New questions over how Whips’ Office covered up for Peter Morrison and other abusers
By Frederika Whitehead | 11 September 2014
– Edwina Currie, former Conservative MP
This year’s Conservative conference is set to be dogged by fresh allegations about how the party covered up for paedophile MPs.
New claims about Sir Peter Morrison, the late MP who was Lady Thatcher’s parliamentary private secretary (PPS) when she was prime minister, are due to be published at the end of this month to coincide with the Conservatives’ annual conference.
It will renew questions about who in the party knew what about Morrison and when. He was publicly identified as a paedophile after he died.
The details are to be disclosed by Gyles Brandreth, broadcaster, and former Conservative MP and government whip in John Major’s government, in his updated diaries.
His book, ‘Breaking the Code’, is also expected to disclose details about the secretive workings of the Whips’ Office, which is embroiled by concerns about how it helped to cover up paedophilia among MPs.
Biteback Publishing, which is due to publish the book at the start of the Conservative conference, says: “Breaking the Code also contains the first ever insider’s account of the hitherto secret world that is the government Whips’ Office. This new, complete edition features material previously excised for legal reasons.”
Brandreth became MP for Morrison’s old constituency of Chester in 1992. Morrison reportedly stood down after being caught cottaging in public toilets with underage boys and released with a caution.
On Twitter last month, Brandreth was challenged: “What did you really know about Peter Morrison and his public lavatory existence?”
Brandreth replied: “Too much to tell in a tweet, but you’ll find a full answer in the new ‘Breaking the Code’, which Biteback publishes in September.”
The author and former MP told Exaro: “Peter Morrison was my predecessor as MP for the city of Chester and I have written extensively about him, and the allegations concerning him, in the new edition of my Westminster Diaries.”
“I have tried to put everything I do and did know into the book, hence my answer to that tweet.”
Brandreth referred briefly to the allegations against Morrison in the first edition of Breaking the Code, which was published in 1999. He wrote that he had been told “several times [his emphasis] on the doorstep – in no uncertain terms – that the MP is ‘a disgusting pervert’ who is ‘into little boys’.”
On Morrison’s death in 1995, Brandreth wrote: “He smoked and drank himself to death. He was found dead at the foot of the stairs. He was only 51. He looked 70.”
Edwina Currie, another former Conservative MP and minister, wrote in her diaries published in 2002 of Morris: “He is what they call ‘a noted pederast’, with a liking for young boys.”
But there may be even greater sensitivity surrounding details of how the Whips’ Office operates.
When Theresa May, home secretary, announced the overarching inquiry into child sex abuse in the establishment and institutions throughout the UK, MPs raised the issue of the role of whips in covering up for paedophile MPs.
They cited a BBC interview from 1995 with Tim Fortescue, a senior whip for Ted Heath’s government from 1970 to 1973. He said: “Anyone with any sense who was in trouble would come to the whips and tell them the truth, and say, ‘Now, I am in a jam, can you help?’
“It might be debt, it might be scandal involving small boys, any kind of scandal, which, if a member seemed likely to be mixed up in, they would come and ask if we could help. And if we could, we did.
“And we would do everything we can because we would store up brownie points. And if, I mean, that sounds a pretty- pretty nasty reason, but it is one of the reasons, because if we could get a chap out of trouble, then he will do as we ask forever more.”
Another former Conservative MP, Jerry Hayes, wrote in his memoirs in March of the whips: “If you find yourself in a spot of bother, like being found with a cold woman, a hot boy or a serious drink problem, they will also advise you how to minimise the damage. But they are primarily doing this to protect the government. Not the MP.”
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