Abuse investigation dropped 'when MP swore he was not a paedophile'

An investigation into claims made in the 1980s that an MP had a “penchant for small boys” ended when he gave his word that he was not a paedophile, according to a review of newly discovered government papers.

Peter Wanless, head of the NSPCC, and Richard Whittam QC, reported last year that there was no evidence the Government destroyed documents about an alleged establishment paedophile ring.

However, the Cabinet Office only belatedly discovered a number of other relevant documents, which have now been considered.

Mr Wanless and Mr Whittam said they found no suggestion of a Whitehall cover-up in the new material, but said the discovery of the files “illustrate[s] the merit of a broader search of potentially relevant material both on and off the system”.

However the papers were a “striking example” of how crimes against children were treated much less seriously than they would be now.

The investigators cited a document written in November 1986 about an unnamed MP accused by two sources of having a “penchant for small boys”, from the then head of MI5, Sir Antony Duff, to Sir Robert Armstrong, then Secretary of the Cabinet under Margaret Thatcher.

Sir Antony wrote: “At the present stage... the risks of political embarrassment to the Government is rather greater than the security danger.”

Mr Wanless and Mr Whittam said in a supplementary note to their formal report that “the risk to children is not considered at all”.

The newly discovered documents also refer to former Home Secretary Leon Brittan, Baroness Thatcher’s former parliamentary secretary Sir Peter Morrison, former diplomat Sir Peter Hayman and former minister Sir William van Straubenzee. All four men are dead.

It is not known what the documents say about the four men, but they will likely be considered by The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse under Justice Lowell Goddard.

More: The top officials in abuse scandal still working in child safety today

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)