In 2012 when the British media was tying itself up in knots about the unproven accusations against Lord McAlpine regarding the Bryn Estyn paedophile ring, one edition of the BBC’s Newsnight programme was radically changed at the last minute to avoid charges of libel. Like many others, I was curious to know what was it that was being withheld from the viewers.
At the time, Lord McAlpine’s name was not widely known to be associated with the story however he was trending on Twitter and I chose to follow that particular rabbit down the various online conspiracy theory rabbit holes. What I turned-up was sickening in the extreme and was, of course, likely to be at best coincidence and or borne of malicious intent. Nonetheless, amongst the detritus and extreme fruit-loopery there were strands of a story about a VIP paedophile ring consisting of, amongst others, several high profile MP’s and ministers. The ring was based in London and used various addresses including Dolphin Square (an apartment block which is popular with MPs due to its proximity to the house of commons) and the Elm Guest house. The details were beyond disturbing, indeed much of what I read was. if true, terrifying and I do not recommend that you seek out the information for yourself.
We now know with certainty that 114 files containing allegations of child abuse by “prominent figures” as well as a dossier, compiled by campaigning MP Geoffrey Dickens, containing evidence of a conspiracy to cover-up a Westminster based paedophile ring existed. We also know that the dossier (and perhaps related documents) were seen by the then home secretary, Leon Brittan (whose name is widely mentioned as being associated with the alleged abuse), and his officials – but where are these missing files?
Home office officials claim that the files have been “lost” or “destroyed” along with 36,000 other missing files, a claim that can only be described as beyond fanciful. In modern government, political spin (or lying as it used to be called) is something that we now accept as part of the landscape but, even in the latter part of the last century, accusations that MPs (and possibly ministers of the crown) could be involved in the sexual exploitation of children was something that had the potential to fatally undermine the public’s support for our fragile and unrepresentative style of democracy. It is easy to see how the attractiveness of suppressing the allegations of politicians’ involvement in paedophilia could have been irresistible to Brittan and his officials at the time.
You might think that ‘independent’ officials simply would not purposefully deceive the public in order to protect their transient political masters but such deception has been documented throughout the history of the service. It is plausible to accept that their motives for deceiving the people and even those of the relevant politicians may have been pure at the time the deception was committed but that cannot be seen as an acceptable excuse in the wider historical context.
Consider recent events. The US government have connived with our own civil service in, what this blog believes was, a cover-up of Tony Blairs‘ motivation for taking the UK to war in Iraq. If we can move past the fact that, subsequently, both Blair and George W. Bush have said that God told them that war was the answer to the ‘Saddam question’, prima facie evidence about whether Blair was intent on war, regardless of the facts is likely to be contained in the direct communications between the two leaders before the public decision was announced.
One of the core functions of government officials is to record and archive for posterity all communications and reasoning for the decisions of any given government. When a matter of war is being considered, recording of key conversations must be a priority. Officials’ freedom to act in accordance with the wishes of the presiding government in areas of policy that can be controversial is, for good reason, often protected by secrecy. This necessary confidentiality is enshrined in the civil service code of conduct, the official secrets act and elsewhere and is commonly known as the ’30 year rule’. As a result, officials have no reason relating to personal risk for not recording critical messages between two leaders on the verge of war.
Notwithstanding officials’ explicit functions, the Chilcot inquiry into why the UK went to war in Iraq requested access to the Bush-Blair exchanges and yet, inexplicably, officials from both the US and UK have mysteriously ‘lost’ all records of these critical messages. If these documents are being withheld, it is a treason against the British people but it also exemplifies how straightforward it can be for the public to be misled if key evidence is removed from the official recorded history.
It is a story as old as the civil service itself but for those that believe it is not possible that officials somehow purposefully lost the Brittan dossier may find the clip from the BBC’s political satire ‘Yes Minister’ at the end of the following vimeo video instructive.
Video © Channel 4 /ITN /BBC
Due to copyright restrictions in order to watch the clip you need to type or copy and paste the password: imincorrigible
A former ministerial colleague of Brittan, David Mellor, claimed on his radio show that the missing dossier was “spoken of as not substantive” but he did not read the contents himself. He also says that it is unfair to criticise Brittan when he had passed on the dossier to officials. On what evidence does Mellor make these claims? The word of Leon Brittan. That is not a credible or responsible position to take.
Video © BBC
David Cameron has said that an “independent” legal figure will be instructed to review the 2013 home office review of missing child abuse related files but we should not accept another Whitehall stitch-up. The MP paedophile ring allegations were ignored by politicians and left uninvestigated, at least as far as the public were aware, in the 1970’s, 80s and 90’s. Meanwhile, organised child abuse especially against children in the care of the state has continued unabated. Nothing less than a full public inquiry will remove the stench of toxic allegations of criminality hanging over Westminster and I urge readers of this blog to support Tim Loughton, Simon Danczuk and 120 other MP’s call for a full over-arching public inquiry into the activities surrounding the multiple known cases of paedophile abuse at that time and any cover-up that took place
Please vote in the poll on my original post.
About the Jillings Report:
Published on 8 Jul 2013
A report written 17 years ago, has finally been published, identifying long-term “extensive” abuse at children’s homes in north Wales during the 1970s through to the 1990s.
Abuse allegations at several children’s homes, including the former Bryn Estyn home in Wrexham, emerged in the 1990s. An inquiry by John Jillings was carried out in 1996 but shelved due to fears there would be compensation claims.
The 300-page report was initially written in 1996 after it was commissioned by the former Clwyd County Council, which covered the areas now represented by Flintshire, Denbighshire and Wrexham councils.
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