Ex-minister Lord Brittan under scrutiny over 1980s dossier of sex abuse claims
Lord Brittan says he asked officials to look into claims of Westminster paedophile network, as MPs call for inquiry.
Downing Street is facing fresh calls for an inquiry into allegations of child sex abuse among politicians after it emerged that Lord Brittan, a former home secretary, was given a dossier containing claims of Westminster paedophile activity in the 1980s.
Brittan is under scrutiny over his handling of the scandal after he said he was passed a “bundle” of claims by the former MP Geoffrey Dickens in 1983 and gave it to his officials to investigate.
Last year the Tory peer said he could not remember getting the dossier, but on Wednesday he released a statement saying he could now recollect a meeting with Dickens. He said he had asked officials to look into the claims and could not remembering hearing any more about it.
But his account was undermined by a Home Office review from last year that found Brittan wrote to Dickens in 1984 saying the material was assessed as being worth pursuing by the director of public prosecutions and was “passed to the appropriate authorities”.
Brittan released a second statement saying he had only just been made aware of the Home Office review from last summer, which proved that “appropriate action” had been taken. He said the report was “entirely consistent” with the action he set out in his first statement.
Earlier the Labour MP Simon Danczuk challenged Brittan to “share his knowledge” about the file prepared by Dickens. It contained information about the “Paedophile Information Exchange (Pie), about paedophiles operating a network within and around Westminster,” Danczuk told the home affairs committee.
Dozens of MPs are now demanding an over-arching inquiry into how the government allowed child abusers such as Jimmy Savile to operate in state-run institutions such as the NHS and the BBC. Such a move is being resisted by Downing Street.
Danczuk, who has investigated claims of abuse by the former Liberal MP Cyril Smith, has called for a “Hillsborough-style” inquiry to prevent child abuse allegations involving politicians being “swept under the carpet”.
David Cameron’s spokesman said the prime minister believed it was “very important that allegations are properly and fully looked into”, but noted that several inquiries were already under way.
“You have seen allegations in a range of areas,” said the spokesman. “In some, of course, you have seen the involvement of the prosecution and judicial services. In areas such as the health service you have seen independent expert-led reviews. Kate Lampard QC, who is leading the over-arching review in the area of the health service, has set out why she believes that approach is the right one.”
According to the letter from Brittan to Dickens on 20 March 1984, the home secretary wrote to Dickens saying: “You drew my attention to a number of allegations concerning paedophilia when you called here on 23 November and in subsequent letters.
“I am now able to tell you that, in general terms, the view of the director of public prosecutions is that two of the letters you forwarded could form the basis for inquiries by the police and they are now being passed to the appropriate authorities.
“In other cases there either seems to be inadequate evidence to pursue prosecution, for example the lady who wrote about PIE1 advertising but did not secure any example of the material complained of, or they have already been dealt with in some way by the courts or the police.”
The Home Office review, which looked at what information the department received about organised child sex abuse between 1979 and 1999, found no evidence that material had been improperly handled.
“The independent review has confirmed that the Home Office did receive information from Mr Dickens in November 1983 and in January 1984 about alleged child abuse,” the report said. “Copies of the material have not been retained but a Home Office file contains a copy letter dated 20 March 1984 from the home secretary in response to Mr Dickens.
“The letter confirms that the information was considered at the time and that any matters requiring investigation were referred to the police.”