Child abuse complaints against late Tory MP ‘not reported to police’
Allegations about a Conservative MP’s “penchant for small boys” were passed to the security service but not investigated or reported to police, an inquiry has heard.
The claim concerned the late Tory MP for Chester Peter Morrison, the Westminster strand of the wide-ranging Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) was told.
The inquiry, which is expected to sit for three weeks, will deal with “extremely serious issues” and aims to address “outstanding questions of public concern” related to abuse allegations against people linked to Westminster, Monday’s session heard.
Lead counsel to the inquiry Brian Altman QC said that during its work the inquiry has obtained a copy of a 1986 letter, written by then-director general of the security service Sir Antony Duff.
Mr Altman said: “The letter makes it clear that the information that Mr Morrison had ’a penchant for small boys’ had been passed to the security service by a member of the Westminster establishment, who had heard it from two sources.
“We have obtained other documents relevant to this correspondence from both the Cabinet Office and the security service.
“Those documents make it clear that neither the security service nor the Cabinet Office took steps to investigate this allegation, nor did they report them to the police.”
Former MI5 chief Baroness Manningham-Buller, who the inquiry heard was a friend of Peter Morrison, will be among those called to give evidence at the inquiry’s London headquarters.
It was one of a series of matters raised on the opening day of an inquiry, which was earlier branded a “witch hunt against dead politicians”.
The hearing was told the inquiry will not consider allegations made by Carl Beech, previously known as “Nick”, about a Westminster paedophile ring.
Beech has since been charged with perverting the course of justice and fraud.
Mr Altman acknowledged there has been criticism of the inquiry but argued there are wider “issues of public concern” that remain outstanding.
He said: “We suggest, and we are confident that many of the core participants here today will agree, that there are outstanding questions of public concern in this area that it is both necessary and appropriate for this inquiry to investigate, albeit in a limited and proportionate manner.”
Mr Altman stressed the inquiry will look at how organisations responded to child sex abuse allegations rather than the truth of claims against individuals.
The IICSA has already stated allegations against people accused of wrongdoing during the hearing are not necessarily true.
The probe will look at seven topics during its investigation, including whether political parties turned a blind eye to allegations and if there were attempts to cover up abuse claims.
The Morrison case study will be considered alongside how the Liberal Party, now the Liberal Democrat Party, responded to allegations made against the late MP Sir Cyril Smith and a more recent incident regarding Green Party member David Challenor.
The operation of the Whips’ offices in Parliament and the existence of so-called “dirt books” containing “scandal” about MPs will also be examined, as will the honours system, following concerns around honours potentially being granted to people accused of abuse either before or after their nominations.
The inquiry will also consider a claim the Paedophile Information Exchange received £30,000 in funding from the Home Office’s then Voluntary Services Unit (VSU), disguised as payment to the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS or now RVS).
Sam Stein QC, representing former civil servant Tim Hulbert, who made the claim, said financial records appeared to have gone missing for the time in question, claiming that was “deeply suspicious”.
Mr Altman said the inquiry had not been able to substantiate Mr Hulbert’s allegation.
Finally, the inquiry will examine current and future safeguarding and child protection policies in parties, Government and the intelligence and security agencies.
Mr Altman said a question raised by Labour’s Tom Watson in the House of Commons in 2012, saying there was “clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10”, could be seen as the “catalyst for the establishment of this inquiry”.
But Geoffrey Robertson QC, for Harvey Proctor – whose home was raided under the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Midland before the probe closed in 2016 without a single arrest – claimed Mr Watson and “various febrile journalists” had “started a moral panic” over an alleged paedophile ring.
Daniel Janner QC, son of the late Labour peer Lord Janner, speaking outside the inquiry before the hearing began, claimed allegations forming part of the probe are based on “tittle tattle, false rumours and dodgy dossiers”.
He said the inquiry was “a witch hunt against dead politicians”.
Richard Scorer, representing seven men who have made allegations against Cyril Smith, told the hearing there was a danger amid talk of conspiracies and VIP paedophile rings that an important point could be missed.
He said: “The issue in some cases may not so much be deliberate cover-up or conspiracy.
“The issue may have been that nobody was actually thinking about the welfare of children at all.”
The hearing was adjourned until Tuesday.