Abuse Cover-Ups Suggest We Haven’t Come Very Far Since The Magna Carta


Will Black is a writer and journalist with a background in anthropology and mental health care.

His latest book, Psychopathic Cultures and Toxic Empires which will be on general release next week, examines the corrupting influence powerful psychopaths have on societies.


The Magna Carta (or ‘Great Charter’) was agreed 800 years ago. The treaty, between King John and rebel barons, gave the barons protection from the King abusing his power and meant the Monarch was an equal under law. No more would someone be above the law just because of a fortunate birth. That was the idea anyway. It didn’t stem from John coming over with a sudden case of ethics, but a desperate move by a beleaguered and unpopular King.

Seen in context, the Magna Carta was a pragmatic but ultimately unsuccessful attempt by a failing ruler to appease angry noblemen and avert a civil war. In actuality, neither side stuck to the deal and John died of dysentery in the field the next year, after civil war had broken out.

Nevertheless, it is regarded, in the UK and other countries, as a pivotal step towards democracy. Principles of the treaty have echoes in the American Bill of Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.

People on different positions of the political spectrum raise concerns about various written constitutions and treaties designed to unite diverse populations. Ukippers and other Eurosceptics talk with fear and loathing about the ‘United States of Europe’. Those who would like more gun control in the US make the point that a 1791 document giving citizens the right to bear arms made more sense when arms were muskets rather than semi-automatic assault rifles capable of killing a classroom full of children in moments.

My key concern today, however, having been thinking about the Magna Carta and the current state of British politics, is that our progress in the last 800 years has been disappointing. The idea was to move from a position where the Monarch is above the law, but we have merely moved to a system where certain powerful people are also above the law. For this to happen, a number of systems and individuals have to actively perpetuate it.

Not only have some turned a blind eye to ‘VIP’ crime, but there are strong suggestions that powerful people sometimes use information about other powerful people committing crimes to manipulate them. Government whips are disciplinarians of political parties and their job is to ensure MPs vote the way the party wants. In recent decades ‘dirt books’ were kept on MPs by whips and, should the need arise to exert leverage on their voting decisions, the threat was there to expose things about the individual. In reality, overt threats would be a last resort, as most parliamentarians with secrets to protect from the public would keep in check.

Interviewed in 1995, Tim Fortescue, a whip in Ted Heath’s government between 1970 and 1973, candidly explained that serious crimes were covered up by the whips, in order to gain control over MPs. He stated: “Anyone with any sense, who was in trouble, would come to the whips and tell them the truth, and say ‘now listen, 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…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.”

With each new allegation of parliamentarian involvement in child abuse – and even murder – those words seem more and more outrageous. The recent death of former home secretary Leon Brittan has enabled the news media to mention allegations that had been circulating by other means for many years. In June 2014, Brittan was questioned by police about the alleged rape, in 1967, of a teenager. The focus on Brittan intensified in October 2014 when Labour MP Jim Hood, speaking in the House of Commons, referred to allegations that the Lord had “improper conduct with children”. Parliamentary privilege protected Mr Hood from defamation action and also allowed newspapers, blogs and broadcasters to refer to the allegation without being dragged into expensive libel trials.

More details have emerged since Brittan died last month. Writing in The Mirror, MP Tom Watson said: “I’ve spoken to a woman who said he raped her in 1967. And I’ve spoken to a man who was a child when he says Brittan raped him. And I know of two others who have made similar claims of abuse. To these people, the Establishment has closed rank and slammed down the shutters. They talk of their devastation. Today, one survivor said to me that Brittan ‘showed me no kindness or warmth.’ That Brittan was ‘as close to evil as a human being could get in my view’.”

When he died, aged 75, Brittan was being investigated for the alleged abuse of several children. Some of the cases relate to Elm Guest House, a former venue in south west London where, it is claimed, ‘VIPs’ abused children trafficked from care homes. Others relate to Dolphin Square, a block of luxurious flats in Pimlico, London. The proximity of the building to the Houses of Parliament, MI5 and MI6 premises has made it a popular residence for MPs, intelligence staff and civil servants.

Dolphin Square has been linked to the abuse of trafficked children by powerful people. One witness known as Nick, who gave information to the police following interviews by Exaro News and the Sunday People, reports seeing a Tory MP kill a 12-year-old boy by strangling him at Dolphin Square in the 1980s. Nick has also spoken of another victim of the ring, aged 10 or 11, being deliberately run over and killed. Another murder claim being investigated by police is that a boy was beaten to death in front of Brittan by two men.

Nick claims Leon Brittan raped him numerous times from the age of 11, at Dolphin Square and other locations. In relation to the evidence given by Nick, lead investigator Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald has said: “Nick has been spoken to by experienced officers from child abuse teams and experienced officers from murder investigations. They and I believe what Nick is saying is credible and true.” At least two further witnesses have given evidence to detectives about abuse by Brittan and others at Dolphin Square.

It is heartening that these allegations are now being taken seriously. However, campaigners and survivors I have contact with are outraged that Leon Brittan died without facing allegations in court. If, rather than consider the impact on victims, one looked at these sort of allegations against members of the Establishment as a threat to social stability, then there is some twisted logic in sweeping them under the carpet. In that callous way of thinking, social order is King. And, like in a game of chess, it must be protected at all costs. If a pawn gets mown down, so be it.

I agree that society is sovereign and should be protected, but ultimately these allegations coming to light is not the real threat to society. Networks of twisted, corrupt powerful people raping children are the problem here. Justifications that politicians and the intelligence service may use to sacrifice justice to protect society are spurious. It is not society that is protected by serious crimes being swept under the carpet but a rotten decrepit Establishment. One thing that really does anger and destabilise society is certain people acting as though they are above the law. King John found that out to his peril, but some callous power obsessed ‘elites’ of our era haven’t learned that lesson.



Filed under Abuse

29 responses to “Abuse Cover-Ups Suggest We Haven’t Come Very Far Since The Magna Carta

  1. Pingback: Abuse Cover-Ups Suggest We Haven’t Come Very Far Since The Magna Carta | Alternative News Network

  2. Paul Mac

    Somehow culture & social practices seem to ignore certain injustices until a tipping point is reached. When that point comes it feels long overdue.

    It’s hard to imagine or accept that child abuse should ever have been tolerated. Perhaps the ease of communication today enables us to discuss concerns in a way we never would have before. Obviously blogs, smartphones, cheap cameras, the net, etc. weren’t around when I was a kid. I’d no evidence to support anything I said. Just my word against someone more respected. It would be easier to obtain evidence today although it’s frustrating that it’s still going on & large parts of society continue to live in denial.

    Things change though & a movement had started.

    There are clips of ‘The Black & White Minstrel Show’ on YouTube. It looks like something from a parallel universe now but 20 million tuned in to it on Saturday nights in the 70s ‘ & I’d presume most of them enjoyed it. Showing it now would create a firestorm of condemnation.

    Things can change & must in regard to CSA. I’m not blessed with patience though & I don’t like watching as the guilty die off unchallenged.

  3. gw


    “A police officer understood to be under investigation by a watchdog in relation to the Rotherham child abuse scandal has died following a car crash.

    South Yorkshire PC Hassan Ali, 44, died in hospital nine days after he was hit by a car in Sheffield on 28 January.

    Mr Ali was being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over allegations made about him, the BBC understands.

    He was not on duty at the time of the crash in Staniforth Road, Darnall.

    A force spokeswoman said she could not confirm PC Ali’s involvement in the IPCC investigation.”

    • Paul Mac

      The Telegraph are reporting:
      “It is understood PC Ali was under investigation at the time of his death over allegations that he had twice asked a victim of the sexual exploitation scandal out on a date.”

  4. dpack

    i listened to the radio ulster program regarding an inquiry to cover matters at and around kincora and in relation to the troubles in a broader sense.
    the conclusion i came to was that the full truth being made public is the way to protect the public and that “protecting” the public from the truth as it might cause a major upheaval to society only serves to protect those who did or would do evil deeds.

    as paul mac states above the access to information and conversation that the web has given the people has indeed changed the slope of the battlefield in favour of the people . as little as twenty years ago it was not possible to expose the facts and demonstrate the links in the ways that electronic access to the worlds information and citizens has given us today.
    until recently even intelligence gathering and analysis organisations be they educational,commercial ,governmental or “spooky”were limited to the data they could physically obtain and store and most importantly they needed to know they had it and that info A might fit with info G to provide a valuable insight into reality.
    well chosen search criteria are part of a new skill set but the insights that can be obtained by every citizen today would be unimaginable the the registry queens of thirty years ago who were only slightly better equipped than a royal “adviser”in the time of king john

  5. Sabre

    Progress has always been incremental if not infinitesimal.
    The king was supreme, God’s choice no less.
    The real world kicks in and the King realises that the Barons are on the one hand better backstops than God on the other they are clear and present dangers to him.
    The King confers rights and privileges on his Barons, they don’t get equality with the King.
    The Baron is powerful by virtue of his Knights, keep them happy but watch them closely.

    Those with the means protect and advance their own interests and have always done so.
    Rights,freedoms and privileges accrue to groups according to the group’s ability to secure them.

    Should those at the bottom of the hierarchy get rights freedoms and privileges the relative value of the benefits accrued higher up the hierarchy
    Autocratic,Theocratic and Authoritarian regimes are tolerated by the majority of those subjected to them ( most people make the best of their lot and get on with their lives) a small minority truly love the regimes due to their positions and the rights freedoms and privileges accorded them.
    A larger minority absolutely and violently oppose them, feeling justified to use all means necessary to overthrow them.

    The ‘liberal democracies’ are regarded as the ideal form of Government by those with real power.
    We have all been conned into believing that we are ‘free’ and ‘equal before the law’ we have ‘freedom of speech’ the ‘right to assemble and protest’
    we can ‘vote regularly and freely’ we can ‘stand for office’ we can expect ‘due process’ we can ‘seek judicial review’, the fact that these rights and privileges are always subject to conditions set by those likely to be most affected by our exercising them seems to pass the great unwashed by.

    It would be very bad manners to revolt for we are free!

    • Andy Barnett

      We tolerate regimes, placing might and power in the hands of the few, because the alternative, lawless society is intolerable. We trust those in power not to exploit their might because to believe we live as cattle is unthinkable. And we accept our situation with humble subservience because the fight against captivity is bloody. But we can know. And we can judge. And we will speak truth to power and hold a mirror up to those that do evil, so they too can know the truth.

  6. Will Black

    Wow, getting a much more considered and profound replies than I do when I put things on Huff Post. Thank you all, very thought provoking.

  7. Gary

    Magna what? We have only the rights we take. ‘Controversial’ blogger Chris Spivey is prosecuted for writing articles and making enquiries in a manner reminiscent of a tabloid journalist. Right or wrong, its not a criminal matter. At the same time, because GCHQs relationship with NSA and PRISM are in the public domain thanks to Edward Snowden, this makes it legal! I appreciate that ‘controversial’ bloggers can be difficult to sympathise with, especially given some of the subject matter BUT it’s easy to be in favour of free speech when you agree with it. The principle is as much, if not more important when you disagree, dislike or abhor the content. Government are slowly crossing lines, nibbling at the edges of our society a piece at a time. Now its ‘controversial’ bloggers, activists, aid workers going overseas – perhaps slightly unacceptable but nothing to worry about, who will be next, what about when they come for you? Who will stand up for you then, will there be anyone left?

  8. Sabre

    Unfortunately there is no such thing as free speech and you can always rely on someone being offended and refusing to tolerate it.

    In conclusion you are free to say what those granting the right will tolerate.

  9. Newsflash: Certain people have always been above the law. It is not what you know, but who you know. Nothing new under the sun, and stories you were told in school about the Magna Carta etc, are just that – stories.

    The thing is most parents know this, but they help perpetuate the myth and reinforce the chains, by allowing their children to be fed the same propaganda. Those in control must laugh at how so many parents willing enslave the minds of the next generation.

  10. chrisb

    The aim of the Magna Carta was not to make everyone equal before the law. It was to remove the privileges that the King claimed over the barons. Both King and barons were then free to abuse the vast majority of the population.

    Having said that, I don’t dispute that it was the first step in devolving power form an all-powerful monarch to the general population. If anyone wonders what a feudal monarchy was like, imagine Saudi Arabia without the oil money.

  11. When imaginary, delusional, false or fictitious elements of a subject are stripped away, what is left is the reality of the matter.
    “Anthony Gilberthorpe says he sent her [Thatcher] a 40-page dossier in 1989 accusing Cabinet members of abusing underage boys at drug-fuelled conference parties. Mr Gilberthorpe, who claims he was ordered to recruit boys for the ministers, says he posted the “graphic” allegations to Mrs Thatcher after befriending her. Mr Gilberthorpe, who was a young Tory hopeful when he was asked to recruit for the parties, said: “I outlined exactly what I had witnessed and informed her I intended to expose it.
    He said that being overlooked for the safe Tory seat of Gloucester in April 1986 made up his mind to shop the ministers. “I believe I was stitched up and it gave me an insight into the treacherous nature of the party,” he added.
    “It was one of the reasons I decided reveal what I’d witnessed. I made it very clear to Mrs Thatcher most trusted ministers had been at these parties with boys who were between 15 and 16′.

    But, by his own account, Gilberthorpe wasn’t just a witness – he was the procurer!
    “He said: “Dr Smith, who I looked up to at the time and was the most ­important Tory in Scotland, told me to go and fetch some ‘entertainment’, which was code for young boys and handed me a handful of bank notes. There was about £120.” “It was the first time I was asked to fetch them but it was hardly surprising as I was becoming one of their trusted people. There was a well known and used cruising area close to the Imperial Hotel, which was a conference hotel. The hotel was not open to the public.
    “So myself and another Tory candidate walked down there and sat on some benches underneath an archway in the Pavilion area of Blackpool and waited.” “He said they were approached within minutes by a “guy aged about 20” called James. He went on: “I asked him if he wanted to come back to the hotel and he said ‘yes’. We asked if he had any mates and he went away and came back with two boys who were aged about 15 and no older”.

    It’s very likely that Gilberthorpe’s “dossier” was in fact the same dossier that several other persons claim to have possessed at one time, some of whom “submitted” it in very ways to various government ministries/ departments/ agencies, and was the core information of dossiers compiled by MPs Dickens and Mann.

    So – the infamous “parties” were really Conservative party activist & lobbyist blow-outs held during various conferences over a number of years. They were not pedophile ring “parties” like the Cooke gang’s “parties”. The boys were not forcibly transported from care homes, they were absconders working the sex trade of their own volition. The boys were not supplied nor transported by Sidney Cooke, they were picked up at random off the street by Gilberthorpe. Some boys may have been subsequently taken to similar parties held by the same mid-level political functionairres, by a 20 year old gay prostitute-pimp who met these politicos at the conference parties.
    “Andrew Ash” seems to be a very confused person, being exploited by Bill Maloney and Chris Fay. Fay continues to make self-evidently fanciful assertions. For example, that MPs and Ministers with alleged pedophilic tendencies PAID a brothel-keeper for the “service” of taking undeniably incriminating, full-face photographs of them, with naked children and/or engaged in CSA – and were TOO PROFOUNDLY STUPID to even imagine that the brothel-keeper might keep copies of these blackmailing ‘gemstones’. These photos were “stolen” of course, and presumably destroyed or held by some intelligence agency…

    • gw

      To clarify – are you saying that Gilberthorpe compiled the “source” dossier? I only ask as Dickens dossier was submitted in 1983. FWIW I am sceptical of Gilberthorpe’s claims.

    • Sabre

      On the one hand allegations can’t be true due to the fact that the parties involved would have to be TOO PROFOUNDLY STUPID, on the other Gilberthorpe, a man who aspired to a safe seat, pimps kids and gets all sensitive about it ONLY AFTER being overlooked for the safe seat, he indicts himself as a pimp re the kids, a hypocrite, a traitor re those he acquired the kids for, a fool for admitting his grave crime to the Prime Minister and one of the more despicable scumbags crawling the earth.
      He was obviously overlooked in error being an ideal LibLabCon candidate for high office A PROFOUNDLY STUPID, CYNICAL CORRUPT SCUMBAG just ripe for being controlled.

      Justin, I fear that you have argued against your case.

      • Sabre- I would not argue against Gilberthorpe being any of the things on your list :)

        I’m certainly not trying to portray him, or his alleged “whistleblowing” as in any way heroic. [I see that the links I embedded in the previous rant have…vanished? The quotations are from various Mirror articles]
        He is quite open about having been motivated by petty VENGEANCE, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some recipients of his dossier dismissed it on that basis and tossed it in the shredder. Being open about his motives doesn’t asway my suspicion that he might have exaggerated the extent of Famous Names involvement – perhaps from simply ‘being there’ to ‘publicly having sex with underage rent boys’. I’m skeptical that his Famous Names were quite as PROFOUNDLY STUPID as he suggests, either.

        On the other hand…many more elements of his story are 1)plausible and 2)verifiable – in comparison to Fay’s voluntarily generated VIP child porn blackmail photos, which frankly don’t exist.

      • Sabre


        Fair point Justin thanks. Re the ‘VIP blackmail photos’, I assume that you are not unreasonably arguing that they are unlikely to exist?
        You don’t know that they don’t exist?

      • gw

        @Sabre – with ref to your comments on the photos one can’t prove a negative (pun not intended)

      • Sabre

        It is generally accepted that you can’t prove a negative and that was my point. It isn’t strictly true about proving negatives ( no pun intended ;-) )
        One look at my birth certificate proves that I didn’t assassinate JFK.

      • gw

        @Sabre. Touche!

        Although working with this example lets just say we weren’t able to look at your birth certificate. You might claim that not making a copy was the “worst decision of my life” – haha!

    • tdf

      “When imaginary, delusional, false or fictitious elements of a subject are stripped away, what is left is the reality of the matter.”

      ….which is missing and presumed murdered children, such as Martin Allen and Vishal Mehrotra, and testimony from a source that the police apparently believe is credible that high level figures were involved in their disappearance and murders.

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