Margaret Thatcher wanted to keep paedophile diplomat's name secret

ThatcherReuters/Kieran DohertyMargaret Thatcher

New documents released by the Cabinet Office show that Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative prime minister, attempted to prevent the public from learning about paedophilia accusations against senior diplomat Sir Peter Hayman.

Hayman, who died in 1992, was investigated by police in 1978 for possessing obscene literature, but was not prosecuted. However, in 1984 the former deputy director of the British secret service was convicted of gross indecency following an incident in a public lavatory.

The new information comes to light as a file, compiled between October 1980 and March 1981, has finally been released following the revelation of its existence by Sky News last month. It ends with the following paragraph:

It is the policy of the law officers that persons who have been investigated by the police but not prosecuted should not be named in the House [of Commons], as to do so is to cast an unnecessary slur on the person without his having the opportunity to clear his name before a court.

The Guardian reports that the paragraph is annotated with hand-written notes by Thatcher, including the crossing out of “in the House,” indicating the strength of the then Prime Minister’s desire to keep the matter from being discussed. Elsewhere she underlines the passage suggesting the accusation that Hayman had indecent material relating to children in his possession appeared “all to be fantasy”.

Thatcher Hayman fileGuardianA page from the Hayman file.

Despite Thatcher’s efforts, in March 1981 Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens used his parliamentary privilege to link Hayman to the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), a group that claimed to campaign for “children’s sexuality”. He asked the House whether the attorney general “will prosecute Sir Peter Hayman under the Post Office Acts for sending and receiving pornographic material though the Royal Mail”.

Following the question, Dickens claimed to have become subject to verbal threats, burglaries and even alleged that he had been placed on the hit-list of a “multi-killer”:

Parliament UKExtract from MP Geoffrey Dickens, November 29, 1985.

Dickens also created a dossier naming eight Westminster figures he believed should be investigated for abusing children. The document disappeared after it was handed to Leon Brittan, the late home secretary. Dickens’ London flat was burglarised but nothing was taken. Many believe the intention of the burglary was to find and steal Dickens’ files on MPs who abused children.

Dickens died in 1995.

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