Government ‘gave money to child sex ring in 70s’: Home Office has ordered an investigation into shocking allegations
- Government allegedly gave tens of thousands of pounds to Paedophile Information Exchange, which openly campaigned to legalise child sex
- Extraordinary move triggered by Permanent Secretary Mark Sedwill
- Labour MP Tom Watson says retired Home Office employee told him he had raised concerns in 70s about funding, but was warned to drop matter
The investigation was triggered by the Home Office’s Permanent Secretary Mark Sedwill
The head of the Home Office has ordered an investigation into shocking allegations that the Government gave tens of thousands of pounds to a notorious paedophile group.
Civil servants are trawling through decades’ worth of files to look for any evidence that the Home Office once funded the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), which openly campaigned to legalise child sex.
The extraordinary move has been triggered by Permanent Secretary Mark Sedwill following claims by an ‘insider’ that the Voluntary Services Unit (VSU), which gave annual grants totalling thousands of pounds to charities, had provided financial assistance to the network of abusers.
Labour MP Tom Watson says a retired Home Office employee told him he had raised concerns in the 1970s about the funding, but was warned to drop the matter.
Mr Watson told The Mail on Sunday last night: ‘We are lifting the lid on a murky period in political history. It feels as if we are getting closer to getting the answers that many people have been looking for for a long time.
‘People will be astounded if we discover that a Government of any political hue was funding the PIE.’
A spokesman for the Home Office confirmed: ‘We are aware of the allegations and the Permanent Secretary has commissioned a thorough, independent investigation into what funding the VSU previously provided.’
It is hoped the inquiry will finally uncover the truth about the links between paedophiles and the State following almost 40 years of claims of an establishment cover-up.
Civil servants are trawling through decades’ worth of files to look for any evidence that the Home Office once funded the Paedophile Information Exchange
PIE was formed in the early 1970s and openly called for the age of consent to be lowered to four, despite public outrage. In 1976 morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse accused a gay charity that did receive Government grants, the Albany Trust, of helping fund PIE, but this was denied at the time.
A one time chairman of PIE, Steven Smith, worked as a heating and lighting engineer at the Home Office’s headquarters in Whitehall until he was exposed by a Sunday newspaper in 1982. He went on the run but was jailed for possessing 3,000 drawings of child abuse two years ago.
Tom Watson says a retired Home Office employee told him he had raised concerns in the 1970s about the funding, but was warned to drop the matter
After a PIE leader Tom O’Carroll was jailed in 1981 it emerged that a retired diplomat, Sir Peter Hayman, had been a supporter of the network and police had discovered his collection of obscene diaries but decided not to prosecute him. The MP who exposed him, Geoffrey Dickens, also handed three dossiers on PIE and alleged child abusers to the Home Office and the Director of Public Prosecutions but it is claimed they were ignored.
Following calls by child protection campaigners, an independent review was held in February this year of all Home Office files from 1979 to 1999 to ‘identify any information received about organised child abuse’. Led by an HMRC investigator, it examined 746,000 files and identified ‘13 items of information about alleged child abuse, including four cases involving Home Office staff’.
These four workers were all dismissed between 1996 and 1998, recent Freedom of Information documents state, but no evidence was found of links between them or use of ‘Home Office equipment or facilities’.
The review concluded that the Home Office ‘did pass on to the appropriate authorities’ all the information it received about child abuse, as well as taking action against suspected staff.
Whitehall sources said the new review was at an early stage.