Police feel pressure under scrutiny of probe into historical claims of child sex abuse
By Mark Conrad | 5 June 2014
“There was disgust that a senior officer apparently cared more for his relationship with the Press than for a victim” – Michael, Jane’s partner
Scotland Yard is accusing Exaro of being “overly intrusive” in monitoring the police investigation into a former cabinet minister and other alleged VIP paedophiles.
A senior police officer, a detective chief inspector, made the comment at a meeting with the woman – known as “Jane” to protect her identity – who alleges that the ex-minister raped her before he became a politician when she was a 19-year-old student in 1967.
The senior officer is working on ‘Operation Fernbridge’, which is investigating historical claims that the same ex-minister and other prominent people sexually abused boys at Elm Guest House in Barnes, south-west London, and other locations.
Jane accused the DCI of being too concerned about relations with the media: “He is a senior public servant on a key police investigation, in which there is significant public interest. So he has to accept the transparency.”
At the meeting, the DCI told the couple that he had decided to drop the investigation without even questioning the ex-minister about her allegations.
According to Jane and Michael, the DCI began the meeting by asking whether she was in contact with any reporters.
Jane told him that she was talking to Exaro.
The DCI then started whingeing about Exaro, said Jane and Michael. “They have been overly intrusive with regard to an ongoing investigation,” he said.
Michael told Exaro: “There was disgust that a senior officer apparently cared more for his relationship with the Press than for a victim.”
Jane talked to Exaro in the hope that other witnesses would come forward. A series of disclosures by Exaro has heaped pressure on the Met:
- police launched a smear campaign against Jane in an attempt to undermine her rape claim against the ex-minister;
- police comments suggest a failure by the Met to understand the law on consent at the time of the alleged rape.
The disclosures about the police investigation into Jane’s rape claims led to a blistering attack on the Met by Tom Watson, Labour MP, in a letter to the director of public prosecutions. Watson first raised claims in Parliament of sexual abuse by leading political figures in the wake of the exposure of Jimmy Savile, the late BBC star, as a paedophile.
However, police have pressed witnesses, unsuccessfully, not to speak to Exaro. They include the witness who told Exaro about “sex parties” in London three decades ago, which were attended by prominent people, and where boys were sexually abused. Detectives seized video that places the ex-minister at one of these parties, to which the witness also went.
Peters denied having anything to do with Elm Guest House. “I never heard it mentioned until the reports about Cyril Smith,” he said, referring to the late former Liberal MP who made use of the guest house. Peters said that the police were not treating him as a suspect.
Meanwhile, the Met faces fresh pressure this week as a high-powered, cross-party group of seven MPs called on Theresa May, home secretary, to set up a national inquiry into historical cases of child sex abuse because of a police failure to “follow the evidence”.
Related Stories : Child sex abuse, ‘Fernbridge’ and ‘Fairbank’: Exaro story thread