent people and destroy the case put by the police to the CPS.
(iv) the whole campaign is really a self-aggrandising exercise by Exaro, who have recently found that they cannot pay their one way, and have become a ‘schlock merchant’ who only really have one story, cynically waiting until the names of alleged ‘politician paedophiles’ were all over the internet before asking campaigners not to post or tweet them.
(v) there is some confusion between calls for other types of wide inquiry and this specific one, differences between which are papered over by Exaro.

I cannot deny that (i) is true of some campaigners, though this is definitely not a style I want anything to do with – nor with campaigners associated with the BNP, those who are homophobes, man-haters, paranoid conspiracy theorists, unconcerned about the difference between truth and fiction, and so on. One reason for becoming involved in abuse campaigning (over and above knowing a good deal of survivors sometimes very close to me, and becoming convinced that this was an issue bigger than simply individual perpetrators, in classical music and elsewhere), was the hope that it might be possible to avoid and go beyond tabloid-style hysteria over this inevitably highly emotive subject. As far as I am concerned, though, those who support vigilante action, capital punishment or other forms of cruel and unusual punishment, are no better than abusers themselves. However, the medium of Twitter, allowing only for 140 characters per tweet, can hardly do justice to this nuanced and complex subject, nor do I imagine (whatever some might think) that many MPs’ minds were changed purely by receiving a tweet from someone using a pseudonym; rather used this prompt to announce something they had already decided. I disdain (ii) for the same reasons, but realise that only by identifying prominent names is it likely that the whole campaign will gain wider attention with a public otherwise seeing celebrity names such as Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris, Max Clifford and others. As things stand the campaign can resemble a cult, with various people frequenting small sub-sections of social media and Exaro, but unfortunately sometimes not realising how invisible this is to much of the wider public. Social media are certainly not the place to name names (coming to (iii)), but in light of the fact of many claims of failure of police to interview prominent figures, intelligence services sitting in on interviews, witnesses being threatened, important evidence going missing (including dossiers going to the Home Office), I do believe some more decisive action is needed now (more to follow on this in a moment).

I will come back to (iv) but will address (a)-(d) first. Objection (a) is unclearly specified and so cannot be responded to properly. There is no reason why the inquiry could not also look at Savile, certainly (there is plenty of reason to think there may be connections between his activities and those in other abuse scandals, not least his connections to senior politicians). And just because of the areas specified as requested to be included in the original letter from the seven MPs to Teresa May (which I have also posted below Joyce’s blog), such an inquiry could certainly be extended further. Re (c), The demands go well beyond historical cases involving politicians, dealing with a range of children’s homes, businessmen trafficking between countries, churches, public schools, and much more, so this criticism is wholly unfounded. The issue of adult victims is a serious one (also a big issue in the classical music world, abuse of all types in which is a particular area on which I have campaigned extensively), but I cannot believe an inquiry could not be adapted around this as well. I doubt many supporters have an absolutely clear idea of exactly the form the inquiry would take; rather it is the principle that this type of inquiry should happen which is being supported.

Returning to (iv); I do not really want to write too much about Exaro, as I certainly think some of their journalists – most notably David Hencke – do excellent work (see also Hencke’s blog), and do not share anything like as negative a view as does Joyce. I do have problems with the way in which Mark Watts, however, has attempted in a territorial fashion to claim complete control of the campaign as purely an Exaro initiative sustained through ‘Exaro’s twitter followers’, showing zero interest in a wider campaign involving e-mailing and constituents contacting their MPs (less ‘rapid-fire’ than anonymous tweets), whilst jealously guarding information for himself and trying to shore up a fledgling organisation, and tweeting with a rather boorish swagger which has unfortunate associations. Most posts or tweets by Watts try to steer the serious issues of organised abuse and urgent need for investigation into being self-promotion for Exaro, in a territorial manner which has perhaps dissuaded other media from taking an interest (most other journalists and broadcasters I have contacted have felt the story is not yet big enough to cover). When I first started being involved in abuse campaigning last year I was warned (not least by some senior journalists who I consulted) about two things in particular: (a) how some journalists will try and get you to do their work for them for free; and (b) how many people greatly exaggerate the importance of social media. Of both of these I am definitely convinced, but have known excellent journalists (including Hencke) with whom to work on stories and share information under fair conditions of confidence.

Sadly, with these lessons in mind, I do have reason for scepticism about Exaro on several fronts, which I would not bring up were it not for their eleventh-hour intervention. The Twitter campaign seems a typical example of their getting others to do their work for them (posing as campaigners rather than journalists) for free. Through the course of the last 18 months Exaro have promised major new developments, arrests, and built up to each new report in an extremely dramatic way. There have certainly been some important reports, for sure, not least those on ‘Jane’ (though this story does have its doubters) and also Mark Conrad’s earlier reports on links between Operations Fairbank and Fernbridge and the killings of Sydney Cooke, though much less coverage (or links to coverage by others) of issues involving Peter Righton and numerous networks involved in children’s homes, not to mention churches, schools and elsewhere, stories which are generally less spectacular. The sort of investigative journalism which grapples with the complexities of these other fields is done more successfully by a variety of other journalists at The Times (Andrew Norfolk’s work on Caldicott, Colet Court, St Paul’s and many other public schools, and Sean O’Neill on Robert Waddington and Manchester Cathedral), The Independent (Paul Gallagher on abuse in music schools and colleges), The Guardian (Helen Pidd’s important set of articles on Chetham’s and the RNCM), and sometimes at the Mail (Martin Beckford on PIE and their Labour links, and many earlier articles published here and in the Standard and Telegraph by Eileen Fairweather), Express (the latest work by Tim Tate and Ted Jeory on PIE and the Home Office), Mirror (Tom Pettifor on abuse in Lambeth and the Labour connection) and People (Keir Mudie and Nick Dorman on Operation Fernbridge and associated investigations, sometimes working together with Exaro). Exaro have certainly provided an important service, as one of various news organisations.

But now I fear that territorial attitudes could play a part in sabotaging an important opportunity. Watts has published a piece today aimed at dissuading Danczuk from naming, in which in a rather grandiose fashion he reports how ‘We have strongly advised him against naming the ex-minister tomorrow, and we are grateful that he has listened to us closely and is considering our points carefully’ and the same time as (almost comically) disparaging ‘Journalists on national newspapers, desperate for a splash story’, who allegedly have been arguing otherwise. Watts argues that ‘David Cameron is under intense pressure to agree to an overarching inquiry into child sex abuse in the UK’ which he doesn’t want. How big this pressure is is debatable; Cameron could brush off a question from Duncan Hames at Prime Minister’s Questions quite easily (see the bottom of here for the exchange), and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt did not seem particularly flustered at the debate in the Commons last week. The majority of MPs supporting an inquiry have been Labour – 73 at the current count, compared to 23 Conservatives. Many Conservatives have been copying and pasting stock replies which say nothing. Furthermore, most of the Labour MPs have been backbenchers without so many high profile figures; despite the support of Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham (who did not necessarily commit his party to support in the Commons, though, as I argued last week – this is a response to point (v) which I identify in Joyce’s blog), there has been only occasional support from other front bench figures. A proper inquiry would need to look at such matters as abuse which went on at children’s homes controlled by Islington Council when senior Labour figure Margaret Hodge was leader, of the role of the Paedophile Information Exchange, about whom I have written amply elsewhere, which embroils current Deputy Leader Harriet Harman and frontbench spokesman Jack Dromey; as argued earlier, Ed Miliband needs to take a lead on this, but it should not be so surprising that he has not yet done so. There are rumblings about Labour figures also visiting Elm Guest House, and of course the deeply serious issue of a senior Labour figure as a suspect for abuse in Lambeth, not to mention continuing investigations into Lord Janner, whose office at the House of Lords was raided earlier this year. Certainly any such inquiry would not be likely to be easy for Labour, nor for the Liberal Democrats, with the debacle of Cyril Smith still haunting them, and further rumbling about some other senior figures.

But at present mainstream media attention is very sporadic, and certainly in my experience (amongst generally educated people well-informed on news) very little of this has yet registered with a wider public. Cameron has in the last week had to deal with the conviction (and possible further retrial) of his former press secretary Andy Coulson, the charging of his former advisor on online pornography Patrick Rock for manufacturing images of child abuse, and now his failure to avoid Jean-Claude Juncker from being voted to be the next EU Commissioner. It is hard to see how a demand primarily from a group of Labour backbenchers would be obsessing him at such a time (though the campaign should definitely continue and hopefully grow). Watts claims that Danczuk’s naming of the ex-minister (he doesn’t mention the Labour minister) would serve as a ‘diversion from the inquiry call’, as front pages would be dominated by the ex-minister’s name. I think this is nonsense; such dissemination of the allegation that an extremely senior minister could themselves have been part of a ring-fenced VIP ring would cause outrage and anger, and the pressure for a proper inquiry would be irresistible. This very evening, Watts has also been tweeting that some new information has come to light which changes everything, but characteristically they will not even hint at what this is. Major developments have been promised before by the organisation, but these have rarely materialised. It is now looking more like a petty playground fight over who has the biggest amount of secret information.

Ultimately, as mentioned before, simple lists of MPs’ names are not that newsworthy, as various major journalists have had to point out to me. Only a major catalyst such as the revelation of a major name would be likely to get more attention. What this would also change is that the story would be taken up by all the major media, to such an extent that Exaro’s contributions would cease to be so central; I do wonder if this is what Watts is trying so hard to avoid. In the end, though, wider exposure for the many stories of abuse (which would follow upon the outrage caused by revelations that this extends to the very highest levels, and other figures were protected for this reason) is more important than the prestige of one website.

If Danczuk is certain that the ex-minister (and the ex Labour minister) are guilty, and the only reasons why they have not been brought to justice is through cover-ups, destruction of evidence, intimidation of witnesses, or simply stalling for convenience’s sake, then I hope very much he will name names tomorrow. If there is doubt about this, then it would only be wise not to do so – using Parliamentary Privilege in a way which would smear an innocent person would be reprehensible. I have faith in Danczuk to do the right thing, and hope the momentum which has been achieved will not be sacrificed for the short-term interests of any media organisation. If all of this is being covered in details in newspapers and on broadcast news programmes being read/watched by many of the country’s population (in some cases with stories written for these papers by Hencke, Conrad and others), it would be all for the better, even if many of the earlier campaigners (including myself) are quickly forgotten.


House of Commons debate 26/6/14 following publication of Savile reports

[Please continue to write to your MP to ask them to support a national inquiry into organised abuse, and also please sign this petition calling for such an inquiry]

Today twenty-eight reports were released following NHS and Department of Health investigations into the activities of Jimmy Savile at a range of hospitals and other institutions. These make for grim reading, detailing victims of both sexes aged from 5 to 75, abuse reported but with no action taken, encounters taking place in a whole host of locations on and off premises, and even an unhealthy interest in the mortuary of Leeds General Infirmary by Savile, where he is claimed by some witnesses to have made rings out of glass eyes taken from bodies (see Caroline Davies, ‘Jimmy Savile’s victims were aged five to 75 at Leeds hospital, inquiry finds’, The Guardian, June 26th, 2014, for a summary, also ‘Jimmy Savile hospital reports: At a glance’, BBC News UK, June 26th, 2014).

In the House of Commons today, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP gave a long statement in response to the publication of the reports, followed by a short series of parliamentary questions; the full text, taken from Hansard, is given below. Hunt summarised the findings and apologised on behalf of the government and NHS, whilst arguing that today’s safeguarding processes make it harder for such a thing to happen again. Otherwise, he simply mentioned that the Department of Education is overseeing investigations of Savile’s activity in care settings, that there are other investigations into child sexual abuse, and that the Department will work with the NSPCC and NAPAC to ensure information is passed on.

One might recall, however, that in 2011 the very same Jeremy Hunt, then Culture Secretary, had the following to say upon the news of the death of Savile:

“Sir Jimmy Savile was one of broadcasting’s most unique and colourful characters,” said Mr Hunt.

“From Top of the Pops to making children’s dreams come true on Jim’ll Fix It, a generation of people will remember his catchphrases and sense of fun.

“But his lasting legacy will be the millions he raised for charity, tirelessly giving up his time and energy to help those causes he was passionate about.”

Some knowledge or at least strong rumours of Savile’s activities have been well-known for a long time; was Hunt really never aware of any of them in 2011?

There are lots of important points raised in this debate; here I will concentrate on those relating to wider issues to do with widespread abuse and the need for an inquiry. Five of the original seven MPs to write to the Home Secretary calling for a national inquiry into organised abuse – Conservative Tim Loughton, Liberal Democrats John Hemming and Tessa Munt, and Labour Simon Danczuk and Tom Watson – all made statements calling for an inquiry

The Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, who made clear yesterday in a letter to Tim Loughton his willingness to be added to the list of MPs supporting a national inquiry into organised abuse, stopped short of advocating this in his own statement on behalf of the Labour Party as a whole, saying instead:

That paints a picture of chaos in the Department and a complete absence of due process for a serious appointment of this kind. This is an extraordinary revelation. While there is no suggestion that any Minister knew of any sexual misconduct, it does point to the need for a further process of independent inquiry so that we all, as Ministers and former Ministers, can learn the lessons of what happened, but also so that we can draw together the threads of the multiple inquiries that are ongoing. It simply cannot be left for Savile’s victims to try to pull together the details of these investigations.

As the shadow Home Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), has said, there is now a clear case for a proper, overarching, independent review led by child protection experts into why there was such large-scale institutional failure to stop these abhorrent crimes. I would be grateful if the Secretary of State gave this proposal careful consideration.

It is not clear (perhaps intentionally) whether this refers just to all cases involving Savile or the much wider issues of all types of organised child abuse – certainly this falls short of the call in the original letter from seven MPs.

Furthermore, Hunt said the following key passage:

On the specific point about the behaviour of one Minister and what it suggested about the motivation for Savile’s approval for his job at Broadmoor, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke), who was Secretary of State at the time, has said that that behaviour would be indefensible now and that it would have been indefensible at the time. I agree with him. Everyone must be held accountable for the actions they took.

The minister in question was Edwina Currie, who was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health from September 1986 to December 1988 (when she was forced to resign over an ill-judged statement about salmonella in eggs). Currie appointed Savile to run a taskforce in charge of Broadmoor Hospital, which included temporary powers to oversee the running of the hospital after a series of industrial disputes, despite a lack of any professional qualifications (a classic piece of union-busting), and then a friend of Savile’s was given the most senior job at Broadmoor (see Robert Mendick and Laura Donnelly,’Jimmy Savile: Questions for Edwina Currie and the BBC’, Daily Telegraph , October 20th, 2012) (see also Stephen Cook, ‘Savile’s travails’, The Guardian, November 1st, 1989). The Health Secretary under which Currie worked was then Kenneth Clark. The new report details ten cases of sexual assault directly related to Broadmoor, and one allegation of indecent exposure to a minor, also of Savile being able to watch female patients stripping completely (see Bill Kirkup and Paul Marshall, ‘Jimmy Savile Investigation: Broadmoor Hospital’, Department of Health, June 2nd, 2014). It also says:

Savile met Mrs Currie, at his request, when she visited another hospital. He reported having discovered widespread false overtime claims, occupation of staff residences by people not entitled to them, and financial irregularities concerning the capital building project. He said he intended to use his knowledge of these to control the POA’s activities by threatening to expose them to the press if the union would not cooperate with him. Mrs Currie did not discourage him in this, although it would have meant tolerating alleged fraud in return for union co-operation. (p. 5)

Gisela Stuart asked if Kenneth Clarke would apologise for his stewardship of the department then and also whether Hunt would look into the behaviour of Currie, but Hunt did not give any clear assent to either thing, on the grounds that the reports say that there was no evidence that Ministers or others were aware of sexual abuse. As I have blogged about elsewhere, Edwina Currie also recounted in her Diaries knowledge that former Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party and PPS to Margaret Thatcher Peter Morrison was a ‘noted pederast’ with a liking for young boys, that this was known by other senior figures in the party, and even that a constituency agent was offered money to keep quiet about it. A statement on this and on Savile is now needed urgently from Currie.

Furthermore, John Hemming referred to the case of Leah McGrath Goodman, an American journalist who was investigating abuse at Haut de la Garenne, Jersey (see the range of articles at Spotlight and in particular Josh Halliday, Katharine Viner and Lisa O’Carroll, ‘Jimmy Savile linked with Haut de la Garenne children’s home scandal’, The Guardian, October 9th, 2012), who was banned from entering the UK, and arrested back on June 5th when coming to give evidence to an inquiry. Hunt simply said that he was unaware of this and would look into it. More on McGrath Goodman’s work can be read on her website, in particular her story commissioned by The Guardian after being banned from entry. See also Hemmings’ Early Day Motion (EDM) from September 11th, 2012 objecting to the banning of McGrath Goodman and a further EDM from July 2nd, 2013, after McGrath Goodman was re-allowed entry.

Tessa Munt drew most direct attention to the call for an inquiry (mentioning the 104 further MPs who had joined the original 7 – now 105 thanks to the addition of Chi Onwurah, who also mentioned the need for an inquiry and has since indicated her willingness to be added to the list), and in particular loss of vital evidence, and cases being stalled or abandoned. Hunt’s response just referred to a Home Office committee chaired by Norman Baker (who lent just 10 minutes of his time to seasoned abuse researchers and campaigners Peter McKelvie and Liz Davies recently). Other supporters of an inquiry who spoke in the debate included Conservative Bob Blackman, Labour’s Diana Johnson, Barbara Keeley and Grahame Morris and Democratic Unionist Ian Paisley Jr.

Simon Danczuk first raised the question of Savile’s wider political connections, not least with Cyril Smith, and pointed out that Savile appeared in a Liberal Party Political Broadcast. Smith himself, in his autobiography, refers to meeting Savile at a medieval banquet at Worsley, Lancashire, after which he was invited by Savile to sing ‘She’s a Lassie from Lancashire’ on his programme Clunk-Click, and also a comedy routine with Les Dawson; Smith admired the model of Savile as a ‘personality’, but wrote that Savile ‘admits openly that his work as a disc jockey is a joke, but his record of public service and charity must be unequalled’ (Big Cyril: The Autobiography of Cyril Smith (London: W.H. Allen, 1977), pp. 225-226; see also Danczuk and Matthew Baker, Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith (London: Biteback Publishing, 2014), pp. 100-104, on Smith’s cultivation of Savile and other comedians and TV personalities). Danczuk said that an ‘overarching inquiry’ would enable one to ‘understand the political networks to which Savile belonged’. Hunt’s answer essentially side-steps this question.

Tom Watson followed up on this issue asking if Hunt had any suspicion that ‘victims of Savile were frightened to come forward because he enjoyed powerful political protection?’ Hunt side-stepped this again, saying there was no evidence of that in the reports, and suggesting that victims of Savile were simply afraid to come forward because of his ‘celebrity status’ and consequent ‘connections in high place’ (not quite the same thing as Danczuk or Watson are asking).

In an interview from last weekend, Danczuk made clear that when he appears before the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) on Tuesday July 1st, he will if asked be prepared to use Parliamentary Privilege to name a further living parliamentarian who visited Elm Guest House at Barnes, where boys are claimed to have been abused by a paedophile ring (Mark Leftly, ‘MP will name politician ‘involved in child abuse”, The Independent, June 22nd, 2014), and may also name a further politician involved in a separate abuse scandal (this is likely to be the former Blair-era cabinet minister alleged to have abused boys in a children’s home in Lambeth, run by paedophile Michael John Carroll, in which case experienced detective Clive Driscoll was taken off the case as he allegedly came to investigate the minister, as investigated in Tom Pettifor, ‘Pressure mounts on Tony Blair to answer questions over minister child sex abuse cover-up claims’, Daily Mirror, April 29th, 2014). Three members of the HASC – Liberal Democrat Julian Huppert, and Labour MPs Paul Flynn and Yasmin Qureshi – are supporters of a national inquiry; one member of the HASC has confirmed that Danczuk will be asked about visitors to Elm Guest House (Leftly, ‘MP will name politician ‘involved in child abuse”). This will be an important occasion at the HASC which may change the whole climate of opinion concerning abuse and the urgent need for an inquiry.


NHS Investigations (Jimmy Savile)

11.25 am

The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Jeremy Hunt):
With your permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the Jimmy Savile investigations.

This morning, 28 investigations into Savile were published, including two larger reports on Leeds infirmary and Broadmoor hospital and 26 smaller reports on other institutions. I know that this House and, indeed, the whole country will share a deep sense of revulsion at what they reveal: a litany of disturbing accounts of rape and sexual abuse committed by Savile on vulnerable children and adults over a period of decades.

At the time, the victims who spoke up were not believed, and it is important today that we all publicly recognise the truth of what they have said, but it is a profoundly uncomfortable truth. As a nation at that time, we held Savile in our affection as a somewhat eccentric national treasure with a strong commitment to charitable causes. Today’s reports show that, in reality, he was a sickening and prolific sexual abuser who repeatedly exploited the trust of a nation for his own vile purposes.

The report published by Leeds infirmary today reveals that Savile was a predatory porter who abused and raped patients without scruple. Sixty people reported abuse to the investigation. One of his teenage victims believed that she was pregnant as a result of his abuse. Two witnesses told the investigation Savile claimed to have had jewellery made from glass eyes taken from bodies in the mortuary. Other reported behaviour is too horrific to recount in detail to this House, but is set out in full in the reports published today.

Savile was also an opportunistic sexual predator at Broadmoor. The investigation concludes that at least five individuals, and possibly more, were sexually abused by Savile. Inexplicably, Savile was allowed to watch female patients as they stripped naked for bathing.

There were fewer incidents reported in the other 26 investigations, but there are strong indications that they were consistent with a wider pattern of offending. I have placed the reports of all the investigations in the House of Commons Library. Five investigations are ongoing and will report later this year.

Today’s reports will shake this House and our country to the core. Savile was a callous, opportunistic, wicked predator who abused and raped individuals, many of them patients and young people, who expected and had a right to expect to be safe. His actions span five decades, from the 1960s to 2010. The family favourite loved by millions courted popularity and used it to perpetrate and cover up his own evil acts.

I and, I am sure, the whole House will want to pay tribute to all the victims who came forward to talk about their experiences. It took great courage for them to relive their often extremely distressing and disturbing experiences.

The reports paint a terrible picture, as time and again victims were ignored or, if they were not, little or no action was taken. The systems in place to protect people were either too weak or were ignored. People and institutions turned a blind eye.

Today, I want to apologise on behalf of the Government and the NHS to all the victims who were abused by Savile in NHS-run institutions. We let them down badly and however long ago it may have been, many of them are still reliving the pain they went through. If we cannot undo the past, I hope that honesty and transparency about what happened can at least alleviate some of the suffering. It is the least we owe them.

Today, changes to the way that we guard against abuse would make it much harder for someone such as Savile to perpetrate these crimes for so long. The safeguarding system, as the Leeds report makes clear, has been much improved over the past 30 years. The landmark Children Act 1989 enshrined a child’s right to protection from abuse. The first child sex offenders register was established in 1997, and 1999 saw legislation to prevent sex offenders from working with children. Criminal Records Bureau checks and the Disclosure and Barring Service have provided further protection. The Children Act 2004 requires NHS bodies to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, and to sit on the local safeguarding children board. NHS England published its safeguarding framework in 2013.

Savile was, however, never convicted of any offence, so this safeguarding system depends on much better awareness by professionals and the public and a much heightened vigilance against such abuse than there was in the past. Although that is reassuring to an extent, we cannot be complacent. Today, I am writing to all the system leaders in the NHS—NHS England, the NHS Trust Development Authority, Monitor and the Care Quality Commission—to ask them to ensure that they and all trusts review safeguarding arrangements in the light of the reports, and to ensure that they are confident about patient safety. For its part, the Department of Health has accepted all the specific recommendations assigned to it in the Broadmoor report.

There are some painfully obvious lessons for the system as a whole. First, we must never give people the kind of access that Savile enjoyed to wards and patients without proper checks, whoever that person may be. Secondly, if people are abusive, staff should feel supported to challenge them, whoever that person may be, and take swift action. Thirdly, where patients report abuse, they need to be listened to, whatever their age, whatever their condition, and there needs to be proper investigation of what they report. It is deeply shocking that so few people felt that they could speak up and even more shocking that no one listened to those who did speak up. That is now changing in the NHS, but we have a long way to go.

In ensuring appropriate measures, we must not hinder the extraordinary contribution of thousands of volunteers and fundraisers working in the NHS every day. They are the opposite of Savile and we need to ensure that their remarkable contribution is sustained.

In parallel with this NHS work, the Department for Education is overseeing investigations into Savile’s activity in care settings, based on the same tranche of information that led to the smaller NHS investigations. There are other ongoing investigations by the police into allegations of historic child sexual exploitation. I hope this reassures the House of the seriousness of this issue and our response to it. The Department will also work with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the National Association for People Abused in Childhood to ensure that information is swiftly passed on.

I conclude by paying tribute to Kate Lampard and her team. When patient safety is the issue, speed is vital. These investigations have swiftly and effectively brought to light vital issues that must be addressed. She will be publishing her conclusions and recommendations on this scandal later this year, as will the national group on sexual violence against children and vulnerable people. This report will bring together the Government’s wider work to eradicate violence against children and vulnerable people.

But today, above all, we should remember the victims of Savile. They were brave. They have been vindicated. He was a coward. He has been disgraced. The system failed to prevent him from abusing. It failed to act when people spoke up. We must not allow history to repeat itself. I commend this statement to the House.

11.34 am

Andy Burnham (Leigh) (Lab):
I thank the Secretary of State for notice and sight of his statement. I commend him for the way he introduced it to the House and welcome everything he said. The reports published today are truly disturbing, and as sickening as any ever presented to the House. How a celebrity DJ and predatory sex offender came to have unfettered access to vulnerable patients across the NHS, and gold-plated keys to its highest security hospital, surely ranks as one of the worst failures of patient and public protection our country has ever seen. It raises questions of the most profound kind about how victims of abuse are treated, how systems for protecting vulnerable children and adults work and the nature of celebrity and society’s relationship with it.

The Secretary of State was right to begin with an apology—I support him in making it—to the hundreds of people who were appallingly failed and whose lives have been haunted ever since. Our first thought must be with them today. They had a right to look to the NHS as a place of safety and sanctuary, but they were cruelly let down by the very institutions that were meant to offer protection. As one of Savile’s victims put it:

“It was like another insult. I’m in a top security hospital and someone has got to me again. When does it stop?”

Today’s statement will have evoked memories of the most painful kind for them, so will the Secretary of State ensure that all Savile’s victims have full and direct access to all the counselling and other support they will need?

One of the main purposes of this process of inquiry should have been to give all the victims the opportunity to be heard, but the Secretary of State might know that there are reports today in the Yorkshire Post that one person who tried to come forward was at first ignored in October 2012. Will he assure us that all reasonable steps have been taken by those preparing these reports to help victims come forward and tell their story, including those who might have been ignored when they first tried?

Many of Savile’s victims have suffered severe financial loss as a result of the challenges they have faced. I understand that claims for compensation will in the first instance draw on Jimmy Savile’s estate. Has there been an assessment of whether the estate’s funds will be sufficient to meet all claims? Given what has been revealed today and the abject failures of public bodies, should not the Government now consider allocating public funds to ensure that all the people damaged by Savile are properly compensated and supported?

Reading the report, it is not at all clear to me that a proper process has yet been put in place to hold people who failed in their public duties to account. If evidence is revealed in any of these reports that shows that any person still working in the NHS or the Department of Health knowingly facilitated these crimes, will the Secretary of State assure us that they will now face the full weight of the law and that those who were negligent in respect of their public duties will also be held fully to account?

It is incomprehensible how this could have been allowed to happen over 55 years. Although it relates to a different era, there are serious lessons that we can learn, given that abuse continues in our health and care system today. Let me turn to those. The first area of concern relates to how victims of abuse are treated, particularly young people or people in the mental health care system. Sadly, there are still far too many instances of abuse in our care system and in mental health settings, and the real figure is likely to be higher because of under-reporting. Will the Secretary of State consider what more needs to be done to give people the confidence to come forward and the reassurance that they will be listened to? Is there a case for more training for staff in dealing with allegations of abuse?

The second area of concern relates to how public bodies carry out vetting and barring arrangements, make public appointments and manage their relationship with celebrity. Hospitals across the country have increasingly sophisticated fundraising operations and links with celebrity endorsers. Will the Secretary of State accept the Broadmoor report’s recommendation that no celebrity should be appointed to an executive position or given privileged access to a hospital or its patients and that they should be fully vetted if appointed to a non-executive position? More broadly, is there now a case for a code of conduct setting out the appropriate relationship that the NHS should have with celebrity or business backers?

On vetting and barring, figures obtained by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) show that the number of people barred from working with children as a result of committing a sexual offence against a child has dropped by 10,000, or 75%, in the past three years. These extremely worrying figures have come about as a result of changes to the vetting and barring arrangements. This raises the concern that there are people working in our health and care system now who may pose a risk to children. Will the Secretary of State look again at this issue, consult the Home Secretary, and urgently report back to the House on why these figures have dropped by so much in such a short space of time, and on whether they believe that the current child protection regime is strong enough?

The question arises of whether this process of inquiry is a sufficient response to the scale of these atrocious crimes. It is hard to draw a clear picture and consistent recommendations from 28 separate reports and all the other inquiries that are still ongoing in schools, care homes, the BBC and the police. I, too, pay tribute to the work of Kate Lampard in assuring the quality of the reports published today, and we wait for her second phase of work, but questions remain about their independence given that each hospital has, in effect, investigated itself. There is also a question of whether this needs to be more independent of Government.

The Broadmoor report raises serious questions about the conduct of civil servants and Ministers in the Department of Health in how Savile came to be appointed to the Broadmoor taskforce. In evidence to the inquiry, the then Minister describes the main objective of Savile’s appointment as follows:

“The principal question was can Government break this hold that the Prison Officers Association has on the hospital.”

She went on to say:

“This task force was dreamed up and seemed like a very good idea and step forward Jimmy Savile who knew the place backwards and was more than happy to volunteer his time to do this. And we were happy to do it.”

That paints a picture of chaos in the Department and a complete absence of due process for a serious appointment of this kind. This is an extraordinary revelation. While there is no suggestion that any Minister knew of any sexual misconduct, it does point to the need for a further process of independent inquiry so that we all, as Ministers and former Ministers, can learn the lessons of what happened, but also so that we can draw together the threads of the multiple inquiries that are ongoing. It simply cannot be left for Savile’s victims to try to pull together the details of these investigations.

As the shadow Home Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), has said, there is now a clear case for a proper, overarching, independent review led by child protection experts into why there was such large-scale institutional failure to stop these abhorrent crimes. I would be grateful if the Secretary of State gave this proposal careful consideration. I finish by assuring him of our full support in helping him to establish the full truth of why abuse on this scale was allowed to happen for so long.

Mr Hunt:
I thank the shadow Health Secretary for the constructive tone of his comments. Many of the suggestions he has made are very sensible. We will take them away and look at them, but I will go through a number of them now. First, we will indeed make sure that all Savile’s victims get the counselling they need. I think that it has been made available to them, but it is absolutely right to double-check that they are getting every bit of help they need and that we are taking all reasonable steps.

I hope that what has happened today will be, in its own way, another landmark for all victims of sexual abuse in giving them the confidence that we are changing, not just as an NHS but as a society, into being much better at listening when people come forward with these very serious allegations. It hits you time and again when you read these reports how many people did not speak up at the time because they thought that no one would believe them. We are not going to change that culture overnight, but we have to be a society that listens to the small person—the person who might get forgotten and does not feel they are important in the system.

On the claims for compensation, the right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to say that the first draw for those claims will come from the Savile estate. I hope I can reassure him, however, that, as we have said, the Government will underwrite this so that if there are any claims that are not able to be met by the estate we finance them from the public purse. We think it is important that we should do that, although his estate is the first place to start, for obvious reasons.

The right hon. Gentleman is right to say that if there is evidence that people have criminally neglected claims that were made at the time or behaved inappropriately—even if it is not a matter for the law and they behaved in a way that could make them subject to disciplinary procedures in NHS organisations—that should be addressed. We will urge all NHS organisations to look carefully at anyone who is mentioned in the reports. Of course, the police will, naturally, look at the evidence against any individuals, who of course have the right to due process, which everyone in the House would accept.

On the specific point about the behaviour of one Minister and what it suggested about the motivation for Savile’s approval for his job at Broadmoor, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke), who was Secretary of State at the time, has said that that behaviour would be indefensible now and that it would have been indefensible at the time. I agree with him. Everyone must be held accountable for the actions they took.

We are doing a great deal to make sure that all NHS staff are trained to feel more confident about speaking out. The Mid Staffs whistleblower Helene Donnelly is now working with Health Education England to see what needs to change in the training of NHS staff in order to change that culture.

On the new disclosure and barring scheme, we are already doing work to examine the reason for the drop in the number of people who are being barred from working with children. The Minister of State, Department of Health, my hon. Friend the Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) is looking into that. I have given this a lot of thought and it is important to say that in the current environment, were we to have another Savile, it is likely that the disclosure and barring scheme would bar him from working with children and in trusts, but that is not certain because he was never convicted of a crime. The Criminal Records Bureau checks would not have stopped that, but it is possible for the disclosure and barring scheme to prevent people from working with children and vulnerable adults even if they have not committed a crime. For example, their employment track record may show that they were dismissed for doing things that raised suspicions. It is also important to make the point—I think everyone in the House will understand this—that it is not possible to legislate to stop all criminal vile activity. What we depend on for the disclosure and barring scheme to work is a culture in which the public and patients feel able to speak out and staff listen when they do so, in order that these things surface much more quickly.

Finally, the question of whether any further inquiries are necessary will, of course, be considered. The first step is to let Kate Lampard do her full report. At this stage, she has not drawn together all the different inquiries and tried to draw lessons from the system as a whole. I asked her to do two things. The first was to verify independently that the reports of NHS organisations were of the necessary quality, and I think she has done that superbly. The second stage of her work is to see what lessons can be drawn from the system as a whole. We need to hear what she has to say about that and, indeed, what the Department for Education and the BBC learn from their reports, and then we will come to a conclusion about whether any further investigations are needed.

Dr Sarah Wollaston (Totnes) (Con):
May I join the Secretary of State in paying tribute to the victims? They were not silent. What today’s reports show is that very many people witnessed—even directly condoned—some deeply inappropriate behaviour. How could it ever be acceptable for a celebrity to be able to watch female patients showering? Will the Secretary of State join me in sending a message to NHS staff that they should always raise concerns if they witness such behaviour and that they will be protected if they do so?

Mr Hunt:
I am absolutely happy to do that. I wholeheartedly agree with my hon. Friend’s comments. The NHS needs to move to a system where it is the norm rather than the exception to report, and where NHS staff feel comfortable that reporting any concerns is an absolutely normal part of their job. She is right to say that one of the most disturbing things in the reports is the clear evidence that some people helped Savile in what he did—for example, that people were escorted to his private room in Broadmoor—which is very shocking. That is why it is very important that everyone is vigilant. I totally agree with what she said.

Ms Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab):
The only people who emerge with any credit are the victims, and we need to support them. However, I was slightly stung by the Secretary of State’s comment about the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke). If the right hon. and learned Gentleman thought that the actions of the Minister—it was Edwina Currie, if I remember rightly—were inappropriate then, as they would be now, will he apologise for his stewardship of the Department at the time, or will the Secretary of State look at the Minister’s conduct and come back to the House to explain how it was possible?

Mr Hunt:
I hope that I have gone some way to meet the hon. Lady’s concerns because, on behalf of the Government and the NHS, I have offered a full apology to all the victims for what happened, and I have accepted that there were failures at many levels. It is very important to say that the reports show that there was no evidence that Ministers or officials were aware of any sexual abuse by Savile. I pointed to the comments by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe because I wanted to make it clear that this Government are not defending actions which, as he has said, were indefensible then and would be indefensible now.

Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) (Con):
I commend my right hon. Friend for his measured statement. Indeed, I welcome the shadow Secretary of State’s comments about joining our call for an overarching inquiry, because this is the tip of the iceberg. There are still ongoing inquiries to do with Savile in the NHS, 11 local authorities, care homes and others.

Specifically on the subject of victims, there is something that the Secretary of State can do to help immediately. So many victims have very bravely come forward after suffering trauma over many decades and many are still calling the ChildLine and NAPAC—the National Association for People Abused in Childhood—helplines. However, for too many, the therapeutic support that they need to help them through such a particularly difficult time is absolutely not there. Police and health professionals have come to me to say that they know such people, but cannot do anything for them. With the resources in the NHS, the Secretary of State can help now.

Mr Hunt:
I commend my hon. Friend for his campaigning for vulnerable children over many years. The letter I sent to NHS England this morning asks it to make sure that all the lessons are learned from the reports, and it includes the very clear suggestion—I want the NHS to interpret my letter in this way—that it should ensure that it commissions the support needed for children in these circumstances so that they get the very support that is necessary. This is not just about encouraging people to speak out; it is about making sure that when they do, they feel listened to and supported.

Grahame M. Morris (Easington) (Lab):
I thank the Secretary of State for his statement and my right hon. Friend the shadow Secretary of State for his considered response. In relation to the scale of the abuse—with ages ranging from five to 75, and involving 28 hospitals—lessons need to be learned about the systematic failure not just within the NHS, but within other institutions. Will the Health Secretary have discussions with the Cabinet Office and others to make sure that appropriate lessons are learned?

Mr Hunt:
Absolutely. I want to reassure the hon. Gentleman that we are taking a cross-Government approach—across a range of Departments, but particularly the Department for Education and the Home Office—and that the Government as a whole will draw the lessons from this whole horrific series of episodes to make sure that we have a joined-up approach.

John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD):
I agree with the Secretary of State that our first thought has to be for the victims, and that in future we must listen to the powerless and not block inquiries. If we go back to 2011—before Savile died—an American journalist, Leah McGrath Goodman, was banned from coming to the UK to investigate child abuse, including by Jimmy Savile. Even more recently, she was arrested at the airport on 5 June, while coming to an inquiry. Will the Secretary of State speak to his colleague the Minister for Security and Immigration to ask why somebody in the UK Border Agency seems to be aiming to inhibit one of the inquiries?

Mr Hunt:
I am afraid that I do not know the details of that particular case, but I will look into it and write to the hon. Gentleman.

Ann Coffey (Stockport) (Lab):
Is not one of the wider problems our perceptions of how a sexual predator looks and acts? When men like Savile are arrested, the usual reaction is shock that such a nice man could abuse children, but sex predators are not men in dirty raincoats; they come from all walks of life and all professions. That perception means that children are not being heard. Will the Secretary of State make preventing as well as detecting child sexual abuse a public health priority? It is only through a better informed public, more aware of how predators such as Savile behave, that we will be able to protect children from abuse.

Mr Hunt:
I completely agree, and that is one of the big lessons. The shadow Home Secretary was absolutely right to say that this issue raises serious questions about the nature of celebrity in our society. One of the reasons that totally inexcusable things happened—such as being given the keys to Broadmoor—was that somehow on the basis of Savile’s image people made wrong assumptions about him. The hon. Lady is absolutely right. One of the things that will change as a result of this investigation is that people will be more willing to challenge those who previously were not challenged. But there is a long way to go.

Mr Simon Burns (Chelmsford) (Con):
I totally agree with the Secretary of State’s belief that there should be more openness, and an increased sense of need to report concerns, but is he satisfied that, particularly with regard to NHS staff who may report concerns or whistleblowers, there is enough protection within the system to encourage more people to be more open?

Mr Hunt:
No, I am not. That is why earlier this week we asked Sir Robert Francis to do a follow-up review to his public inquiry to determine what else needs to be done to create a culture of openness and transparency in the NHS. We have come a very long way as a society in terms of our understanding, but there is more work to be done. It is also very important, as I said in my statement—I know everyone would agree with this—that we do not undermine the brilliant work done by volunteers in hospitals and that we do not create a kind of bureaucratic morass that makes it impossible for that really important work to be done. However, I know we can do better than we are at the moment and important lessons need to be learned.

Valerie Vaz (Walsall South) (Lab):
The Secretary of State has been very gracious in his apology given that he was not Secretary of State at the time. Might I make one further practical suggestion? Will he speak to the Prime Minister about perhaps appointing a Minister to co-ordinate all these reports across the public institutions?

Mr Hunt:
I reassure the hon. Lady that that responsibility lies with the Home Secretary, and the Home Office has a cross-governmental committee that will bring together all the lessons from all the reports. My first priority is to ensure that we are doing everything we can to make NHS patients safe, but there are much broader lessons to be learned. That is being led by the Home Office.

David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale) (Con):
Does my right hon. Friend agree that what has happened is absolutely abhorrent and that it sends out a strong message to everyone in society that even a celebrity is not above the law of the land? May I also praise the work of Kate Lampard and her team in bringing this forward?

Mr Hunt:
That is absolutely right. Celebrities have never been above the law of the land, but what is clear from the report is that even though that is the case legally, in practical terms they were above the law because they were able to get away with things for a very long time that ordinary people would not have been able to get away with. That is why this is such a big moment of reflection for us. I know that everyone in the House will want to think hard about what we need to do to change that culture.

Simon Danczuk (Rochdale) (Lab):
We know that Savile was well regarded by many politicians; by way of example, he was friends with Cyril Smith and appeared in a Liberal party political broadcast in the 1970s, and had friends in high places. Surely an overarching inquiry into child sex abuse would help us to understand the political networks to which Savile belonged.

Mr Hunt:
I know that the hon. Gentleman has campaigned a lot on these issues. We have not ruled out anything, but we want first to draw together the lessons for the NHS and across Government as quickly as possible. One of the important benefits of the way in which we have proceeded so far is that, because it is an investigation and not a public inquiry, we can get to the truth relatively quickly. However, we will certainly look at the cross-governmental lessons.

Dr Phillip Lee (Bracknell) (Con):
As a former member of the medical staff at Stoke Mandeville hospital and now as the Member representing Broadmoor hospital, I have many questions, but let me concentrate on one. In appendix 2A part V, there is a letter about Broadmoor from Jimmy Savile to the Department of Health. It is headed “National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville”, and it is signed “Dr Jimmy Savile”. Indeed, the content of the letter is deeply unprofessional and remarkable, and it was copied on to a series of people, including the then Secretary of State. Will my right hon. Friend assure me that each of these individuals has been investigated in respect of their response to this correspondence, as I cannot believe that people could have received it without being deeply concerned about this vile man’s involvement in a high-security hospital?

Mr Hunt:
My hon. Friend raises a very important point. We received the reports only this week, but I will certainly take this away with me and look into exactly the point he makes.

Mr Frank Field (Birkenhead) (Lab):
I thank the Secretary of State for allowing me early advance notice of the report relating to St Catherine’s hospital in Birkenhead. Much more importantly, may I associate myself with the apology that the right hon. Gentleman gave to my constituent and others. He will know that that hospital has been bulldozed and that we now have a fine community hospital. To bulldoze these practices within the NHS, will the Secretary of State consider and come back to me later on these two issues? First, it took my constituent 48 years before she was believed and 50 years before she received an apology. What steps are we going to take to ensure that justice is provided much more quickly? Secondly, Jimmy Savile was escorted around St Cath’s Birkenhead by officials, who witnessed him jumping into bed with a young patient and thought it funny. All the rules in the world provide some defence, but how do we get people to exercise judgment—whatever the rules say, whatever the circumstances and whoever does it—and say that this behaviour is not acceptable?

Mr Hunt:
I would like to associate myself with the right hon. Gentleman’s comments; I share his disbelief and shock that it has taken so long. In some ways justice will never be done, because Savile died before it could be served on him, which is one of the biggest tragedies of all. I agree: there was a major lack of judgment, some of it because of the different attitudes prevailing at those times. One of the big differences today is that we make links between what is disgusting but not illegal behaviour and potential abuse in a way that did not happen in those days. I want to share with the right hon. Gentleman what most shocked me personally in the reports, and it was the way in which Savile interfered and abused people who had just come out of operations and were recovering from them. The fact that Savile was able to do that, without being supervised, is shocking and when those people spoke up about what had happened, they were not believed. That is one of so many lessons that need to be learned; I know that everyone wants to learn them.

Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North) (Con):
It is clear from the Portsmouth report that there were incidents with no corroborative evidence of the abuse. In one local case, the complainant was unconscious at the time of the alleged incident and learned of it from a hospital cleaner who witnessed it. Does my right hon. Friend agree that “no proof” is not the same as “it did not happen”, that his welcome words of apology should apply to all those who think they may have been abused and that we need a clear process for how such unprovable complaints can be dealt with?

Mr Hunt:
Absolutely right. The case that my hon. Friend mentions was a real tragedy because that person suffered very real psychological harm in subsequent years as a result of what they were told by the cleaner. There are two points. First, we cannot necessarily corroborate, but we can see a pattern. What is impressive about these investigations is the fact that the investigators say time after time that although it is not possible to prove that these things happened, they believe that they did because the evidence was credible. On one or two occasions, they say that they are not sure, but in the vast majority of cases, they thought that the evidence was credible. Secondly, there will continue to be times when offences are alleged, but it is not possible to prove them in a court of law. The big lesson to be learnt is that that does not mean no action should be taken. We must do what it takes to protect patients.

Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP):
I appreciated the right hon. Gentleman’s statement. Does he agree that the fear of litigation by NHS practitioners appears to be one of the reasons why the system does not lend itself to the provision of a good listening ear, and, indeed, one of the reasons why a compassionate response to that listening is not always forthcoming? What practical steps can be taken to ensure that, at an early stage, practitioners actually listen to complaints?

Mr Hunt:
I agree with the hon. Gentleman. I think that we need to change the balance in the NHS, so that the safest thing for people to do if they want to avoid litigation is to report concerns rather than sitting on them. That is an interesting lesson that has been learnt in other industries, such as the airline industry, and I hope that the follow-up review by Sir Robert Francis will help us to understand it better.

Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley) (Con):
I thank the Secretary of State for what he has said about the reports. In his statement, he referred to the importance of the changes that have come about over the past few years, both under this Government—and there are more to come—and under the last Government. Many of those changes have derived from advice given by specialist police forces or by teams within police forces.

The Association of Chief Police Officers runs courses, and collects expertise for the purpose of those courses. Its aim is to catch the individuals concerned, to help those who have been attacked by them and to monitor those individuals after they have been put on the sex offenders list. Does the Secretary of State think that it would be useful to ask ACPO whether it could provide any more advice for the Government to consider? I know that the Metropolitan police’s Jigsaw team is currently considering changes that would help it to monitor and control sex offenders once they have been detected and put on the list.

Mr Hunt:
My hon. Friend has made an important point. Of course we need to co-operate very closely with the police service, and the Home Secretary is doing a huge amount of work to establish what needs to be done to increase conviction rates for sexual offences. The point for the NHS to consider, however, is that the disclosure and barring scheme will only work properly if NHS organisers comply with it—as they are obliged to do—and report incidents, because that enables other NHS organisations to find out about them. I am not satisfied that the levels of compliance are as high as they should be.

Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab):
I feel that our concern for victims must lead us to ask whether the actions of Ministers, or managers in the NHS, caused the pain that they suffered. That is one of the things that we can still do. Beyond compensation, there is accountability, and there must be accountability.

I must tell the Secretary of State that I do not think it was enough for him to say that behaviour was indefensible. Colleagues of his were Ministers at the time of that behaviour, and they must be brought to book for their actions. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham): we should focus on the fact that that appointment of a disc jockey to a hospital position was not appropriate. In some respects, that individual would have carried more credibility because of his appointment, and that is why I think that accountability is important.

I also think that, in future, children and vulnerable patients must be protected from certain people who have access to wards. It is not good enough to talk about bureaucracy. Volunteers, celebrity fundraisers and business backers must be subject to checks before being given access to hospitals and to wards, and they must expect to be subject to those checks. The present arrangements must change.

Mr Hunt:
We do need more robust checks. However, I can tell the hon. Lady that I have apologised to all the victims and have said that if some of the reasons given in the reports for Jimmy Savile’s appointment to one position were as the reports claim, that was indefensible. Moreover, the Secretary of State who was in office at the time has said that it was indefensible. I think that that is accountability.

Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con):
The Secretary of State has been good enough to apologise on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government and the NHS. Given that Jimmy Savile’s celebrity status was largely due to his employment by the BBC, are we not owed a big apology by the BBC, now that the report has been published?

Mr Hunt:
My hon. Friend makes an important point. Today’s report is about the NHS and that the BBC report is ongoing, as is the report being done by the Department for Education and the work being done by other Departments. We have to wait for the BBC to make its own statement on the matter, but my priority now is for NHS patients, and the reason that I wanted to go at speed on this was to make sure that any changes we need to make now, we do so.

Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab):
The Secretary of State says, quite understandably, that we cannot undo the past, but there are several people culpable in this affair who are still drawing substantial NHS pensions. Why does he not consider docking their pensions, as a consequence for their behaviour and as a clear warning to others?

Mr Hunt:
I do not rule that out at all. If someone has behaved in a way that is in breach of either the law or the regulations that were in place at the hospital in which they worked, and there is a way to have legal redress such that things like pensions can be docked, I think that they should face the full consequences of that.

Tessa Munt (Wells) (LD):
Child sexual abuse is always abhorrent. The victims are always innocent and nobody should be above the law. At the beginning of this month, six Members and I wrote to the Home Secretary—now we are supported by a further 104 MPs—requesting an investigation by an independent panel into at least eight cases of child sexual abuse going back over 30 years, where the evidence has been lost or destroyed by the police, by Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise and by other agencies, and where the cases have therefore been stalled or abandoned altogether. To date, we have had no reply, so can I ask the Secretary of State to encourage the Home Secretary and the Education Secretary, and anyone who else who might be moved to take the matter on, to do so, and accept that such an independent investigation is essential to search out the truth and to make sure that action is taken after that?

Mr Hunt:
I would like to reassure the hon. Lady that we have a Home Office committee, chaired by the Home Office Minister from her own party—the Minister for Crime Prevention, the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker)—that is drawing together all the lessons from Savile across all Departments. It is then going to take that view as to what needs to happen next to prevent child sexual abuse, and I would like to reassure her that the Home Office and the Government as a whole have no higher priority than that.

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab):
Jimmy Savile visited the Royal Victoria infirmary in Newcastle on a number of occasions—generally, it appears, around the time of the great north run. The Newcastle hospital trust’s investigation concludes that nothing untoward happened and there was constant supervision, but it refers to an NSPCC investigation that had access to other witnesses, which suggests that unsupervised access did occur. That is obviously a matter of huge concern for everyone who put their trust in the RVI, whether as a patient or as a child. Is not my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) right? It is not up to them to try to draw what could be horrendous conclusions from these somewhat conflicting reports. Do we not need an overarching independent inquiry?

Mr Hunt:
We are having an overarching independent inquiry—that is what Kate Lampard is doing—but on whether we need to have further inquiries, we need to wait until we get the response, which we are hoping for this autumn, because at the moment, we have published individual reports, but we have not drawn any wider lessons for the NHS system-wide. One of the things that I hope will be a consequence of today is that if there are any victims who were abused at the RVI, they will use today as some encouragement to come forward. I have given instructions and I am absolutely clear as Health Secretary that I want every single one of the concerns of anyone who comes forward to be investigated thoroughly—as thoroughly as all the ones that are tragically coming to light today.

Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con):
It is astonishing that this catalogue of abuse was allowed to happen and that no action was taken at the time. I commend my right hon. Friend for his statement, both for the way he has delivered it and for the content, but can he elucidate for the House what specific changes he foresees in legislation, although legislation has moved forward, and any specific changes to procedures that now need to be taken as a result of the publication today?

Mr Hunt:
I hope my hon. Friend will forgive me if I do not try and predict what Kate Lampard’s recommendations are before she makes them, but I think the obvious question to ask is whether we have the procedures in place that ensure that someone like Savile would not be given the keys to an institution in the way that he was? I do not believe that would happen today. My understanding of the way that NHS organisations work is that it would be impossible for someone to be given the freedom of a trust in the way that he was at Broadmoor, but I do not want to take that as a fact. I want Kate Lampard to look at that, so that we can be absolutely sure that it would not happen. I think the other obvious area for her to consider is the functioning of the disclosure and barring scheme, and to make sure that it really is set up in a way that would make it more likely for us to catch someone like Savile. Again, I think it is likely that he would be caught by the DBS, but I would like Kate Lampard to look at that and give me her views.

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab):
I am not sure that I share the Secretary of State’s view about Jimmy Savile being caught by the procedures now in place through the DBS, but I want to ask him this: under changes introduced by this coalition, a regular volunteer at a children’s hospital—acting, for example, as a reading volunteer on the ward—will not require a Criminal Records Bureau check, and given the harm done by the revelations about Jimmy Savile, I am sure that will cause concern to millions of parents around this country. Does the Secretary of State share that concern, especially in the light of the NSPCC’s comments this week that the pendulum has swung too far towards the abuser by the changes that his Government have introduced?

Mr Hunt:
I do not agree with that. The CRB checks that were introduced by the last Labour Government were a very important step forward when they started in 2002 but what is also important, as I am sure Labour recognises, is that they have limitations, because they identify whether someone has a criminal record. Jimmy Savile was never convicted of a criminal offence, so CRB checks alone would not have stopped this abuse. That is why we need a broader system, which is what the disclosure and barring scheme is intended to be. It is deliberately set up as something that is risk-profiled, so the higher the risk, the higher the standard of investigation, but that is one of the things that Kate Lampard will look at and we need to listen to what she says when she gives us her final report.

John Glen (Salisbury) (Con):
I was grateful for the opportunity early this morning to look at the thorough report of Jimmy Savile’s visits to Odstock hospital. At Odstock, although it seemed that Mr Savile visited, the report concluded that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing. However, one recommendation was that the Department of Health issue national guidance on VIP policy and VIP visits. Can the Secretary of State confirm that he will look at that, so that all hospitals, including the successor to Odstock, Salisbury district hospital, can have a reliable policy in place?

Mr Hunt:
I think that is a very sensible suggestion. I want to wait until Kate Lampard gives her final report in September, so I do not want to pre-empt what she says, but certainly, one of the blindingly obvious things that jumps out at us from these reports is that too generous treatment was given to someone on the basis of that celebrity status, and we definitely need to learn lessons. As I am sure my hon. Friend would appreciate from his own constituents’ point of view, the fact that there is no evidence of abuse sadly does not mean that there was no abuse, and that is why it is really important for us to remember that there may well be many people who are not mentioned today who have been quietly suffering for many years. I hope today will give them encouragement to come forward.

Mike Kane (Wythenshawe and Sale East) (Lab):
I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of the report from Wythenshawe hospital this morning. For me, the shocking revelation that I noted was that it was an open secret among patients, as early as 1962, that this man was doing what he was doing—and I quote:

“a dirty old man up to no good”.

If there is one good thing that can come from this for the nation, it is that we implore all institutions, both governmental and in civil society, to keep their child protection, safeguarding and recruitment selection procedures up to date and under review.

Mr Hunt:
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right and touches on a matter that we have not touched on so far this morning. Recruitment is a very important area that we must get right in this process, and I wholeheartedly agree with what he said.

Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab):
Today will be an emotional day for victims and their families as the report is published. Will the Secretary of State tell the House how victims have been supported and informed about the publication, particularly today and in the run-up to today, and how they will be kept informed as subsequent actions are carried forward? In particular, what efforts have been made to inform and support those who are most vulnerable, such as those with learning difficulties or who are severely mentally unwell, perhaps as a result of the abuse they suffered many years ago?

Mr Hunt:
The hon. Lady is right to raise that issue, and the guidance that I have issued to NHS organisations today makes it clear that I want to give maximum protection not just to the victims identified in these reports, but to people going forward. That is the least we owe them.

Mr Tom Watson (West Bromwich East) (Lab):
Has the Secretary of State received intelligence, or does he have a suspicion, that victims of Savile were frightened to come forward because he enjoyed powerful political protection?

Mr Hunt:
I do not believe there is any evidence of that in the reports, but there is a lot of evidence that people felt that they would not be believed because of Savile’s celebrity status. Part of that celebrity status was his connections in high places, and that is part of the myth that we need to puncture as a result of today’s report.


British Association of Social Workers contacts its 14K members calling for them to support organised abuse inquiry

The British Association of Social Workers have sent the following e-mail out to all of their 14 000 members, calling upon them to support the campaign for a national inquiry into organised abuse of children, and to contact their MPs (they have also posted a statement from BASW Professional Officer Nushra Mansuri on their website). This is wonderful news, and hopefully will keep the pressure on after the disappointing response from Leader of the House Andrew Lansley yesterday. At the time of writing, there are at least 88 MPs supporting this campaign, but there is still a pressing need for more support from many of the remaining 562.

It is a courageous decision on the part of the BASW in light of a good deal of evidence that the social work profession itself was in earlier times infiltrated by the sinister figure of Peter Righton (see various information here, here and here, and this 1994 BBC documentary), a situation which itself needs proper investigation as part of an inquiry.


Please contact your MP and urge them to support the campaign for a national inquiry into organised abuse

Hello [….],

BASW England Children & Families reference group has been alerted to a campaign to establish a national inquiry into organised abuse. Tom Watson, Tim Loughton, John Hemming, Simon Danczuk, Tessa Munt, Caroline Lucas and Zac Goldsmith have jointly written to Theresa May asking her to set up this Inquiry. So far, the campaign has received cross party support from more than 84 MPs.

Find out more

It is deeply worrying that critical information related to allegations of child sexual abuse concerning prominent people has either been destroyed or gone missing and it is equally worrying that some investigations over the last thirty years have never been completed. This is totally unacceptable and a great injustice to the potential victims.

We are asking BASW members to tweet or email their MPs to ask them to add their voice.

Join the campaign

Ian Pace, child abuse campaigner, academic and classical musician is collating responses on his website Desiring Progress. When you receive a response please let Ian know on ian@ianpace.com so that he can add your MP to the list. News relating to the campaign is on both Exaro news website and also Spotlightonabuse.wordpress.com

Many thanks in anticipation of your support!