If you’re confused about today’s story in The Independent on Sunday concerning an ex-minister then I can understand why. I hope in a small way this short piece will help a little.
To begin with the most important part of the story is the first paragraph. The reference in the penultimate paragraph to Tom Watson’s PMQ question, in which he states, “One of its members boasts of a link to a senior aide of a former prime minister, who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad”, might mislead readers. This question concerned what would become Operation Fairbank and the person alluded to is not the ‘ex-minister’ alluded to today who is implicated in the Operation Fernbridge investigation. To complicate matters further there is at least one likely link between these two police investigations that I know of but it is better to think of these as separate investigations with different people alleged to be involved in each (for the most part) or you’re going to get very confused.
We can see from the opening paragraph of The Indie story (below) that Operation Fernbridge have submitted a file to the Crown Prosecution Service concerning an allegation of rape. I find it difficult to believe that the police would have taken this step without first having questioned the ex-minister involved. The Indie article goes on to state that “The claims are not believed to relate to the abuse of minors at the guesthouse, and the alleged victim was over the age of consent.” My own reading of that line is that it refers specifically to the allegation presented to the CPS.
A former senior cabinet minister is now the subject of a rape allegation currently being considered by the Crown Prosecution Service. Police investigating possible child abuse at the Elm Guest House in West London have submitted a file on the former minister, and the CPS is expected to come to a decision over the matter during the summer. The claims are not believed to relate to the abuse of minors at the guesthouse, and the alleged victim was over the age of consent.
Full Story The Independent on Sunday
For some context, which I hope will be helpful, below are a couple of selected extracts from a story run by Exaro News on the 16th February. The bold is my own
Met Commanders have received a secret briefing on preparations by Scotland Yard’s paedophile unit to arrest a former Conservative cabinet minister.
They were told of the plans during a highly confidential briefing on progress in two police operations examining allegations of child sex abuse against senior political figures and other VIPs…
… He [Peter Spindler] identified the ex-minister in the briefing. Exaro knows the ex-minister’s identity, but has decided against publishing it to avoid jeopardising police operations.
The senior detective said that his team was still at an early stage of its investigations, but had already gathered a good deal of evidence that the ex-minister had sexually abused boys. In addition, one woman has told detectives that the ex-minister raped her when she was a girl.
Full story Exaro News
My own view is that if this ex-minister has been questioned by the police then far from “jeopardising police operations” by naming him now, it would be in the public interest to do so and could strengthen police operations as other alleged victims might be encouraged to come forward.