The Westminster sex abuse scandal we should all be talking about, but aren’t

In December of last year, Scotland Yard was handed a dossier by MPs containing the names of 22 high profile figures, including three current MPs and three members of the House of Lords, who it alleged were involved in a Westminster paedophile ring that operated in locations throughout the country in the 1970s and 80s. Labour MP John Mann, who spent months going through public reports about historic sex abuse cases, has said he expects the number of victims to come forward to total “many tens of thousands of people across the country”. The National Association for People Abused in Childhood, meanwhile, says politicians have been named by victims “again and again” on calls to a sex abuse helpline.

Police have also called a witness’s claims that the so-called ‘VIP sex abuse ring’ murdered three boys in front of him in the early 80s “credible and true”. ‘Nick’ told Exaro News how “he saw a former Conservative MP – before he left Parliament – strangle a boy to death during a sexual assault”, while a second child was killed “during a savage physical attack in front of a separate MP, a former Conservative cabinet minister”. A third boy was deliberately run over and killed in broad daylight as a “warning” to Nick, he says.

The father of an eight-year-old boy found murdered in 1981 also says he was informed by anonymous call that his child was killed by “judges and politicians” at the infamous Elm Guest House, apparently frequented by the VIP paedophile ring, while the brother of a 15-year-old boy who went missing in 1979 and whose disappearance has been linked to the Guest House was told by police he could “get hurt” for asking questions. Another witness – ‘Darren’ – has claimed a girl of 15, one of the regulars at the similarly notorious Dolphin Square apartment complex, disappeared after one VIP orgy. When asked what he thinks happened to her, Darren told Exaro News: “She’s dead.”

The Dolphin Square private apartment complex

‘Darren’ says he was driven to sex parties in the early 90s by Peter Righton, and Righton’s really where it all begins. A child care expert that advised the Home Office of the Thatcher government on changes to residential child care, we now know Righton was a paedophile and founder of the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange, a group that campaigned for the age of consent to be lowered to four when it was active from 1974 until it disbanded in 1984. A raid of Righton’s house in 1992 apparently uncovered ties to a paedophile ring made up of a powerful elite, but the detective on the case claims this was covered up, saying, “At the time there was a culture to protect the establishment”. Righton died in 2007.

Beyond Righton, Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, a Conservative MP who died in 1995, Sir Peter Morrison, a Conservative MP and Private Secretary to Margaret Thatcher who died in 1995, Sir Cyril Smith, a Liberal MP who died in 2010, Lord Greville Janner, a Labour MP now into his 80s and apparently suffering from dementia, Sir Peter Hayman, a diplomat who worked for the MI6 that died in 1992, and Ron Brown, a controversial Labour MP who died in 2007, have all been linked to the paedophile ring that operated in the 70s, 80s and early 90s. The most recent suspect to be named, however, provides perhaps the most morbid piece of the puzzle yet.

In 1984, Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens handed a dossier detailing serious allegations of a Westminster paedophile ring over to the Home Office. Dickens was ignored, and the dossier is one of 114 files relevant to historic child abuse allegations that have since disappeared from government records. The man in charge of Home Office at the time Dickens handed over his dossier was Leon Brittan. Lord Brittan died not two weeks ago, at which point allegations that he had been a predatory paedophile and part of the VIP sex abuse ring immediately surfaced.

Leon Brittan at WTO Public Forum 2010

Scandal surrounding Brittan is nothing new. In 1967, Brittan was cautioned after a 19-year-old woman accused him of raping her, while in 1984, the then-Home Secretary’s name was mentioned by the press in relation to a child sex scandal, before the papers suddenly went silent. Following his death on January 21st, it was revealed Brittan had been under investigation by the Metropolitan Police for sexually abusing young boys at St James’s Carlton Club in London, Dolphin Square and elsewhere, as well as for being witness to the murder of a boy in around 1981/82. Brittan was also photographed by police entering an underage sex den in 1986, but that investigation, Operation Orchid, was disbanded before any action was taken.

Customs also allegedly seized a video – in which Brittan appears – in 1982 depicting graphic child sex abuse, while a separate video of an ‘abuse party’ in which Brittan appears was seized in December 2013. Labour MP Tom Watson – who has been pursuing the case since being handed documents by Exaro News – was told by ‘Nick’ that Brittan, who he said was “as close to evil as a human being could get”, allegedly abused him and others dozens of times. Two other witnesses who have come forward back up his claims.

If the accusations against Brittan are found true, then it’s perhaps no great surprise that no one has been talking about it until now. Former Conservative MP Tim Fortescue, who acted as a government whip between 1970 and 1973, said the following in a 1995 documentary:

“For anyone with any sense, who was in trouble, would come to the whips and tell them the truth, and say now, I’m in a jam, can you help? It might be debt, it might be… a scandal involving small boys, or any kind of scandal in which a member seemed likely to be mixed up in, they’d come and ask if we could help and if we could, we did. And we would do everything we can because we would store up brownie points… and if I mean, that sounds a pretty, pretty nasty reason, but it’s one of the reasons because if we could get a chap out of trouble then, he will do as we ask forever more.”

Labour MP Tom Watson

The Sunday People, one of very few newspapers actually pursuing the story about abuse by high profile figures, published a special statement, so sure were they of the allegations against Brittan: “we know we may be accused by the Establishment of shredding the reputation of a distinguished public servant who can no longer defend himself. But to do otherwise would be to abdicate our duty towards the ­victims of historical sex abuse. This newspaper has spent months investigating allegations against Lord Brittan. They are many, varied and credible.”

The People’s (and its sister paper, the Daily Mirror) firm stance is something to think about, especially now friends of Brittan and even some outspoken denizens of the media have opted for a casual game of victim-blaming dressed up as respect for the deceased. Only last week, the Daily Mail’s Richard Littlejohn sarcastically wrote: “Brittan served under Mrs Thatcher. So, as far as the Left are concerned, he must be guilty”. Tom Watson responded accordingly in the Sunday Mirror: “It is not for me to judge whether the claims made against Brittan are true. It’s for the police to investigate these claims as they continue to do”.

Of course, demonising the alleged victim and blindly putting faith in the alleged abuser, rather than reserving judgement on both, is what left us with Sir Jimmy Savile: a serial child abuser, rapist and knight of the realm that got off scot free, and whose hundreds of victims had no voice until after he died in 2011. And as with Savile, some have been asking the old predictable question: why, with the Westminster paedophile suspects dead or well into old age, are these allegations only just coming to light now? Well, the fact is that they aren’t.

The Elm Guest House

Over at the blog Spotlight on Abuse, you can see for yourself that the abuse scandal – or more specifically, salacious goings-on at the Elm Guest House – was reported on for ten whole days by the media in 1982, before there was sudden, total silence. That’s because D-notices were served to newspaper editors by police, forcing them to cease reporting on the story. (Amazingly, a spokesman for the D-notice system has since said, “If Don Hale [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][who was served a D-notice whilst editor of the Bury Messenger] was ‘served’ with anything purporting to be a ‘D-notice’, it was quite obviously a fabrication”.)

This apparent attempted blocking of information extended beyond the media. Geoffrey Dickens, the MP who handed the 1984 dossier over to the Home Office, claimed his life was threatened after he named Sir Peter Hayman as a paedophile in the House of Commons in 1981; former cabinet minister and Labour MP Barbara Castle says her own files on the paedophile ring were seized in 1984 by Special Branch; and a Scotland Yard detective says he was taken off a case in 1998 – relating to abuse at children’s homes in the 1980s – and put on disciplinary because he mentioned to superiors that a network of politicians was involved. It wasn’t only those within the UK who caught wind of the scandal at the time – even the CIA and KGB had dossiers on the abusers, with names like Cyril Smith coming up time and again.

And if the press currently can’t say aloud what everyone’s thinking about this scandal, we at least have police officers still speaking about it openly today – in private, anyway. Exaro News was given access to a private forum for former and serving officers in the Metropolitan Police Service, where talk of abuse-related “cover ups” and of Special Branch “shutting down” investigations when they “got very close to parliament”, of “kids being raped by…politicians of all sorts” and “paedophile ops involving high profile politicians being stopped at the eleventh hour”, is rife. The officers on the forum confirm that a number of investigations into paedophile rings were started then abandoned over the years due to “prominent persons” being involved. “Successive governments have continued the practice” of covering it all up, say the officers.

Liberal MP Cyril Smith, a known serial sex offender, who allegedly frequented the Elm Guest House

The rot goes deeper though, it would seem. In 1990, Carole Kasir, who ran the Elm Guest House along with husband Haroon Kasir from the late 70s up until 1982, died of an apparent suicide. 12 children, all boys, gave evidence in 1982 that they had been abused at the house. It’s said “local police paved the way for the raid, but at some stage Special Branch felt the need to get involved”, and the only conviction ultimately given was against the Kasirs, of running “a disorderly house”. Years later, Carole Kasir would speak to social worker Chris Fay, who worked for the National Association of Young People in Care (NAYPIC). Kasir would show Fay “20 photographs of middle-aged men with young boys, taken at what he said were kings and queens fancy-dress parties, attended by a number of powerful and well-known people”.

The work of NAYPIC, including Chris Fay and fellow worker Mary Moss, has been influential on the way children are cared for in the UK. NAYPIC was an independent organisation set up in 1979 (purpose: “to serve the needs of children in care”), and had a positive impact on dozens of young lives in its lifetime. Professor Mike Stein, Academic Adviser to the Department of Health, has said NAYPIC had a “Major impact upon law, policy and practice”. Shortly after Carole Kasir came to Chris Fay, she was found dead – NAYPIC workers insisted she was murdered, though it was ruled as a suicide. Shortly after that, NAYPIC had its funding withdrawn by the government, in 1993.

This is the same government that also allegedly provided £70,000 in funding between 1977 and 1980 for the Paedophile Information Exchange, ostensibly so that Special Branch could use information to later “blackmail” members. Margaret Thatcher at the very least was aware of “‘bad boys’ on the team” – a file just released to the public was prepared for Thatcher in the early 80s after it emerged Sir Peter Hayman was a member of the Paedophile Information Exchange, and that he had violent sexual fantasies regarding the sexual torture of children. Thatcher decided to prevent action from being taken.

Margaret Thatcher, at a press conference in 1983

Thatcher was apparently also made aware that her aide Sir Peter Morrison attended “sex parties” with underage boys, but the then-PM still went on to make Morrison deputy chairman of the Conservative party in 1986. After Morrison died in 1995, he was also linked to the North Wales child abuse scandal, in which up to 650 children were abused over 40 years. Former British spy and convicted paedophile Geoffrey Prime was also found to be a member of the Paedophile Information Exchange, something Thatcher would deny in parliament.

Maybe there are good reasons why only a handful of newspapers are following this obviously groundbreaking story (remember, these are accusations – found “credible and true” by police – that UK MPs and cabinet ministers were raping and murdering children in the 1970s, 80s and early 90s. Compare the coverage of this to that of the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal). We know that the press in Britain is largely Conservative-friendly, and we know that this scandal by and large refers to Tory politicians working during Margaret Thatcher’s reign (of the 22 names in the new dossier given to Scotland Yard, 14 are Conservative politicians). But there’s also the fact that this may have come simply too late to garner much public interest.

However, some refuse to let word of the VIP abuse scandal die. We have MPs like Tom Watson and John Mann, as well as press agencies like Exaro News and Trinity Mirror, continuing to pursue the story. What’s more, in early 2013, Mary Moss, apparently frustrated by the inaction she’d witnessed over 24 years and mistrustful of the police coming to seize her copies of Chris Fay’s notes and evidence of the historic abuse, photographed herself with each individual piece of paper and posted every image online. We have decided not to link to those images here.

Lord Brittan, at the Geneva Ministerial Conference in 1998

Still, as Labour MP Simon Danczuk has said, “A lot of the people who need to give evidence are in advanced years and we’re running out of time.” Things were different in 1982, when stories first broke of the scandal and there was a chance of catching those responsible, of perhaps preventing further abuse. Now we’re over three decades on, and while the guilty parties that actually happen to still be alive may face a few years of jail time, the damage to the victims has been done and the abusers have had their fun. If something is done now – that’s if, because the inquiry hasn’t even gotten off the ground yet, more than 200 days after current Home Secretary Theresa May shambolically began trying to organise it – it will be done with evidence lost and memories fading. Rumours are the inquiry in its current state is about to fold.

Brittan’s death, meanwhile, could prove a significant setback. If people are successfully charged now, it remains 30 years later than they could have been. And we have to ask why. To reiterate: this isn’t a new story, but an old one that people were explicitly told to shut up about back in the 1980s. It could have all come to a conclusion then, had a string of remarkable coincidences not put a halt to any legal proceedings. There have been abuse scandals in Britain before, but here we’re talking about what increasingly looks like systemic abuse on an industrial scale, enacted by a group of people who were responsible for running the country itself.

The affair reads like fiction. You have politicians (and a couple of famous pop stars, allegedly) raping and murdering children, then using channels of power to cover up their crimes. It sounds like an absurd conspiracy theory. Except it’s not – every detail written here is merely what has been reported so far. If you needed a reason to fear your own government – beyond the corruption we’re still dealing with every day – it’s here, in the Westminster abuse scandal. Because if we didn’t know this was happening then, then what don’t we realise is happening right now? Come back in 30 years’ time, when all will be revealed.