Unearthed Whitehall files suggest child abuse cover-up to protect Thatcher government

Unearthed Whitehall files suggest child abuse cover-up to protect Thatcher government

New Whitehall files suggest MI5insisted on a cover-up of child abuse claims against an MP in order to prevent embarrassment for theThatcher government.

The documents were discovered in a Cabinet Office storeroom of “assorted and unstructured papers”.

One paper, from November 1986, shows Sir Antony Duff, director-general of the intelligence agency at the time, writing to cabinet secretary Sir Robert Armstrong about an MP who was said to have “a penchant for small boys”.

Sir Antony wrote he accepted the MP’s denials and added: “At the present stage… the risks of political embarrassment to the government is rather greater than the security danger”.

Those involved in a campaign to expose the alleged VIP paedophile ring have said the memo is the first piece of solid evidence that political advantage was put ahead of protecting children.

The note was given to Richard Whittam QC and Peter Wanless, head of the NSPCC, who together published a review on the loss of hundreds of files pertaining to abuse allegations made in the 1980s.

Last November the pair concluded there was no systematic destruction of the files.

However, in a supplementary report which the UK government published yesterday, they are severely critical of the attitude at the time evidenced by the Duff note.

The former MI5 directer-general’s words are described as a “striking example” of how the risk posed to children is not even considered.

They also stressed there must be a thorough trawl of the archives at Whitehall in order to provide the Goddard inquiry with every relevant document.

Justice Lowell Goddard has ordered Whitehall departments as well as the intelligence services, public sector bodies and the police not to destroy any documents she might require.

The new files, which will be given to the inquiry, also refer to other senior Westminster figures including Peter Morrison, Leon Brittan and Sir William van Straubenzee, all of whom are now dead.

One file mentions security risks posed by the “unnatural sexual proclivities”Sir Peter Hayman, who was a diplomat and intelligence operative.

Another letter refers to “Vanessa the Undresser”.

There are also papers pertaining to Sir Maurice Oldfield, former head of MI6, and his supposed links to the Kincora Boys’ Home in Northern Ireland.

Labour MP Tom Watson, who was the first to suggest a cover-up of a Westminster paedophile ring, said: “This is the first time we’ve seen in public the security services seeking to suppress allegations of serious sexual crimes because they didn’t want to see political reputations harmed.

“Every one of these files must be made available to the Goddard inquiry and there should be a rigorous examination of why they were not found until now.”

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