Westminster child abuse claims: what do we know?
- The Guardian, Wednesday 19 November 2014 13.39 GMT
What do we know about politicians and child abuse at Westminster?
A number of allegations have been made. So far the only politician to have been implicated is the Liberal MP Cyril Smith, who died in 2010, but other unnamed politicians were also alleged to have been involved in a Westminster paedophile ring. Smith is alleged to have abused boys at Knowl View residential school in Rochdale and at Elm Guest House, in Barnes in south-west London, in the 1970s and 80s. Greater Manchester police are investigating allegations of abuse by Smith at Knowl View, where Smith was a governor. Other MPs were said to have attended the Elm Guest House. After claims made by the Labour MP Tom Watson in 2012, the Metropolitan police launched Operation Fairbank into child abuse at the guesthouse. Watson said there was “clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and No 10”.
A dossier of evidence of an alleged paedophile ring, involving several MPs, including Smith, and other public figures, was handed to the Home Office in 1983, by the Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens, who died in 1995. The 40-page dossier has since been destroyed or lost, according to a Home Office review. The Crown Prosecution Service has conceded that Smith should have been prosecuted after rejecting claims against him in 1970, 1998 and 1999.
What happened at Elm Guest House?
At least three MPs were reported to have been questioned in 1982 after a police raid on the guesthouse. It was reported at the time that it was being used as a brothel where children as young as 10 were abused. Two children living in the house were taken into care. The guesthouse was reported to have been used as a brothel for two years before it was raided. Officers found whips, chains and ropes. “They catered for every kind of perversion,” an officer told the News of World at the time. The owners of Elm Guest House, Haroon and Carol Kasir, were subsequently convicted of running a brothel. The property was later turned into flats.
What are the new allegations?
Vishal’s father, Vishambar Mehrotra, said he recorded a telephone call with a male prostitute in 1981 who said Vishal could have been taken to Elm Guest House after being abducted. Mehrotra, a retired magistrate and solicitor, said the police refused to investigate, because clients of the guesthouse included judges and politicians. The prostitute “talked about judges and politicians who were abusing little boys,” Mehrotra said. “It is clear to me there has been a huge cover-up.”
What are the police investigating?
Last week the Metropolitan police said they were investigating possible murders as part of Operation Midland. An alleged victim of sexual abuse claimed to have witnessed the murder of a 12-year-old boy by a Conservative MP, and said two other boys had been murdered by members of a paedophile network. This operation is related to Operation Fairbank, a “scoping exercise” that included inquiries into activities at the the Elm Guest House. Inquiries relating to the guest house were later separated into Operation Fernbridge, a full criminal investigation. Operation Midland is specifically looking at the information about the three possible homicides linked to child abuse.
• This article was amended on 21 November 2014 to correct and clarify several points in the final paragraph.