EXCLUSIVE: Secret service infiltrated paedophile group to ‘blackmail establishment’
BRITISH security services infiltrated and funded the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange in a covert operation to identify and possibly blackmail establishment figures, a Home Office whistleblower alleges.
Published: Sun, June 29, 2014
The former civil servant has told detectives investigating the activities of paedophiles in national politics that the Metropolitan Police’s Special Branch was orchestrating the child-sex lobbying group in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The whistleblower, who has spoken exclusively to the Sunday Express, says he was also warned off asking why such a notorious group was being handed government money.
It emerged late last year that PIE was twice gave amounts of £35,000 in Home Office funding between 1977 and 1980, the £70,000 total equivalent to over £400,000 in today’s money.
Those details surfaced only after the whistleblower highlighted his concerns to campaigning Labour MP Tom Watson and his revelations have triggered an ongoing Home Office inquiry into why the cash was given to PIE which was abolished in 1985 after a number of prosecutions.
Until now, speculation about the grant has centred on Clifford Hindley, the late Home Office manager who approved the payments. However, the whistleblower told the Sunday Express he thought higher and more sinister powers were at play.
He has given a formal statement to that effect to detectives from Operation Fernbridge, which is looking into allegations of historic sex abuse at the Elm Guest House in south-west London.
At that time, questioning anything to do with Special Branch, especially within the Home Office, was a ‘no-no’.
PIE, now considered one of the most notorious groups of the era, had gained respectability in political circles. Its members are said to have included establishment figures, and disgraced Liberal MP Cyril Smith was a friend of founder member Peter Righton.
In 1981, Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens used Parliamentary privilege to name Sir Peter Hayman, the deputy director of MI6, as a member of PIE and an active paedophile. In 1983 Mr Dickens gave the Home Office a dossier of what he claimed was evidence of a paedophile network of “big, big names, people in positions of power, influence and responsibility”. The Home Office says the dossier no longer exists.
Whistleblower Mr X, whose identity we have agreed to protect, became a very senior figure in local government before retiring a few years ago. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he was a full-time consultant in the Home Office’s Voluntary Services Unit run by Clifford Hindley.
In 1979 Mr X was asked to examine a funding renewal application for PIE, but he became concerned because the organisation’s goal of seeking to abolish the age of consent “conflicted” with the child protection policies of the Department of Health and Social Security and asked for a meeting with Mr Hindley, his immediate boss.
Mr X recalled: “I raised my concerns, but he told me that I was to drop them. Hindley gave three reasons for this. He said PIE was an organisation with cachet and that its work in this field was respected.
“He said this was a renewal of an existing grant and that under normal Home Office practice a consultant such as myself would not be involved in the decision-making process.
“And he said PIE was being funded at the request of Special Branch which found it politically useful to identify people who were paedophiles. This led me not to pursue my objections. At that time, questioning anything to do with Special Branch, especially within the Home Office, was a ‘no-no’.
“I was under the clear belief that I was being instructed to back off and that his reference to Special Branch was expected to make me to do so.
“Hindley didn’t give me an explicit explanation of what Special Branch would do with information it gleaned from funding PIE, but I formed the belief that it was part of an undercover operation or activity. I was aware a lot of people in the civil service or political arena had an interest in obtaining information like that which could be used as a sort of blackmail.”
He said he asked for a file the Home Office kept on PIE, but his request was refused. However, he was certain then Tory Home Office Minister Tim Raison, who died in 2011, must have signed the 1980 funding application.
Mr X has given a formal written statement to the inquiry set up last year into former Home Office links with PIE but has refused to meet the inquiry in person because he fears “repercussions” under the Official Secrets Act.
Yesterday Tom Watson said: “The whole sorry business makes it absolutely imperative the Home Secretary bows to the will of the 114 MPs demanding a full, fearless public investigation into child sexual abuse.”
Special Branch was an integral part of the intelligence service gathering intelligence on spies and political threats to the state. In 2005 it merged with the anti-terrorism branch to form a Counter Terrorism Command.