The Friday Night Song.
The Friday Night Song.
News today that William Hague is to be elevated to the House of Lords after standing down at the last general general election as the Member of Parliament for Richmond, Yorkshire, a post he had held since the 1989 by-election following Leon Brittan’s resignation to become a European Commissioner.
On the face of it William Hague’s elevation to the Lords is unsurprising. In fact, as one of Parliaments most capable debaters over the last quarter of a century, a former leader of the Conservative Party, and a former Foreign Secretary, it would have been strange if he hadn’t received a peerage in the Dissolution Honours List. Nevertheless, at a time when public concern over Westminster paedophilia and Establishment cover- up, and with very serious and as yet unresolved questions regarding William Hague’s own alleged role in protecting VIP paedophiles when he was Secretary of State for Wales, there will be many who will see William Hague’s elevation to the Lords as at best an insensitive decision and at worst a signal from the Prime Minister that as far as he is concerned it is business as usual for the establishment and the greater media scrutiny of VIP child sexual abuse at this time is only a temporary storm that can be ridden out.
To understand why the decision to give William Hague a peerage is more controversial than the casual observer might otherwise realise we need to examine the decisions that he took while drawing up the Terms of Reference for The Waterhouse Inquiry.
The Terms of Reference for the Waterhouse Inquiry were;
(a) to inquire into the abuse of children in care in the former county council areas of Gwynedd and Clwyd since 1974;
(b) to examine whether the agencies and authorities responsible for such care, through the placement of the children or through the regulation or management of the facilities, could have prevented the abuse or detected its occurrence at an earlier stage;
(c) to examine the response of the relevant authorities and agencies to allegations and complaints of abuse made either by children in care, children formerly in care or any other persons, excluding scrutiny of decisions whether to prosecute named individuals;
(d) in the light of this examination, to consider whether the relevant caring and investigative agencies discharged their functions appropriately and, in the case of the caring agencies, whether they are doing so now; and to report its findings and to make recommendations to him.
Whether it was William Hague’s intention at the time or not, what we do know is that Ronald Waterhouse interpreted point a) as a geographical restriction and that abuse of care home children outside of North Wales, notably across the English border in Chester, was excluded and that further restrictions on examining alleged abusers were the consequence of point c).
Concern that the Terms of Reference might be too narrow was immediate as can be see from Ron Davies’ , Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, reply to William Hague’s announcement of The Waterhouse Inquiry.
“Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the terms of reference will be sufficiently wide to examine the whole question of organised child abuse? The allegations centre on a former local authority children’s home network. Does he accept that the nature of the allegations indicates the possible existence of a wider paedophile network, extending throughout society and into its most powerful reaches?” – Ron Davies 17th June 1996
One thing seems certain and that is that above and beyond the Westminster rumours regarding Sir Peter Morrison’s interest in young boys, William Hague was aware at the time he was drawing up the Terms of Reference for Waterhouse of at least one powerful Tory, Margaret Thatcher’s former Parliamentary Private Secretary, former Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, and formally the Member of Parliament for Chester, Sir Peter Morrison , who had died the previous year. As can be seen by this recollection from Gyles Brandreth who succeeded Morrison as MP for Chester;
The first, and only, official acknowledgement of my predecessor’s possible involvement in child abuse came my way in 1996, when William Hague, then Secretary of State for Wales, came up to me in the Commons to let me know that he had ordered an inquiry into allegations of child abuse in care homes in North Wales between 1974 and 1990 — and that Morrison’s name might feature in connection with the Bryn Estyn home in Wrexham, 12 miles from Chester.
Sir Ronald Waterhouse QC, a retired High Court judge, was appointed to head the inquiry. It took three years, cost £12 million, and when the Waterhouse report appeared it made grim reading.
It named and criticised almost 200 people for either abusing children or failing to offer them sufficient protection. Credible evidence had been found of ‘widespread sexual abuse’, with the existence of a paedophile ring in the Wrexham/Chester area.
But Sir Peter Morrison’s name did not feature.
Perhaps it might have been an idea if Justice Macur had published her report, which is looking into whether the Waterhouse Inquiry’s Terms of Reference were too narrow, before Hague was elevated ?
It seems that just as Harvey Proctor has claimed, the police assured General Sir Hugh Beach that he was not a suspect when they interviewed him.
I think at the very least the police should clear that up.
On Tuesday he held an extraordinary press conference in which he accused the Metropolitan Police of running a “homosexual witch hunt”.
But he also named other men who police were allegedly investigating, including three who had not been made public before.
The MP had also not contacted the individuals or their surviving families before naming them.
One of them was Sir Hugh, a former Master General of the Ordnance and former Deputy Commander in Chief of UK Land Forces.
In a statement, Sir Hugh, 92, said: “The police have confirmed that despite what has been reported in the press no allegation of any kind has been made against me.
“I am keen to give them every assistance and they have confirmed that I have been as helpful as possible in connection with their investigation.
“The police have interviewed me on one occasion but not in any sense as a suspect.”
His son, John, said: “’It’s extraordinary. My father is a 92-year-old gentleman and I don’t think he’s done anything wrong.
“I’ve never heard Harvey Proctor’s name in my father’s circle. They certainly weren’t mates.
“He was a very senior Army officer, a full General – anyone of that kind seems to be a target.”
Mr Proctor also named Sir Michael Hanley, who was Director General of MI5 from 1971 to 1978 and died in 2001.
In a statement on behalf of the family, his daughter Sarah said: “Until this morning we knew of no alleged investigation by the Met in to allegations against our father.
Our father was a decent, loving, principled family man. These are unfounded allegations from an anonymous source and, as such, have no effect on our father’s good name.”
Let’s begin by examining the points that Harvey Proctor made yesterday in his press conference (transcript of full statement Here) that I disagree with.
Firstly, Harvey Proctor alleged that the police investigation was a “homosexual witch hunt”. This is not true. Homosexuals are attracted to other men, heterosexuals are attracted to members of the opposite sex, paedophiles and pederasts are attracted to minors. Those that abuse young boys might self-identify as either homosexual or heterosexual. Yes, that is correct. Men who self-identify as heterosexuals can, and do, sexually abuse young boys. I’d just like to thank R for sharing his insights with me after decades of research into this.
Another point that Harvey Proctor made that is entirely wrong, is the suggestion that Tom Watson MP has used parliamentary privilege to allude to this case. His question on 24th October 2012 at PMQs (Here) is completely unrelated to Operation Midland and to the best of my knowledge he rarely comments on allegations, he just passes them on to the police when possible. This extract from The Guardian interview with him last year demonstrates that he seems to take a responsible and balanced view on Operation Midland.
Nevertheless, ever since putting his parliamentary question, Watson has been overwhelmed by an “avalanche” of allegations against much more powerful men from “survivors who are very, very damaged and angry and upset”, had previously gone to the police and been disbelieved, and now saw him as a new gateway to justice.
“A slightly reluctant gateway,” he confesses. A “naturally disorganised person”, equipped with neither the skills nor the resources to process the deluge of allegations, at times Watson wondered what he had got himself into.
Does he believe what the accusers tell him? He looks awkward. “I’m not here to investigate, or to judge.” He has met the man known as Nick, but “it was a very, very traumatic and difficult conversation, as you would imagine. He only told me about one murder. He spoke very slowly, very intermittently, and I didn’t need to hear any more.” Did Watson trust the account? He sighs uneasily. “These allegations, they’re so enormous that you need critical faculties. What I’m certain of is that he’s not delusional. He is either telling the truth, or he’s made up a meticulous and elaborate story.
So, whatever else can be said about the current situation that Harvey Proctor finds himself in, it is neither politically motivated or a homosexual witch hunt.
One final point that I vehemently disagree with Harvey Proctor on is his suggestion that ‘complainants’ (his preferred term) should not have guaranteed anonymity. I think this is a valuable principle which should not be eroded. Obviously, if the police feel that a ‘complainant’ should be charged with perverting the course of justice, as happened with Ben Fellows who was found not guilty, the complainant becomes the accused and has no right to anonymity but I’m confident that in this case ‘Nick’ has not sought to pervert the course of justice and so I do not think that this will be an issue.
Having examined the points that I disagree with Harvey Proctor on I want to turn to the points that I sympathise with him on.
I do not believe the allegations against him which are being investigated by Operation Midland are true. I believe that ‘Nick’ was sexually abused as a child but I do not believe that Harvey Proctor and many of the others that were named yesterday are responsible. It was for this reason that The Needle did not republished many of the media allegations regarding Operation Midland over the last year.
The broad facts as I see them, and this information is all in the public domain, is that ‘Nick’ had previously made a complaint to the police several months before he went again to them with an Exaro journalist. I think it is safe to assume that the information that was given to the police in this second interview was substantively different from that which was given to the police on the first occasion. What happened in those intervening months, and who ‘Nick’ had been in contact with, we can not know but what we do know is that someone, either Exaro or someone else, showed photographs to ‘Nick’ which helped him identify the ‘suspects’ and that later at the Operation Midland press conference last year the Metropolitan Police criticised this.*
Much has been made of the fact that the Head of Operation Midland, Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald had said on television some months ago “I believe what ‘Nick’ is saying as credible and true “. Many have understandably assumed that if the police take these allegations seriously then there must be something in them, right ?
This, in my view, ill-advised statement needs to be seen in the context of the dysfunctional police/media relationship which has developed over the last three years and also the probability that these allegations seemed to corroborate, at least in part, other information that the police had received. I’m not in a position to discuss other information the police may have received but I can try to give readers some idea of the kind of pressure that some media outlets have brought to bear. An obvious example is this story in The Express, Here. The source of this story has been referred to the in the press as ‘Andrew’. ‘Andrew’ has been the source of a great many false stories in the press, including Exaro, over the last 2 years including a rather revolting allegation against a former female MP reported again in The Express, which even Exaro publicly distanced themselves from. The story relates that ‘Andrew’ was shown a photograph of a former BBC executive who he then identified as a person who abused him. Instead of going to the police with the allegation (the police no doubt knew all about ‘Andrew’ by this stage) the information was passed to the BBC. Given the current situation the BBC are in, they had no alternative but to pass this, and indeed any allegation of sexual abuse they receive, to the Metropolitan Police, who in turn could not do anything other than investigate an allegation passed to them by the BBC. The Express could then legitimise their story by correctly claiming that, “Detectives are investigating claims that a retired BBC executive abused young boys at his home in Amsterdam.” I have no idea whether this ‘former BBC executive’ was an abuser or not but what I do know without a shadow of a doubt is that this story was completely engineered, taking advantage of the predicament that both the BBC and police now find themselves in and this ‘story’ is not unique.
Reflect also on the fact that only a few months before ‘Nick’ went to the police with an Exaro journalist, Exaro had forced out the head of Operation Fairbank, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Settle over, in my view, a disgraceful series of stories that suggested the DCI Settle had failed to adequately pursue Leon Brittan over a rape allegation by an Exaro source known as ‘Jane’. This had nothing to do with campaigning for justice and everything to do with squeezing every last drop from their story. I could go into great detail about this but I’ll leave that there. Suffice it to say that it was an appalling example of the lowest type of journalism, one that does not serve the interests of their ‘source’ and thoroughly misleads the public.
Given all of this context, is it really any wonder that the police might be concerned to be perceived to be not taking allegations of child sexual abuse seriously ? Don’t get me wrong, the situation that the police, the CPS, and some other institutions find themselves in is one entirely of their own making. It is because of their historic failures to investigate CSA and credible allegations of cover-up that has brought them to this difficult place but it is some in the media that have exploited the situation.
For almost two years we on The Needle have been waiting for the inevitable consequences of this dysfunctional police/media relationship to come to a head. All this time we’ve been concerned about how it may affect those genuine abuse victims who go to the police. Did those pushing these stories, while claiming to be campaigners ever consider this ?
There are some who have questioned Harvey Proctor’s right to speak candidly about the allegations made against him. He has every right to give his side of the story. If he had been arrested or charged with an offence then that would be a different matter but he has not and so he has as much right to speak to the media as those who have made allegations against him.
Any genuine journalist or campaigner will welcome the new information, it is only those that seek to close down any debate and attack objectivity and balance that seem to be upset that Harvey Proctor has made a statement.
Pathetic and puerile comments like this one by Exaro editor Mark Watts, which seem to accuse anyone who dares to question of being ‘Paedo-Protectors’, or ‘on the side of abusers’.
This is how a cult works, by marginalising and insulting the objective commentators the debate becomes dominated by extremists, and those too scared to voice an objection. Worse still are the behind the scenes rumour spreading and smears all designed to undermine anyone that can think independently. N0ne of it helps survivors of CSA, none of it !
I’m not going to go into details of why I believe Harvey Proctor when he states that these Operation Midland allegations are untrue. I will say that it was my view before yesterday and that the details from the press statement only confirmed what I already thought to be the case.
The police are still investigating these allegations, I hope that they conclude their investigation expeditiously and on conclusion make a clear and unequivocal statement about it.
* NB, I’ve been told by two reliable and independent sources that the Metropolitan Police criticism of ‘photo ID was directed at another journalist and not Exaro. That said it was Exaro that claimed in a story that Nick had identified the suspects because of photographs that they had shown him.
One very important point to make is that this statement has not been checked exactly with what he actually said today.
STATEMENT BY MR KEITH HARVEY PROCTOR
MADE IN THE MARLBOROUGH ROOM, ST.ERMIN’S HOTEL, LONDON
NOT FOR RELEASE BEFORE 2PM ON TUESDAY 25th AUGUST 2015
I am a private citizen. I have not held public office and I have not sought public office since May 1987. As such, I am entitled to be regarded as a private citizen. Since the General Election of 1987 I have sought a private life. I have been enjoying a full life, gainfully employed and personally happy.
This all came to an abrupt end on 4th March 2015. What now follows is a statement on my present predicament created by an unidentified person making totally untrue claims against my name. Before going any further I wish to make it clear that the genuine victims of child sexual abuse have my fullest sympathy and support and I would expect the full weight of the law to be used against anyone, be he ‘ever so high, or ever so low’, committing such odious offences. Nobody and I repeat, nobody is above the law.
2. However, I attach equal weight to justice for innocent people wrongly accused of child sexual abuse, especially when it is done anonymously. This is what is happening to me and many high profile figures, many of whom are dead and cannot answer back. This statement is necessarily lengthy and detailed and at times complicated. Please bear with me and at the end I will be prepared to answer your questions.
3. On 18th June, 2015, at my request, I was interviewed by the Metropolitan Police Murder Squad “Operation Midland”. This interview lasted over 6 hours. At the very outset I had to help the Police with my full name which they appeared not to know. It may surprise you that it was over 3 and an half months after my home was searched for 15 hours and more than 7 months after the most serious allegations were made against me that I was interviewed. I went on to cooperate fully with the Police with their investigation.
4. The allegations have been made by a person who the Police have dubbed with a pseudonym – “NICK”. He appears on television with a blacked out face and an actor’s voice. All of this is connected with alleged historical child sexual abuse in the 1970ies and 1980ies. “NICK” was interviewed by the Police in the presence of a reporter from Exaro – an odd internet news agency.
5. As a Member of Parliament I always spoke in favour of the police. I believe in law and order and I believe in equipping the police to do their job and , with my track record, it will come as a surprise that I have grave and growing concerns about the Police generally and more specifically “Operation Midland”. I have decided to share these concerns with you. I believe I am not speaking just for myself today. I hope I am not being presumptuous when I say I feel I am speaking for those who have no voice whatsoever including the dead to whom I referred moments ago.
6. Two days before my interview with the Police, my Solicitors – Sakhi Solicitors of Leicester – were sent a “disclosure” document. It set out the matters the Police wished to discuss with me. It was the first time I had known of what I had been accused. On the day of my interview I was not arrested, nor placed on Police bail, I was told I could leave the Police Station at any time and that it was a voluntary interview. I and my Solicitors had previously been told I was not a suspect.
7. At the end of the interview I was given no information as to how much longer the Police investigation would take to bring the matter to a conclusion. I think you will understand I cannot allow this matter to rest.
8. So you can gauge how angry I am and in an attempt to stop the “drip, drip, drip” of allegations by the police into the media , I now wish to share with you in detail the uncorroborated and untrue allegations that have been made against me by “NICK”. Anyone of a delicate or a nervous disposition should leave the room now.
9. The following is taken from the Police disclosure document given to my Solicitors two days before my first interview with the Police under the headings “Circumstances”, “Homicides” and “Sexual abuse”.
The victim in this investigation is identified under the pseudonym “Nick”. He made allegations to the Metropolitan Police Service in late 2014. Due to the nature of the offences alleged, “Nick” is entitled to have his identity withheld.
“Nick” stated he was the victim of systematic and serious sexual abuse by a group of adult males over a period between 1975 and 1984. The abuse was often carried out whilst in company with other boys whom were also abused by the group.
“Nick” provided names of several individuals involved in these acts including Mr HARVEY PROCTOR. He states MR PROCTOR abused him on a number of occasions which included sexual assault, buggery and torturous assault. He also states MR PROCTOR was present when he was assaulted by other adult males. Furthermore, “Nick” states he witnessed the murder of three young boys on separate occasions. He states MR PROCTOR was directly responsible for two of the allegations and implicated in the third.
The dates and locations relevant to MR PROCTOR are as follows:-
1980 – at a residential house in central London. “Nick” was driven by car to an address in the Pimlico/Belgravia area where a second boy (the victim) was also collected in the same vehicle. Both boys, aged approximately 12-years-old, were driven to another similar central London address. MR PROCTOR was present with another male. Both boys were led to the back of the house. MR PROCTOR then stripped the victim, and tied him to a table. He then produced a large kitchen knife and stabbed the child through the arm and other parts of the body over a period of 40 minutes. A short time later MR PROCTOR untied the victim and anally raped him on the table. The other male stripped “Nick” and anally raped him over the table. MR PROCTOR then strangled the victim with his hands until the boy’s body went limp. Both males then left the room. Later, MR PROCTOR returned and led “Nick” out of the house and into a waiting car.
1981-82 – at a residential address in central London. “Nick” was collected from Kingston train station and taken to a “party” at a residential address. The witness was among four young boys. Several men were present including MR PROCTOR. One of the men told the boys one of them would die that night and they had to choose who. When the boys wouldn’t decide, the men selected one of the boys (the victim). Each of the four boys including “Nick” were taken to separate rooms for “private time”. When they all returned to the same room, Nick was anally raped by MR PROCTOR and another male as “punishment”. The other males also anally raped the remaining boys. MR PROCTOR and two other males then began beating the chosen victim by punching and kicking. The attack continued until the boy collapsed on the floor and stopped moving. All of the men left the room. The remaining boys attempted to revive the victim but he was not breathing. They were left for some time before being taken out of the house and returned to their homes.
Between May and July 1979 – in a street in Coombe Hill, Kingston. Nick was walking in this area with another boy (the victim) when he heard the sound of a car engine revving. A dark-coloured car drove into the victim knocking him down. “Nick” could see the boy covered in blood and his leg bent backwards. A car pulled up and “Nick” was grabbed and placed in the car. He felt a sharp pain in his arm and next remembered being dropped off at home. He was warned not to have friends in future. “Nick” never saw the other boy again. “Nick” does not identify MR PROCTOR as being directly involved in this allegation. However, he states MR PROCTOR was part of the group responsible for the systematic sexual abuse he suffered. Furthermore, he believes the group were responsible for the homicide.
1978-1984 – Dolphin Square, Pimlico. “Nick” was at the venue and with at least one other young boy. MR PROCTOR was present with other males.MR PROCTOR told “Nick” to pick up a wooden baton and hit the other boy. When “Nick” refused he was punished by MR PROCTOR and the other males. He was held down and felt pain in his feet. He fell unconscious. When he awoke he was raped by several males including MR PROCTOR.
1978-1981 – Carlton Club, central London, “Nick” was driven to the Carlton Club and dropped off outside. MR PROCTOR opened the door. Inside the premises were several other males. “Nick” was sexually assaulted by another male (not by MR PROCTOR on this occasion ).
1978-1981 – swimming pool in central London. “Nick” was taken to numerous ‘pool parties’ where he and other boys were made to undress, and perform sexual acts on one another. He and other boys were then anally raped and sexually abused by several men including MR PROCTOR.
1981-1982 – Large town house in London. “Nick” was taken to the venue on numerous occasions where MR PROCTOR and one other male were present. He was forced to perform oral sex on MR PROCTOR who also put his hands around “Nick’’’s throat to prevent him breathing. On another occasion at the same location, MR PROCTOR sexually assaulted “Nick” before producing a pen-knife and threatening to cut “Nick’’’s genitals.MR PROCTOR was prevented from doing so by the other male present.
1979-1984 – residential address in central London.”Nick” was taken to the venue. MR PROCTOR was present with one other male. MR PROCTOR forced “Nick” to perform oral sex on him before beating him with punches.
1978-1984 – numerous locations including Carlton Club,Dolphin Square and a central London townhouse. “Nick” described attending several ‘Christmas parties’ where other boys were present together with numerous males including MR PROCTOR. “Nick” was given whiskey to drink before being forced to perform oral sex on several men including MR PROCTOR.
MR PROCTOR will be interviewed about the matters described above and given the opportunity to provide an account.”
10. I denied all and each of the allegations in turn and in detail and categorised them as false and untrue and, in whole, an heinous calumny. They amount to just about the worst allegations anyone can make against another person including, as they do, multiple murder of children, their torture, grievous bodily harm, rape and sexual child abuse.
11. I am completely innocent of all these allegations.
12. I am an homosexual. I am not a murderer. I am not a paedophile or pederast. Let me be frank, I pleaded guilty to four charges of gross indecency in 1987 relating to the then age of consent for homosexual activity. Those offences are no longer offences as the age of consent has dropped from 21 to 18 to 16. What I am being accused of now is a million miles away from that consensual activity.
13. At the start of the interview, I was told that although the interview would be recorded by the Police both for vision and sound, I would not receive a copy of the tapes. I asked to record the interview for sound myself but my request was refused. During the interview, to ensure that “Nick” had not identified the wrong person, I asked if I could see photographs purporting to be me which had been shown to him. My request was refused. At the end of the interview I was asked if I knew my 8 alleged co conspirators whose homes it was alleged I had visited. I believe I have a good recollection and the list comprised a number of people I knew, some who I had heard of but not met and some I did not know. None of the allegations were alleged to have taken place at my home and I have not visited the homes of any of the “gang”.
14. The list included the names of the late Leon Brittan and the late Edward Heath.
15. If it was not so serious, it would be laughable.
16. Edward Heath sacked me from the Conservative Party’s parliamentary candidates’ list in 1974. Mrs Thatcher restored me to the list 18 months later. Edward Heath despised me and he disliked my views particularly on limiting immigration from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan and my opposition to our entry into and continued membership of what is now know as the E.U. ; I opposed his corporate statist views on the Economy. I despised him too… He had sacked the late Enoch Powell, my political “hero” from the Shadow Cabinet when I was Chairman of the University of York Conservative Association. I regarded Enoch as an intellectual giant in comparison with Heath.
17. The same Edward Heath, not surprisingly, would never speak to me in the House of Commons but would snort at me as he passed me by in a Commons corridor. The feeling was entirely mutual.
18. Now I am accused of doing some of these dreadful things in his London house as well; a house to which I was never invited and to which Heath would never have invited me and to which I would have declined his invitation.
19. The same Edward Heath’s home with CCTV, housekeeper, private secretary, chauffeur, police and private detectives – all the trappings of a former Prime Minister – in the security conscious days of the IRA’s assault on London.
20. It is so farfetched as to be unbelievable. It is unbelievable because it is not true. My situation has transformed from Kafka- esque bewilderment to black farce incredulity.
21. I have nothing to hide and nothing to fear. I appeal to any witness who truthfully can place me at any of the former homes of Edward Heath or Leon Brittan at any time to come forward now. I appeal to any witness who can truthfully say I committed any of these horrible crimes to come forward now.
22. The “gang” is also alleged to have included Lord Janner ( a former Labour M.P.), Lord Bramall (Former Chief of the General Staff) , the late Maurice Oldfield (Former Head of Secret Intelligence Service – MI6), the late Sir Michael Hanley ( Director General of the Internal Security Service – MI5), General Sir Hugh Beach (Master-General of the Ordnance) and a man named – Ray Beech. I did not move in such circles. As an ex Secondary Modern School boy from Yorkshire, I was not a part of the Establishment. I had no interest being part of it. I cannot believe that these other 8 people conspired to do these monstrous things. I certainly did not.
23. Yesterday I was interviewed again by the Metropolitan Police Murder Squad for 1 hour 40 minutes. It was a voluntary interview. I was free to go at any time. I was not arrested. I am not on bail. Unhelpfully, the second disclosure document was given to me some 20 minutes after yesterday’s interview was supposed to have started rather than last Friday as had been promised. My Solicitors were told by the Police it was ready but had to be signed off by superior officers on Friday. The Metropolitan Police are either inefficient or doing it by design. Whatever else, it is inept and an unjust way to treat anyone. During yesterday’s interview, I was shown a photograph of “Nick” aged about 12. I did not recognise him. I was shown computer generated e fit images of 2 of the alleged murder victims created by “Nick”. They looked remarkably similar to each other but one with blonde hair and one dark brown. I did not recognise either image. I was asked if I knew Jimmy Saville. I told them I did not. “Nick” alleges – surprise surprise – that Saville attended the sex “parties”. I was asked if I knew a number of people including Leslie Goddard and Peter Heyman. I did not these two. I was asked if I knew well, a doctor – unnamed. Apparently “Nick” alleges the doctor was a friend of mine and allegedly he turned up to repair the damage done to the boys when they were abused at these “parties”. I could not help there . I was asked if I could recognise images of the pen knife mentioned earlier. It was suggested it was Edward Heath who persuaded me not to castrate “Nick” with it. I was obviously so persuaded by Mr Heath’s intervention that I placed the pen knife in “Nick’s” pocket ready for him to present it to the Metropolitan police over 30 years later as “evidence”. I could not identify the knife. I have never had a pen knife. I was asked if I visited Elm Guest House in Rocks Lane, Barnes. I wondered when that elephant in the room would be mentioned by the Metropolitan police. I am sorry to have to disappoint the fantasists on the internet but I did not visit Elm Guest House. I was unaware of its existence. The so called “guest list” which makes its appearance on the net must be a fake.
24. During my first interview I was told that the Police were investigating to seek out the truth. I reminded them on a number of occasions that their Head of “Operation Midland”, Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald had said on television some months ago “ I believe what “NICK” is saying as credible and true “. This statement is constantly used and manipulated by Exaro and other Media to justify their position.
25. This remark is very prejudicial to the police inquiry and its outcome. It is not justice and breaches my United Kingdom and Human Rights. This whole catalogue of events has wrecked my life, lost me my job and demolished 28 years of my rehabilitation since 1987.
26. The Police involved in “Operation Midland” are in a cleft stick of their own making. They are in a quandary. Support the “victim” however ludicrous his allegations or own up that they got it disastrously wrong but risk the charge of a cover up. What do I think should happen now?
I should be arrested, charged and prosecuted for murder and these awful crimes immediately so I can start the process of ridiculing these preposterous allegations in open court
“NICK” should be stripped of his anonymity and prosecuted for wasting police time and money, making the most foul of false allegations and seeking to pervert the course of justice. Those who have aided and abetted him should also be prosecuted. “NICK” should be medically examined to ensure he is of sound mind.
27. Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald should resign from his position as Head of “Operation Midland”. He should resign or be sacked. But as the Metropolitan Police is a bureaucratic “organisation” I suggest, to save face, he is slid sideways to be placed in control of Metropolitan London parking, traffic, jay walking or crime prevention. He too should be medically examined to ensure he is of sound mind.
28. An investigation should be launched into “Operation Midland” and its costs. Detectives’ expense claims should be analysed and a full audit carried out by independent auditors.
29. Those Labour Members of Parliament who have misused parliamentary privilege and their special position on these matters should apologise. They have behaved disgracefully, especially attacking dead parliamentarians who cannot defend themselves and others and they should make amends. They are welcome to sue me for libel. In particular, Mr Tom Watson, M.P. should state, outside the protection of the House of Commons, the names of ex Ministers and ex M.P.s who he feels are part of the so called alleged Westminster rent boy ring.
30. Lady Goddard’s Inquiry should examine “Operation Midland’s” methods so as to sift genuine historical child sexual abuse from the spurious.
31. “Operation Midland” should be wound up by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner who should also apologise at the earliest opportunity. On the 6th August 2015, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe shed crocodile tears criticising the Independent Police Complaints Commission and Wiltshire Police for naming Edward Heath as a suspect. He said it was not “fair” and his own force would not do such a thing. This is very disingenuous. When his Police officers were searching my Home and before they had left, the Press were ringing me asking for comment. I was identified. They had told “Nick” of the search who passed on the information to his press friends. The Metropolitan police have also told the press that they were investigating Heath and Brittan and others. Sir Bernard should resign for the sin of hypocrisy. If he does not, it will not be long before he establishes “Operation Plantagenet” to determine Richard III’s involvement in the murder of the Princes in the Tower of London.
32. Superintendent Sean Memory of Wiltshire Police should explain why he made a statement about Edward Heath in front of his former home in Salisbury and who advised him to select that venue. He should also resign.
33. Leon Brittan was driven to his death by police action. They already knew for 6 months before his death, on the advice of the DPP, that he would not face prosecution for the alleged rape of a young woman. But they did not tell him. They just hoped he would die without having to tell him. The Superintendent in charge of his investigation should resign.
34. The Police should stop referring automatically to people who make statements of alleged Historic child sexual abuse as “victims”. They should refer to them as “complainants” from the French “to lament” which would be more appropriate. Parliament should pass laws to better balance the right to anonymity of “victims” and the “accused”. Parliament should reinstate in law the English tradition of “innocence before being found guilty” which has been trashed in recent months by certain sections of the Police, the DPP, MPs, Magistrates and the Courts themselves.
35. I have not just come here with a complaint. I have come with the intention of showing my face in public as an innocent man. I have come to raise my voice as an aggrieved subject now deeply concerned about the administration of Justice. What has become increasingly clear about Police investigations into historical child sexual abuse is that it has been bungled in years gone by and is being bungled again NOW. The moment has come to ask ourselves if the Police are up to the task of investigating the apparent complexities of such an enquiry ? These allegations merit the most detailed and intellectually rigorous application.
36. What is clear from the last few years of police activity driven by the media, fearful of the power of the internet and the odd M.P. here and there is that the overhaul of the Police service up and down the country is now urgently required. We need “Super cops” who have been University educated and drawn from the professions. Such people could be of semi retirement status with a background in the supervision of complex, criminal investigations. These people could be drawn from the law, accountancy and insolvency practices. Former Justices of the Peace could chair some of these investigations. Adequate incentives should be provided to recruit them.
37. I speak for myself and, as a former Tory M.P. with an impeccable record in defending the Police, I have now come to believe that that blind trust in them was totally misplaced. What has happened to me could happen to anyone. It could happen to you.
38. In summary, the paranoid Police have pursued an homosexual witch hunt on this issue egged on by a motley crew of certain sections of the media and press and a number of Labour Members of Parliament and a ragbag of internet fantasists. There are questions to ask about what kind of Police Force do we have in Britain today. How can it be right for the Police to act in consort with the press with routine tip offs of House raids, impending arrests and the like. Anonymity is given to anyone prepared to make untruthful accusations of child sexual abuse whilst the alleged accused are routinely fingered publicly without any credible evidence first being found. This is not justice. It is an abuse of power and authority.
39. In conclusion, I wish to thank my Solicitors Mr Raza Sakhi and Mr Nabeel Gatrad and my family and friends for their support without which I would not have been able to survive this onslaught on my character and on my life.
I am prepared to take questions.
The Friday Night Song
Paedophile Philip Chard has been convicted despite former CSA Inquiry chair Baroness Butler-Sloss being a character witness on his behalf. She’d previously told the court: “I had no concerns about Mr Chard. I was astonished by these allegations. I think he is a much less probable offender than many I have come across.”
She was WRONG!
This I think demonstrates just how ridiculous it is that character witnesses should be allowed to give evidence on behalf of defendants. Paedophiles are by nature deceitful and very few know what they are really like. I commend the good sense of the jury who have ignored Butler-Sloss’s ‘expert’ opinion and made their judgement on the facts of the case but really the jury in any criminal case should not be subjected to potentially prejudicial and subjective assessments by friends and acquaintances of the defendant.
Such opinions perhaps have a place in mitigation after the jury have delivered their verdict but not before.
On a different issue, I had to explain to this victim of Philip Chard previously why I had to hold this comment back while the trial was ongoing but I think her view is far more valuable than that of Baroness Butler-Sloss
I was 17 and chard was 32 I was dating him at the time I use to go to dame Elizabeth butler sloss house with him she never really talked. Him and I was actually abused by this man at her home! How can she give a character witness about someone she knows nothing about? Just because the mum worker for her for many years and her character witness is given because of her persuasion. I have left the pass over 10 years ago and I wish I had said something. This man enjoyed young ladies and often dressed me as a school girl. Dame Elisabeth butler sloss is a very intelligent women I respect who she is but in this case she can not give this man a character reference and is protecting a predator of young girls! I hope her stupid character reference is not taken into account! She says he doesn’t look like a pedo… Sorry what does a pedo typically look like?…… Sicken by this all. This.man needs to be locked away and dame Elizabeth needs to stick her nose out of this she knows nothing. Charts mother who I know so well is just as sick as him!
A man has been found guilty of raping a 13-year-old girl.
Phillip Chard, from Lympstone, Exmouth, was convicted of rape and one count of sexual activity with a child.
During the trial at Exeter Crown Court, retired High Court Judge Lady Butler-Sloss had given evidence on behalf of the 44-year-old, and described him as a “much less probable offender than many I have come across”.
Mr Chard is due for sentencing at the same court on 14 September.
Evidence, if it is needed, that I’m not infallible. A year ago I posted that I thought that Butler-Sloss should be given a chance as chair of the CSA Inquiry.
Now she’s a character witness for an alleged paedophile !
I’m very pleased I have readers that are willing to point out when I’m wrong.
A retired High Court Judge has given evidence on behalf of a man who is on trial for raping a 13-year-old girl.
Baroness Butler-Sloss told Exeter Crown Court she had 34 years experience of dealing with child abuse cases.
She gave character evidence on behalf of Philip Chard, 44, on trial for rape and sexual abuse of the girl.
The baroness was appointed in July 2014 to lead an inquiry into allegations of historical child abuse but stood down before the inquiry started.
Lady Butler-Sloss, who is a working peer in the House of Lords, said Mr Chard’s mother, Valerie, had been her cleaning lady at her home in East Devon for 20 years.
She said she knew Chard because he often took his mother to her home to work and sometimes stayed there for a couple of hours.
She said: “I had no concerns about Mr Chard. I was astonished by these allegations. I think he is a much less probable offender than many I have come across.”
Former doorman Chard, of Dawlish Park Terrace, Lympstone, denies rape and five counts of sexual activity with a child.
The girl has told Exeter Crown Court how Chard crept into her bedroom when she was staying overnight at his home.
Chard told the jury nothing sexual happened during the night or on a number of previous occasions.
The trial continues.
Tim Tate is a multi- award-winning film maker, journalist, and best-selling author.
Republished from TimTate.co.uk in full with permission.
“There is a moment in Alan J. Pakula’s film adaptation of “All The President’s Men” – the tale of how two dogged newspaper journalists pursued an investigation which would help bring down the President of the United States – when Ben Bradlee, their editor at the Washington Post, dismisses one of their early stories with a terse instruction:
Get some harder information next time.”
One of the most striking aspects of Woodward & Bernstein’s book (on which the movie was based) is just how many off the record interviewees were quoted throughout their Watergate investigation. This was often a story peopled by anonymous informants and exemplified by the ultimate secret source – “Deep Throat”.
But look a little closer. For every damning – but non-attributable – allegation “Woodstein” had at least two sources. Or supporting documentary evidence. Single anonymous sources were conspicuous by their absence.
For journalists of my generation, Watergate set the standards for investigative reporting. Whether in newspapers, radio, television or books, no editor would countenance a serious allegation to be made on the word of a single, anonymous source. And references to “rumour” were banned outright.
Which brings us to the excitable news coverage about Ted Heath.
There is not a journalist in Britain who can prove whether Heath was – or was not – a child abuser. There could be victims of, or eyewitnesses to, such abuse: but if they exist you can take it to the bank that no journalist is amongst them.
And yet over the past week yet there has been an acre of newsprint and hours of broadcast time devoted to allegations that Heath was a paedophile.
“Allegation” is a powerful and important word and journalists need to use it sparingly. Anyone can make an “allegation” about anyone: any professional hack can (and often will) gossip cheerfully about unsourced claims that have washed up on their desks, phones or e-mail accounts about any number of politicians, judges, rock stars and minor celebrities – not to mention other journalists.
The vast majority of this swill of the information age goes no further than the tap room or dinner party. It is disregarded (save for the selfish pleasure of gossiping) and goes utterly uninvestigated. It also never makes it into the public arena for the very good reason that it is no more than rumour which has never been examined for any foundation.
For the past two years the genuine and very important problem of uninvestigated historic child sexual abuse has led journalists to abandon the fundamental tenets of our trade. Newspapers, television and – in particular – tweets on social media have been swamped with allegations about VIP paedophiles in politics. Rarely, if ever, have these claims been sourced to an identified – and therefore checkable – source.
In Heath’s case, the saga originally began in 1998 with David Icke, who published allegations from an unidentified alleged victim. Then sometime-barrister Michael Shrimpton (before his conviction for making false claims about a bomb threat to the Olympics) announced on Bristol Community Radio that Heath had abused and murdered boys on his yacht anchored off Jersey.
I interviewed Shrimpton over several days and asked for his evidence: he regretfully said that he couldn’t disclose his sources.
Anonymous sources would be fine – pace Watergate – if there were more than one for each published specific allegation (ie: not a collective validation of the general tenor of the story) and if these sources were independent of each other. Unfortunately that vital principle has too often been abandoned.
This reached its nadir with the announcement by Exaro News (and republished by the Evening Standard) that Guy Marsden, the nephew of Jimmy Saville, has alleged that a friend of his once told him that Heath had sexually abused him.
For absolute clarity: that is one source (identified) making an allegation about what he had been told (hearsay) by a source (who he did not identify) about an alleged incident he did not witness.
Did Exaro trace the person who had (allegedly) told Marsden about the (alleged) abuse ? I asked Exaro this question. It did not reply: not for the first time, it declined to answer queries about its reporting on historical abuse allegations.
This matters. I have spent a lifetime – almost 30 years – investigating organised paedophilia and campaigning for better child protection. Last year I wrote a heartfelt plea for responsibility in reporting: I warned then – and I repeat here – that there is a backlash growing amongst those who seek to deny the existence of widespread child sexual abuse.
If you doubt this, you have only to read the rabid bile pumped out by Spiked magazine and its supporters in the London “Commentariat”, Barbara Hewson and David Aaronovitch (to name but two). The thrust of this argument is that alleged historic abuse should be consigned to, well, history. More disturbingly, Ms. Hewson – a practicing barrister –advocates a statute of limitations for abuse investigations.
Every piece of careless, sensational or irresponsible reporting empowers this backlash. Brick by brick it will – I guarantee this because I have lived through previous backlashes which did exactly this – dismantle the weak and inadequate defences which have been erected to protect children from sexual abuse.
I repeat: I don’t know if Ted Heath was a paedophile. I don’t know if he sexually abused children on Jersey or anywhere else. I do know that in 2013 I spent several days interviewing – on film – several genuine victims of sexual abuse in its care system, as well as Graham Power, the police chief who supported them (and who was essentially run off the island for his pains). Not one knew anything about Heath other than that he was rumoured to have regularly sailed to Jersey.
But neither does any other journalist know whether Heath had a sexual interest in children. Those who pronounce that they DO know and who thus seek to influence public opinion, on the basis of (at best) a single anonymous source are being grossly irresponsible.
Likewise those who – with nothing more than instinct or prejudice to support them – assert that Heath was unquestionably not a paedophile: it is wrong and playing with fire to denounce the perfectly proper police investigations into allegations against him.
Whichever side of the trenches in this war they fire from, pronouncements of definite guilt or absolute innocence are wild, dangerous and – above all – very bad journalism. Journalists need to recognise that what we publish can – and often does – have an effect on public policy. We do not have the right to dish out unchecked anonymous claims or prejudicial personal opinions and then shrug our shoulders when these cause harm.
As Ben Bradlee (allegedly) told Woodward & Bernstein when rejecting their story. “Get some harder information next time.””
Republished from TimTate.co.uk
Friday Night Song
Lenny Harper is concerned that the Edward Heath allegations could be used as a smokescreen to cover-up other allegations on Jersey
Reblogged from the excellent Rico Sorda Blog
Reblogged from the excellent Rico Sorda Blog
The Friday Night Song.
So, let me get this straight.
Well, that doesn’t sound dodgy in any way, does it ?
“As her barrister in the early 90s, I saw no evidence that the Filipino brothel madam ever accused the former Prime Minister of being a paedophile”
[Many thanks to RA for correction ;-) ]
It is normal procedure that a person whom the CPS have brought charges against should attend court and I think it is correct that Westminster Magistrates will compel Lord Janner to attend and hear the charges read out even if this is the only occasion that he does attend court. It is only right that Lord Janner be treated in exactly the same way anyone else would be.
There isn’t much more to add but I thought I’d just remark on what seems like a common misconception regarding the legal process that has now been embarked upon. There appears to be a presumption that there will be, what is known as, a ‘Trial of the Facts’. One small note of caution should be raised here. Although a ‘Trial of the Facts’ would appear to be the most likely outcome of the current legal process, it will be for the Judge when the case reaches a Crown Court to make the decision to have a ‘Trial of the Facts’ if Lord Janner is found to be unfit to plead. The controversy surrounding the original decision by DPP Alison Saunders not to proceed with a prosecution was that given the police evidence it was not her decision to make that Janner was unfit to plead but a Judge’s.
Though I believe this outcome would be extremely unlikely, it is possible that the trial Judge might come to the same conclusion as Alison Saunders had and decide that a ‘Trial of the Facts’ does not serve justice.
As I’ve written, I really do not think that a judge would come to that decision under the current circumstances as it would be vehemently criticised in many quarters, I only mention it as there seems to be a presumption that a ‘Trial of the Facts’ is inevitable when it is not necessarily the case and it is as important as it ever was that interested parties keep a very close eye on this process and presume nothing.
Lord Janner must appear at court in person for a hearing over child sex abuse charges, Westminster Magistrates’ Court has ruled.
The former Labour peer, 87, who has dementia, denies allegations of abuse in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
He did not attend court on Friday, and his defence said he was “unfit” to appear.
The case is likely to be sent to a crown court, which will decide whether Lord Janner is fit to face a trial.
The case comes after a review overturned a Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decision not to bring charges because of his health.
Written by journalist and filmmaker Tim Tate and reproduced in full with permission. Originally posted – timtate.co.uk
Over recent months two separate police forces have been carrying out enquiries into a snippet of 30-year-old gossip about a dead man. The Met and North Yorkshire Police have been interviewing people who, in the early to mid 1980s, heard a rumour that the then Home Secretary Leon Brittan had molested a young boy at a weekend retreat. I am one of them.
There are a number of oddities to this story, and, together with the rest of the strange saga of Leon Brittan, they shine a light on the frustratingly opaque progress of historic child sex abuse investigations. They also provide a litmus test for Lord Justice Goddard’s Independent panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.
The rumour first. In the early 1980s I was a researcher on Roger Cook’s BBC Radio 4 investigative programme, “Checkpoint”. The editor of the series had a source inside 10 Downing Street who was in the habit of passing on juicy titbits of scurrilous gossip about members of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet.
Why he did this was something of a mystery: “Checkpoint” was a fine programme, but it rarely strayed into political investigations. I never met the source, but according to our editor, he simply enjoyed gossiping over drinks at a private club both belonged to. To my knowledge, nothing had ever been done with the tittle-tattle he related.
The Brittan story, though, was different. According to the source, Brittan had been attending a weekend house party somewhere in North Yorkshire (he was initially MP for Cleveland & Whitby, then Richmond, N. Yorks): at some point he was supposed to have molested a young boy. Local police allegedly attended, but very quickly were ordered off the case by Special Branch officers. There were no details of where exactly this happened, nor what exactly Brittan was supposed to have done.
Despite the sketchy nature of the rumour – and perhaps because I still lived in Yorkshire and had some relevant police contacts – I was instructed by my editor and the BBC’s (then) assistant director-general, Alan Protheroe, to make some discreet enquiries.
Over several weeks I spoke to a succession of contacts within the police. All said they knew nothing. Finally, I approached an officer in the neighbouring West Yorkshire Police Special Branch with whom I had an occasional, if slightly uneasy, working relationship. He agreed – reluctantly – to make some enquiries: very quickly thereafter he told me he was not going to pursue them.
And there our own investigations stopped. We told Alan Protheroe that we could find no evidence to support the rumour and I went back to work on more regular “Checkpoint” stories.
We were not, of course, alone in hearing this rumour. Private Eye had also picked it up and subsequently ran a short piece suggesting that members of the security service were trying to smear Brittan with false child abuse allegations.
Over the next decades I made a succession of films and wrote a number of books, investigating child sexual abuse and paedophile networks. But I rarely gave any thought to the Brittan allegations until claims about paedophile parties at the Elm Guest House in south-west London surfaced in late 2013.
A report on the Exaro news website, repeated in national newspapers and over the internet, claimed a video tape had been seized by Operation Fairbank (later known as Fernbridge),the Metropolitan Police’s unit investigating allegations of historic “VIP” child sexual abuse. According to Exaro the tape showed a senior former Tory minister – plainly Brittan, though since he was still alive he was not named – in compromising circumstances at the guest house.
I had a contact in Operation Fernbridge, Immediately after the story appeared, I met up with him: he denied absolutely – and vehemently – that any such tape had been seized. But because no official denial was issued by New Scotland Yard, the story fed into the growing public rumour-mill about ‘paedophile politicians’.
Two further issues quickly emerged which further inflamed the mood. The first was the mystery over what had happened to a dossier given in 1984 to Leon Brittan (while he was Home Secretary) by a back-bench Conservative MP, Geoffrey Dickens. Newspapers at the time had reported that this dossier – which stemmed from Dickens’ earlier attempts to have the Paedophile Information Exchange proscribed – named a number of high-profile active child abusers.
In dealing with enquiries (in 2013) about what had happened to the Dickens material The Home Office did not exactly cover itself in glory: it initially claimed that it could not find 11 files, some of which included the dossier; then was forced (after a succession of Freedom of Information Act requests and demands by the Home Affairs Select Committee) to disclose that it had discovered the remnants of not 11, but 114 files relating to correspondence from Dickens or other MPs about alleged paedophiles and the prosecution of child sexual abuse.
The Home Office had also maintained in 2013 that the files themselves had been destroyed in line with “applicable document retention policies” at the time. Yet a year later it was forced to admit in response to my FOI request that it didn’t actually have a copy of this policy: it did not explain the apparent conflict between the absence of this policy and its previous assurance that the child abuse documents had been properly destroyed.
Leon Brittan, for his part, was initially unable to recall the Dickens’ dossier before later remembering that he had passed it on to his officials who had in turn discussed it with the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The second incident was a story in the Express and on the Exaro News website alleging that in 1982 a Customs Office called Maganlal Solanki had seized child pornography films or videotapes sent or brought to the UK by Russell Tricker, a convicted British paedophile living in Amsterdam: one of these allegedly showed a former Tory cabinet minister sexually abusing children. Once again, Brittan was not named, but there were clear hints in the stories that he was the politician in question (in 1982 he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury).
Mr Solanki had unquestionably seized the tapes and films referred to. An official 1982 notice in the London Gazette recorded the seizure and his name was shown as the Customs officer responsible.
This did not specify the exact nature of the material – child pornography was then not legally defined, nor indeed was simple possession of it specifically illegal: the notice simply stated that the films and tape were indecent. Crucially, though, it listed the title of the video as “LB”. [Note: in the 1980s there was a commercially-produced series of child pornography films entitled “Loverboys”.]
The coincidence of these initials with those of Leon Brittan led the Express reporter to doorstep Mr Solanki at his home in Leicester. The reporter recorded the conversation. The Express and Exaro claimed that during the interview the now-retired Customs officer confirmed clearly that the seized material showed the politician sexually abusing children.
I obtained a copy of the recording and transcribed it. Far from confirming the Express/Exaro claims, this clearly showed that Mr Solanki had repeatedly refused to confirm the reporter’s allegations that Leon Brittan was shown on the tapes. The most he appeared to concede was that the ex-minister was “involved” somehow with a tape: but he made clear that he was not at liberty to talk and told the reporter to speak to H.M. Customs.
However, the story had another twist in it. In April 2014 I met with the senior Operation Fernbridge detective with whom I had previously spoken. Over the course of a two hour, off the record interview he told me that his officers had also interviewed Mr Solanki. The former Customs officer had, according to the detective, insisted that he couldn’t remember anything about the 1982 Tricker seizure – much less having viewed the tape and films. (Mr Solanki is in his 80s and somewhat infirm).
But what he said next was even more potentially explosive. He told the officers that he clearly remembered stopping Leon Brittan on another occasion – he could not recall the year, but it was at some point in the 1980s – when the politician came into the port of Dover from Europe. Mr Solanki recalled that he was on normal duty, working in a two-person team with another officer. Mr Solanki observed the driver of a car behaving suspiciously: he pulled it over and the two officers discovered video tapes inside. Mr Solanki told the Fernbridge detectives that he took the tapes away to his office, viewed them and saw that they were child pornography. The detectives asked what exactly was on the tapes: Mr Solanki was embarrassed, but said they depicted boys and girls, clearly under 12, having sex with each other.
How, the detectives asked, did he know the man he stopped was Leon Brittan ? Mr Solanki explained that he had asked to see the man’s passport. Additionally, Brittan had described himself as “an MEP”.
This posed a problem. Leon Brittan was never an MEP. He went from being a government minister to the backbenches following the Westland Affair, before being knighted and appointed European Commissioner For Competition in 1989. The detectives eventually decided that Mr Solanki was telling the truth as he recalled it, but that he had most likely misheard (or misremembered) the phrase “MEP”, when in fact Brittan had said “MP”.
Mr Solanki also told the detectives that he had seized the tapes, sent Brittan on his way and referred the incident to his superiors. He indicated that the videotape seizure would have been recorded in the log book kept by Customs officers at Dover. The senior Fernbridge detective was making plans to look for these when we spoke. He was also trying to locate the date on which – according to vaguely remembered details – late one evening in the 1980s the Westminster press lobby gathered, at short notice, outside Downing Street, apparently having been briefed to expect an announcement concerning Leon Brittan.
Meanwhile, he was simultaneously following another two lines of investigation concerning Brittan and child sexual abuse. The first was the old rumour about him molesting a boy at the weekend house party. In the intervening years, the incident now had two separate alleged locations: North Yorkshire and London. But Operation Fernbridge had been unable to trace anyone who had any first hand knowledge: most importantly no alleged victim could be found in either place, and the detective now believed that the story was something of an urban myth which had probably arisen out of the mysterious late-night gathering of press in Downing Street.
The second lead was very much firmer – and very much more disturbing. It involved Elm Guest House in south-west London. In 1982 the Metropolitan Police had raided the guest house believing – correctly – that it was being used for (adult) male prostitution. The officer in charge of the raid had alerted the local social services department that there was a possibility at least one child might be on the premises and that, if so, a social worker and a temporary place of safety would be needed.
The police did indeed find one child – a boy of around eight years old – in the guest house. He was taken to a local children’s home and, according to a document the Fernbridge detective found in the council archives, was jointly interviewed by a detective constable and a social worker.
Fernbridge tracked down the (now-retired) officer in question. He was interviewed and described the boy as being the most sexualised child he had ever seen. He also said that the boy described being sodomised by nine adult men at the guest house, but seemed somewhat surprised that the police were concerned. He told his interviewers that “Uncle Leon” would take care of the problem, and that “Uncle Leon” worked up at “the big house”. The former officer said he had understood this to be a reference to Parliament and had realised that Uncle Leon was probably Leon Brittan.
All of this should have been recorded in a statement. But the Fernbridge team was surprised to discover that although a statement of sorts did exist, it was not signed by the boy; nor did it make any mention of “Uncle Leon”. They questioned the retired constable: he explained that it was late at night when the boy was questioned and he had taken a joint decision with the social worker that the statement could be signed after the boy had got some sleep. But next morning the boy had “acted out” and refused to sign.
The Fernbridge officers also questioned the retired officer about why he hadn’t recorded the “Uncle Leon” information in the (unsigned) statement: he then apparently became uncooperative, giving the distinct impression that he was concerned about either disciplinary proceedings or a potential threat to his police pension.
Fernbridge went on to track down the boy – now a man in his early 40s and living in America. A US Marshall, previously on secondment to the Metropolitan Police, went to see him. Although the man initially seemed willing to speak, he later refused to do so.
Shortly after the Fernbridge detective gave me the above information, he left the unit. I have not spoken with him since and do not know whether he was ever able to progress the investigations into Leon Brittan.
What I do know is that he was absolutely convinced that there was prime facie evidence that Brittan had a sexual interest in children; and that – unless he was lying to me (which I doubt) – Operation Fernbridge holds documentary evidence suggesting that Brittan was involved in either the attempted importation of child pornography, or the sexual abuse of a young boy. Or both.
In November 2014 a separate Metropolitan Police investigation – Operation Midland – was established to examine claims of historical child sex abuse and murder at the Dolphin Square apartment block near Westminster. Exaro News claimed the credit for this, alleging that its reporting of allegations by two men it called “Nick” and “Darren” had forced the Met to open the inquiry. The men claimed that their abusers had included two former Conservative MPs, one of them a former Cabinet Minister.
Leon Brittan (who had been ennobled as Baron Brittan of Spennithorne in 2000) died in January this year. Within a week Exaro named him as the former Cabinet Minister being investigated by Operation Midland.
In February, the Sunday Times columnist Dominic Lawson (son of former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson) defended his father’s former Cabinet colleague. He attacked the Exaro allegations as part of what he saw as a long-standing campaign by “foil-hatted conspiracy theorists who see the Palace of Westminster as nothing other than a cover for satanic rituals”.
The thrust of Lawson’s attack – that irresponsible reporting of anonymous allegations was tarnishing the names of dead men whom he simply presumed to be honourable – was given more life than it deserved by Exaro’s involvement in an Australian television programme in July. Whilst it unquestionably raised the profile of the story internationally, the 60 Minutes Special presented the claims by Exaro’s stable of complainants as established facts rather than allegations under police investigation. It named Leon Brittan as an abuser.
I have no means of knowing whether the claims by “Nick”, “Darren” and the other complainants whose cause Exaro has promoted are accurate. They are very serious allegations and are rightly being examined by the Met. But in so far as they relate to Leon Brittan, this police investigation poses a problem.
Because Brittan passed away in January this year, there can be no criminal proceedings. Therefore none of the evidence being collected by Operation Midland – nor the documentary evidence already held by Operation Fernbridge (let alone the enquiries still being made by North Yorkshire and Scotland Yard detectives into the mysterious house party rumour) – will ever be produced in court.
There is only one forum now in which the allegations about Leon Brittan can publicly be examined: Lord Justice Goddard’s Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.
This week I formally asked the Inquiry’s press office the following questions:
The Inquiry has yet to provide a response.
The long, strange saga of Leon Brittan is a litmus test of how rigorous and open Lord Justice Godard’s enquiry intends be. The enquiry must summons – as it has the power to do – Mr. Solanki and the officers from operation Fernbridge to give evidence on oath. It must also obtain all the statements taken by Fernbridge which relate to Brittan.
Leon Brittan was no obscure politician or ordinary Cabinet Minister. For more than two years he occupied one of the three great offices of state: Home Secretary. Unquestionably, he should have been subjected to positive vetting by MI5 before being appointed: Goddard must insist on seeing those vetting reports. She must also discover what, if any, subsequent vetting took place before David Cameron appointed Brittan as a trade advisor in 2010.
And, just as crucially, she must reveal all of this evidence to the public which is, after all, paying for the Inquiry.
There remain, too, legitimate and unanswered questions about Brittan’s opposition to proscribing the Paedophile Information Exchange (and indeed about PIE’s alleged involvement with the Home Office itself while he was a Minister Of State there between 1979 and 1981).
The announcement last week that further (and previously undisclosed) Cabinet papers from the era had been located and in some unspecified way referred to Brittan, make it even more vital for the Inquiry to examine – publicly – the claims that the former Home Secretary was involved in the sexual abuse of children.
If it does not, then the public will have every right to doubt the integrity of the Goddard enquiry – and to question why substantial sums of public money are being devoted to a series of police investigations which will never see the light of day.
And rightly or wrongly the as yet unproven allegations of an overarching Westminster plot to protect a powerful paedophile politician will become entrenched in the public mind as unchallenged fact.
Wiltshire police have said;
Supt Sean Memory spoke on Monday about claims made by a former senior officer in Wiltshire that the threat of Heath being named in connection with child sexual abuse led to a prosecution being dropped against another man.
Speaking outside Heath’s former home, Memory said: “The allegation is that a trial was due to take place in the 1990s and information was received in that trial that Sir Ted Heath was involved in the abuse of children and the allegation is from the result of that information that the trial never took place.
“A retired senior police officer has come forward towards the end of 2014 indicating that they were aware of this information.
The Mirror elaborate;
A brothel keeper is at the centre of a police probe into claims former Prime Minister Ted Heath was a paedophile.
The madam, believed to have been arrested in the 1990s for running a secret sex den, told detectives she would stand up in court and reveal lurid details of the Tory politician’s perverted sex life if she was ever charged with any offence.
The woman was due to stand trial but senior officers at Wiltshire Police are believed to have intervened and immediately dropped the case against her.
The astonishing revelations emerged after a retired senior detective came forward in June 2014 to claim the allegations against Heath were never investigated to protect the ex-PM.