David Blankett was sent a letter containing allegations of abuse at Elm Guest House
He was sent a letter 12 years ago by a whistle-blowing trade union official, who made a string of allegations of abuse in the London borough of Richmond-upon-Thames.
One of the claims contained in his correspondence, dated November 15, 2002, raises concerns about a “brothel on Rocks Lane”, a reference to the Elm Guest House in Barnes, south-west London, where it has been alleged children in care were abused by a VIP paedophile ring during the 1980s.
Mr Blunkett replied personally and said he was passing the information on to the Home Office, which responded three weeks later to say it was referring the matter to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
A policy adviser working under the then Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott urged the trade unionist, who has asked to remain anonymous, to send his complaints about Richmond council to the Local Government Ombudsman.
He did so and in a letter sent on February 23, 2003, he told the Ombudsman that children were being “procured to work in a brothel where ex-ministers and others visited”.
Assistant Director David Connolly wrote back to say the claims would have to be dealt with by the police.
The source, who had learned of the allegations through his work, said he went on to tell the police but nothing appeared to be done. He gave the chain of letters to the Sunday Express to show how his information was passed from one Government department to another.
It was more than a decade later before the Metropolitan Police began a full investigation last February.
Elm Guest House in this street in Barnes, south-west London, was alleged to be a brothel
I tried to raise the alarm over and over again but there seemed to be a culture of passing the buck
Those said to have abused young boys in the eight-bedroom Edwardian guest house in the early 1980s include Liberal Democrat Cyril Smith, Soviet spy Anthony Blunt and former British diplomat Sir Peter Hayman. Several Conservative MPs, judges and pop stars were also linked to the scandal.
The whistleblower said: “I tried to raise the alarm over and over again but there seemed to be a culture of passing the buck.”
A spokeswoman for Mr Blunkett said the Sheffield Labour MP regretted that the accusations were never followed up but that he had not only acknowledged the complainant’s letter personally in November 2002 but also ensured that “those departments which held responsibility were properly informed”.
She said Mr Blunkett’s view was that dealing with the complaints was made “extremely difficult” because the complainant did not wish any material to reach Richmond council or to be identified.
A spokesman for Lord Prescott said he was never notified personally about the claims.
The Home Office last night admitted mistakes had been made, saying: “We must learn the lessons.”
A spokesman for the Local Government Ombudsman said the department no longer had records of the case but added: “It appears the Ombudsman at that time agreed the LGO would not be the appropriate body to deal with the issues.”
Richmond council said it was unable to respond to the claims directly because of the police investigation.