Leon Brittan has died, he was aged 75.
You’ll find fulsome obituaries elsewhere and perhaps even praise but I want to focus on the truth, or not, of the allegations that Leon Brittan was a paedophile.
Over the last two years there have been many rumours and news stories alleging that Leon Brittan was a paedophile, though you may not have realised as he has invariably been euphemistically alluded to as “a former senior Tory cabinet minister” or something similar. There had been some concern among journalists, and even this blogger, that the continued and ubiquitous use of this term might itself have become so synonymous with Leon Brittan that its use might itself have precipitated legal action if Lord Brittan decided to take that route.
The allegations are not new they go back to the early 1980s at least, as Bernhard Ingham, former press secretary to Margaret Thatcher, has confirmed recently to Sky News, he was aware of the allegations at the time and even asked him about them at the time. I’ve also talked to journalists who investigated these rumours in the late 1980s.
Clearly now that Leon Brittan is dead, I’m free from legal constraints and I can say exactly as I wish but just because I can write what I wish, doesn’t mean that I should. Ultimately, I’m only interested in the truth and not rumours.
About 15 months ago I discussed the allegations with a source close to an investigation looking into these and other similar allegations. I asked the source directly whether he thought that Leon Brittan was a paedophile. After a pause he replied that in his view 80% of the allegations were false but that the remaining 20% of allegations left him with the view that Leon Brittan did indeed have an unhealthy sexual interest in children.
It is with this in mind that I will refrain from repeating every allegation that has been swirling around the internet over the last two years because I agree with that source, there are many allegations that are false, as an example, there has been a suggestion that the police have a video of Lord Brittan at a “sex party”. This story is untrue.
So, I’m going to lay to one side all of the stories that I believe make up the 80% of false allegations and look instead at the allegations that I believe make up the 20% of allegations that have substance, or at the least raise questions that need answering.
I’ll touch briefly on the allegation that he raped a 19 year old female student, who is referred to in the press as ‘Jane’, in 1967. My view is that this allegation is credible but it is also my belief that after such a long time, and with no evidence beyond the victim’s word against Lord Brittan’s, a successful prosecution would have been very unlikely and that if the CPS had decided to proceed it would have put a great deal of pressure on the victim ‘Jane’ with little result. But for clarity, I believe her.
The second allegation I wish to mention is the one related to Elm Guest House.
It is my belief that the Daily Mail story, extract quoted below, refers to Leon Brittan. I say this because I had heard very similar accounts from other sources before this story had been published, some close to events at the time. I just didn’t have the first hand source/sources that The Mail had and so I couldn’t publish.
I’d recommend that readers, read this story once again.
The man recalled that during the boy’s testimony at Richmond Police Station, he had spoken of an abuser whom he called ‘Uncle XXXXX’. This abuser worked ‘at the big houses’, the boy said.
As the boy talked, at least two of those officials present came to independent realisations of his testimony’s significance.
If ‘Uncle XXXXX’ had done what was alleged, this was not just a sordid suburban scandal, but one of national importance.
I should note here that the victim in that Elm Guest House story has not felt able to co-operate with the police, hence no action could realistically be taken.
Another credible allegation is that Leon Brittan was stopped by British Customs trying to enter Dover with indecent images of children in the late 1980s while he was with the European Commission. This story, below, refers to that allegation.
A senior Tory politician said to be part of a child sex ring was allegedly stopped by a customs officer with child pornography videos but got off scot-free, police have been told.
The former MP was driving back to the UK via Dover when a customs officer pulled him over because he was “acting suspiciously”. The border guard, who is now retired, has told detectives that when he searched the MP’s car he found videotapes of children “clearly under the age of 12” taking part in sex acts.
He passed the material on to his superiors, but the MP was never arrested or charged.
I am very aware that there will be many who will be disappointed that I’ve not related other allegations. As I’ve tried to make clear I want to stick only to those that I believe can be substantiated. If the victim at Elm Guest House speaks out then that allegation can be substantiated, if documentation exists, as it should, that Leon Brittan was stopped by a customs officer trying to enter the UK with indecent images, that too can be substantiated.