Don Hale, former editor of the Bury Messenger, has alleged that former Home Secretary Leon Brittan was actively involved in a cover up of child abuse by a paedophile ring including prominent Westminster MPs.
In an interview with the Daily Beast Hale alleges that a dossier on the abuse handed to him by Labour peer and then Cabinet Minister Barbara Castle, and later seized by Special Branch officers, was suppressed by Brittan. He says the then Home Secretary “was mentioned in everything you picked up, his fingerprints were over everything, he was the instigator”.
Brittan passed away in January following a long battle with cancer. Over the past few years he had faced growing questions over what he knew about allegations that a network of paedophiles had operated in Westminster during the 1980s.
He admitted receiving a file from Geoffrey Dickens, then a Conservative MP, regarding the allegations but insisted that he had acted properly in passing the documents over to officials for examination. A review in 2013 supported his claims.
However, Hale’s allegations put the spotlight back on Westminster as the scandal continues to gather pace. Days after Brittan’s death, Labour MP Tom Watson who has been pivotal in bringing the case back into the public domain said he spoke to several people who allege they were raped by the late politician. One male victim was a child when he was allegedly raped by Brittan.
“Many have urged me over the past two years to reveal allegations against Brittan using parliamentary privilege,” Watson told the Mirror. “This allows MPs to say things that are not subject to libel laws. Some will ask why I’ve waited until his death to speak out. The reason is simple. I didn’t want to prejudice any jury trial he might one day face.”
Liz Davies, a former social worker who was employed in Islington during the 1980s, told the Daily Beast that she had collected evidence suggesting that as many as 61 boys had been victims of a network of sexual predators “that stretched from Westminster to Northern Ireland, Wales, and the island of Jersey in the Channel”.
Yet on presenting her findings to Scotland Yard, Davies alleges that she was told the case would not be pursued.
The case raises more awkward questions about how the authorities sought to avoid investigations by both the police and the press into the allegations. These latest accusations add even more pressure onto the independent inquiry into historical child abuse that is currently underway. Last month Justice Lowell Goddard became the third head of the troubled investigation, with the previous two having been dismissed for their perceived links to the establishment.
That enquiry is set to go on for at least three years and will focus on allegations dating back as far as 1945.