Angell Road Home, Stockwell, Lambeth
Operation Trawler, Operation Middleton, Operation Trinity.
Crack Scotland Yard Detective says top brass sabotaged his bid to expose Blair minister in Establishment paedophile ring
- Detectives identified 12 suspected abusers operating in children’s homes
- The 1998 list included a minister in Tony Blair’s government and a celebrity
- Inspector Clive Driscoll was moved off case and transferred to a new area
- He was told of ‘orders from on high’ before investigation was shut down
By GUY ADAMS FOR THE DAILY MAIL
One November day in 1998, a group of officials from Lambeth Council found themselves in an upstairs meeting room at Mary Seacole House, a concrete office block in South London.
It was the end of a lengthy business meeting. And they were sitting in stunned silence.
The reason? A few moments earlier, a local police inspector had just delivered several pieces of earth-shattering news.
First, he revealed that detectives working on Operation Trawler, an investigation into a paedophile ring suspected of operating in the London borough’s children’s homes, were focusing their inquiries on 12 potential abusers.
Second, he was prepared to name these people. Third, it contained the names of several high-profile members of the Establishment.
On condition of confidentiality, the policeman read out a list of the people his team was pursuing.
One was a Lambeth councillor. Another was a household-name celebrity. A third, perhaps most explosively, was a minister in Tony Blair’s government.
‘These are all only suspects at this stage,’ the policeman said, bullishly. ‘But I have reason to believe that further investigation will produce evidence that I can use to pursue court cases.’
In the room in Clapham High Street there was a sharp intake of breath. Labour-run Lambeth was no stranger to ugly headlines. For almost two decades, its name had been a byword for corruption, incompetence, and loony-Left political dysfunction.
Since the Eighties — when, under the Trotskyite leadership of ‘Red’ Ted Knight, it was dubbed Britain’s worst-run local authority — the Town Hall had spawned a series of criminal investigations and public inquiries, involving everything from fraud and blackmail to Mafia-style racketeering.
Blair government was briefed about police paedophile probe involving Labour minister BEFORE it was halted
19:55, 23 JULY 2015
BY TOM PETTIFOR
The Daily Mirror has now obtained documents which prove that a police probe was being monitored by minister’s before it was stopped
Tony Blair’s government was briefed about a paedophile investigation in which a minister was a suspect before it was halted, previously secret documents reveal.
Scotland Yard’s anti-corruption command are investigating claims that evidence the minister was part of a paedophile ring in Lambeth, South London, in the 1980s was covered up.
Retired detective Clive Driscoll says he was stopped from investigating the Labour star in 1998 after he named the politician as a suspect.
The Daily Mirror has now obtained papers which prove for the first time that Mr Driscoll’s children’s home probe was being monitored by senior civil servants and ministers before it was halted.
They include briefings written for the Blair administration just hours after the detective allegedly first named the minister as a suspect.
The officer was removed from the investigation three months later.
The probe was centered around Angell Road care home in Brixton
The papers have been handed to anti-corruption detectives investigating the alleged cover up which is believed to be among 17 cases that were referred to the police watchdog in April.
The 111 pages of documents makes no mention of the minister being under suspicion while former members of the Blair government and the inspector who helped write some of the documents deny ever being told.
Nigel Goldie, a former council boss involved in the 1998 children’s home probe in Lambeth, south London, said after we handed him the papers: “I had a discussion with the government inspector about how we were going to handle this because of the huge political implications of a serving minister being investigated on suspicion of child sex offences.
“Understandably they said they would pass it up the management line.
“But the documents make no mention of this.
This document shows ministers were briefed about the probe. SoS was the Secretary of State Frank Dobson while the Ps (c) was the Private secretary (communities) who was Paul Boateng.
“Anything that was said would appear to have been ‘off record’. The people involved have to come out and be open and answer questions about what occurred.”
Mr Driscoll was removed from the Lambeth investigation, codenamed Operation Trawler, in November 1998.
Mr Driscoll said after we handed him the documents: “I was surprised to see no mention of the briefing I gave at the request of the SSI to Mr Nigel Goldie and the SSI inspector.
“I outlined the allegations and concerns made by witnesses about the suspects.”
The inspector who helped write some of the reports, their former bosses at the watchdog the Social Services Inspectorate (SSI) and former health ministers Paul Boateng, John Hutton and Frank Dobson have either denied being told or said they have no recollection of a minister being a suspect.
The papers were released by the Department of Health and Care Quality Commission following Freedom of Information requests by the Mirror.
The anti-corruption investigation is focusing on a crucial meeting that occurred in the offices of Lambeth social services on the sixth floor of Mary Seacole House in Clapham on August 28, 1998.
Mr Driscoll and Mr Goldie say it was the first time the SSI inspector was told about the Labour star being in the frame.
A memo written later that day based on information provided by the inspector is marked with a handwritten note stating Mr Boateng and their then boss, the Secretary of State for Health, Frank Dobson, had been briefed.
Mr Driscoll began investigating when Lambeth children’s home boss Michael John Carroll, now aged 66, was arrested in June 1998 over child sex offences.
The detective soon traced two people who said the Blair minister and Carroll, known as John, had been friends.
A memo showed that former health minister Frank Dobson had been briefed about the probe.
A social worker said the Labour politician had made evening visits to Carroll’s Angell Road care home in Brixton in the 1980s while a youth worker said he had witnessed the pair on caravan holidays with vulnerable children.
A six page memo dated September 7, 1998, for Mr Boateng entitled “PAEDOPHILE INVESTIGATION – LAMBETH” stated that government inspectors would maintain “close contact” with detectives.
The document shows how closely the Blair administration was monitoring the police investigation, raising questions about what exactly was known.
The papers, released following Freedom of Information requests by the Mirror, also show that information was being passed to ministers verbally.
It is not clear if the dossier includes all written briefings for ministers.
Mr Boateng, now 63, was moved in late October 1998 to the Home Office as part of a reshuffle and was replaced by John Hutton.
Paul Boateng says he was not aware that any minister was under suspicion at the time
On November 5 the SSI inspector attended another meeting where the issue of the minister being investigated was allegedly discussed again and a report was prepared for Mr Hutton.
No mention is made of the minister.
Mr Driscoll was issued with disciplinary proceedings and removed from Lambeth later that month.
The case against him was eventually dropped.
Six months later the SSI informed Mr Dobson that Mr Boateng had been told before he left the department that he would be excluded from updates about the Lambeth investigation.
A confidential memo, written by SSI Chief Inspector Denise Platt, stated Mr Boateng was at the centre of a “perceived conflict of interest” because his wife Janet had been the chair of Lambeth social services during a period in the 1980s.
Ms Platt, who was made a Dame in 2004 and is currently a trustee of the NSPCC, has denied being told a minister was being investigated or being “involved in providing any briefings” to ministers about the Lambeth investigations in 1998.
This is contradicted by the documents which name her as having briefed ministers and produced documents for them.
Her former deputy Jo Cleary also declined to meet, saying when approached at her home: “I have signed the official secrets act.”
She said she had “no recollection” of a minister being a suspect.
The SSI inspector has not responded to emails and calls after meeting our reporter in November 2013. The inspector declined to comment when approached at home last December.
Mr Boateng said: “I was not aware that any serving Minister had at anytime come under suspicion in relation to child sex abuse at children’s homes in Lambeth.”
He added: “I had no knowledge of allegations relating to child sexual abuse in children’s homes in Lambeth other than in media reports of the period.
“The issue was raised with me at some time during our respective periods of office in the Department of Health by the then head of the SSI Denise Platt.
“This was in the context of the investigation into the activities of Mr Carroll and the circumstances of his employment by Lambeth Social Services.
“This occurred in the course of one of our regular meetings in my ministerial office in Richmond House.
“She raised the possibility of a conflict of interest as my wife had for a part of the period concerned been Chair of Social Services.
“I readily agreed that as a Minister I should play no part in the departmental handling of the matter.
“I had had no previous knowledge of any Departmental engagement.”
Mr Dobson said: “There is not a shred of evidence in any of that documentation that any information on a minister being involved came anywhere near me.
“If anybody had briefed me that there was a minister involved I would have got in touch with the police or the home secretary but I wasn’t given such a briefing.”
Mr Hutton has denied ever being told a minister was under suspicion.
Carroll was jailed in 1999 at Liverpool Crown Court for ten years.
Scotland Yard refused to answer a number of detailed questions from the Daily Mirror more than two years after launching an investigation into the alleged cover up.
Do you have information about children who were sexually abused in Angell Road or on caravan holidays with John Carroll in the 1980s?
Contact the Mirror on 0800 282 591 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Former Lambeth care home worker charged with child abuse
A 63-year-old former care worker has been charged with 15 sexual offences against boys under the age of 16 in the 1970s and 80s.
Leslie Paul, of Islington, north London, is accused of indecent assault, gross indecency, possessing an indecent image of a child and one offence of a serious sexual nature.
The offences are alleged to have taken place between 1979 and 1983.
Mr Paul was arrested on 13 March last year as part of Operation Trinity.
It started in November 2012 and aims to investigate allegations of abuse within the borough of Lambeth prior to 1998.
Paedo MP cover-up claim: Top cop removed from sex abuse probe after naming politicians as suspects
26 Mar 2013
The officer suddenly found himself booted off the case and put on a disciplinary after revealing politicians were among the suspects
Axed: DCI Clive Driscoll
Tasked with flushing out paedophiles preying on vulnerable youngsters at children’s homes, Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll relished the challenge.
But the officer suddenly found himself booted off the case and put on a disciplinary after revealing politicians were named among the suspects.
At least one of the figures is understood to have been an MP.
And former Labour councillor Anna Tapsell claims she was visited by a police chief to “warn her off” after she raised concerns that detectives would not properly investigate allegations of paedophile activity in care homes.
Mr Driscoll launched his probe into child sex abuse claims in the South London borough of Lambeth in 1998.
But he claims Scotland Yard began meddling as soon as the politicians were named.
The officer, now spearheading the fresh investigation into teenager Stephen Lawrence’s murder, said: “I was unhappy with the interference of some senior officers who did not appear to have a logical connection to my investigation into child sex abuse in Lambeth.
“There were allegations made by several people that named politicians had been involved but I never had a chance to investigate them because I was moved before I could do so.”
Asked if there was a cover-up of child sexual abuse in Lambeth by Scotland Yard, he said: “You would need an investigation to establish that.”
And asked if it was true that a file of evidence naming politicians as suspects and others was lost, he replied: “I handed the file to an officer and I have no knowledge where it went after that.”
Mr Driscoll was yesterday supported by Ms Tapsell, a chairwoman of Lambeth’s social services committee who has highlighted sexual abuse of children in the borough’s care for more than two decades.
She said: “When I learned that Clive was being removed, not only from the case but also from Lambeth, I realised that the Met were caving in to political pressure that was far more powerful than Lambeth Council.
“I was aware of allegations about an MP and the Met’s failure to act on those allegations and its apparent desire to silence those who called for them to be investigated fully was deeply shocking to me.
“Council employees who tried to expose staff they suspected of sexual abuse were sidelined and ignored.
“At the same time alleged perpetrators were moved or allowed to leave for financial misconduct or other misdemeanours, instead of for the abuse.
“This meant many children never received the justice they deserved.”
Former kids’ home: Now a private residence
After Mr Driscoll’s removal, Ms Tapsell told how she raised fears about the depth of the investigation into sex abuse claims at Brixton’s Angell Road children’s home and South Vale youth assessment centre in West Norwood during a meeting of the Community Police Consultative Group.She alleges a high-ranking officer later arrived at her home.
Ms Tapsell added: “I doubt whether I was the only person to be visited by a senior police officer in an attempt to warn me off.
“I had cast doubt on the Met’s inclination to get to the bottom of the paedophile activity within Lambeth’s care system.
“It had outraged a high ranking officer who had spoken at that meeting. That resulted in an unpleasant visit to my home by another senior officer.
“I have found the minutes of that meeting in the archives of Lambeth’s CPCG but no mention is made of the high-ranking officer’s contribution and the tape recording is also missing.”
Labour MP John Mann, a former Lambeth councillor, said last night: “It is essential that an outside force conducts a full investigation into these claims.”
Mr Driscoll, who has had a distinguished career in the Met for three decades, told how disciplinary proceedings – known as a regulation 15 notice or a 163 form – were started against him after he named the politicians in a confidential meeting with council officials in the late 90s.
He said the action followed a complaint by an executive on the council. The officer was also moved from Lambeth.
The detective was investigated and questioned under caution by other officers.
Mr Driscoll added: “I was handed a 163 form. It was revoked after they moved me and all disciplinary action was dropped.”
The Met set up a five year investigation into sexual abuse linked to Lambeth social care called Operation Middleton.
It was a joint probe with the council and was based in the town hall, leading to criticism that the Met were working too closely with the organisation that had employed abusers.
Officers traced 200 victims between 1998 to 2003 and the probe secured three convictions.
A total of 19 suspects were never identified, fuelling fears a paedophile ring had operated involving men from outside the care system.
Michael John Carroll, the former boss of the Angell Road home, was arrested in 1998 by Merseyside police for abuse spanning decades.
By that time Ms Tapsell had spent more than 10 years highlighting his case after she discovered Lambeth bosses let him run children’s homes until 1991 despite executives learning in 1986 he was a convicted paedophile.
In 1994, she wrote to Elizabeth Appleby QC, who had been commissioned to head a probe into sex abuse and misconduct in the borough.
Ms Tapsell told the judge that Carroll, who had not at that point been arrested, was “protected” by Lambeth social services bosses along with paedophile Les Paul who worked in South Vale.
Paul was jailed for two and a half years in 1994 for abusing three boys including one from the children’s home.
Ms Tapsell wrote: “Les Paul took little boys home and on holiday, just as Carroll did with the full knowledge of area staff. The examples are numerous.
“Almost all the internal abuse issues have involved collusion across divisions.
“I have no doubt Angell Road may have been used for organised child abuse which involved adults other than staff.
“This view is reinforced by the strong investment that officers and politicians have in blocking any effective investigation.”
Ms Appleby declined to comment.
Clare Whelan, a Lambeth Tory councillor since 1990, claims she was repeatedly ignored by police when she tried to highlight the Carroll case.
She added: “I was never confident that it was all properly investigated.
“It took far too long for police to investigate and I had to see three sets of officers before they did anything. Even then they did not do anything really.”
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “We are unable to comment on detailed allegations at this time without the opportunity to research these allegations.
“However, if any new evidence should come to light it will be investigated.”
* If you are an adult who suffered child abuse and want professional help call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, email email@example.com text 88858.
Distinguished detective who snared Stephen Lawrence killers
Clive Driscoll has enjoyed a distinguished 34-year career as a police officer.
The widely-respected detective helped restore the Metropolitan Police’s damaged name with his successful probe into two of Stephen Lawrence’s killers.
Dad Neville Lawrence backed the officer in 2012 after Gary Dobson and David Norris were convicted of Stephen’s 1993 murder.
Mr Lawrence said: “He seemed committed and confident. That’s all I need to know, that you believe in what you’re doing.”
Mr Driscoll started his career as a PC at Sutton in South London before being promoted to detective sergeant in Brixton in 1987.
He was later transferred to Scotland Yard and put in charge of policy for sexual offences, domestic violence, child protection and the paedophile unit.
He returned to South London to work in child protection before being promoted to detective chief inspector on the racial and violent crime taskforce in Fulham in 2003.
He was then appointed senior investigating officer in Operation Fishpool, the re-investigation into Stephen’s murder.
After a jury finally convicted Gary Dobson and David Norris, Mr Driscoll said: “It has been a joy and a privilege to work with the Lawrences.
“They are happy. I always said I wanted to get it to a jury. We’ve done our very best.”
Lambeth launches abuse inquiry
AN URGENT inquiry is being launched today to examine alarming and wide-ranging allegations of child abuse in care homes in south London. The inquiry is being carried out by Lambeth Borough Council and will focus at first on the revelation that a young boy was raped at one of the borough’s care homes by a residential worker who later died of an Aids-related illness.
The child, who cannot be identified, was six years old at the time of the attack, which took place 11 years ago at the Angell Road Children’s Home in Brixton.
The home has since closed down as part of Lambeth’s drive to replace such establishments with foster parents, private and voluntary care homes.
Lambeth Council admitted yesterday that it expected many more incidents of abuse relating to its homes to come to light during the inquiry, which could take up to two years to complete.
“It is impossible to say how many children were involved but it could be an awful lot,” said a spokeswoman. She said people would only know the true extent of the damage done when the inquiry reported its findings. In a statement the council added that it was “absolutely determined to uncover any abuse that took place in the past”.
The leader of the inquiry will be announced today and the early part of the proceedings will focus on the abuse at the Angell Road home. The victim is now 17 and has made statements to the police. His mother is reported as saying he has refused to take a blood test to establish whether he has contracted the Aids virus. She could not be contacted yesterday.
The abuser has been named as Steve Forrest, a residential social worker who died in 1992 after contracting HIV. He certainly had contact with many other children and the council fears he may have abused them too.
A former child protection social worker in Lambeth who remembered the Angell Road home spoke to The Independent yesterday and described conditions there and in other homes now closed.
“They were horrifying places. You never knew who was doing the abuse but there was always someone involved. For some kids once they got to the children’s home they were in trouble,” he said.
“I understand Lambeth have done a lot recently to improve matters by getting rid of these homes.”
Lambeth closed all its homes in 1994. If the Lambeth inquiry does reveal a substantial history of abuse in the borough’s care homes, it will be another area to shade in on the darkening map of child abuse in the UK.
“Paedophile network abused more than 200 children. Operation Middleton, Lambeth.