Paedophile dossier: Leon Brittan statement 'disappointing' - MP
Former Home Secretary remembers 'a bundle of papers' - but does not recall officials taking it further
The former Conservative Home Secretary Lord [Leon] Brittan issued a statement this morning after being challenged to reveal what he knew about a dossier of allegations of a paedophile ring “operating in an around Westminster” in the 1980s.
However, the statement has been described as "disappointing" by Labour MP Simon Danczuk who had put pressure on Brittan to tell the public what he knew of the dossier prepared by the Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens.
Meanwhile, the Home Office has said that it has carried out a trawl for the Dickens dossier. Danczuk said that if the dossier had been destroyed it would "fuel the flames of conspiracy" and "people will think names have been protected".
Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale and co-author of a book exposing paedophile rings, told the Home Affairs Select Committee of the Commons yesterday that Brittan, who was Home Secretary in Margaret Thatcher’s government between 1983 and 1985, had “questions to answer” about a dossier recording the crimes.
"It would be welcome if he stepped forward and shared his knowledge of the allegations", Danczuk told MPs.
In the event, Brittan said this morning:
"As I recall, he [Dickens] came to my room at the Home Office with a substantial bundle of papers. As is normal practice, my private secretary would have been present at the meeting.
"I told Mr Dickens that I would ensure that the papers were looked at carefully by the Home Office and acted on as necessary. Following the meeting, I asked my officials to look carefully at the material contained in the papers provided and report back to me if they considered that any action needed to be taken by the Home Office.
"In addition I asked my officials to consider a referral to another government department, such as the attorney general's department, if that was appropriate.
"This was the normal procedure for handing material presented to the Home Secretary.
"I do not recall being contacted further about these matters by Home Office officials or by Mr Dickens or by anyone else."
Danczuk, speaking to the BBC today, said he believed the public would be disappointed by Brittan's statement and he questioned why Brittan had not told his officials to "come back to him within a week".
Brittan's response, Danczuk argued, "goes right to the heart of an attitude in politics: that child abuse is a subject best avoided."
It was Danczuk who helped expose a previous Rochdale MP, the late Cyril Smith, as a child sex abuser. Smith, a Liberal, was MP for 20 years, from 1972 to 1992, but was able to escape prosecution in his lifetime (he died in 2010).
As well as haunting young boys in Rochdale, Smith has been confirmed by police as having been a visitor to Elm Guest House in South London, where children were allegedly abused in the 1980s. Danczuk said he had spoken to a victim Smith had abused there and that "other high-profile figures are alleged to have attended there".
Danczuk said that Cyril Smith escaped prosecution because he was "part of a network of people protecting each other". His victims, Danczuk said, were "poor, white, working class boys" in the same way that 40 years later the victims of grooming in Rochdale were "poor, white, working class girls".
Danczuk has called for a national overarching "Hillsborough-style" inquiry into historical allegations of child sex abuse. He claims politics is "the last refuge of child sex abuse deniers" and that there is a view among many politicians that alleged offenders should not be named.
An inquiry would help identify other perpetrators, he believes.
In a separate development, the Crown Prosecution Service has announced that it will release details of the advice it gave to police in the late 1990s which enabled Cyril Smith to escape prosecution. It would first take steps to protect the identities of the victims.