A POLICE probe into a Westminster paedophile ring active in the late 1970s and early 1980s took a sinister new twist yesterday as detectives announced they were linking it to the alleged murder of three young boys.
Senior officers appealed directly to victims and potential witnesses to come forward to assist this new phase of their high-level inquiry, codenamed Operation Midland.
They asked for help from witnesses who lived in Dolphin Square, in Pimlico, an exclusive residential development near Parliament in central London, which housed numerous high-profile residents including politicians, peers, civil servants and senior members of MI5 and MI6, and is now central to the inquiry.
And in a direct appeal to other potential victims of the paedophile ring, the Scottish detective in charge of the inquiry called on them to “trust me” in his team’s attempts to bring the perpetrators to justice 30 years on. Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald was insistent that some people who lived in or visited Dolphin Square in the 1970s “will have seen or heard something that they only understand the significance of now”.
He said: “Today, I want to appeal directly to those other young boys – now men – who were also subject to abuse at the hands of these men.
“I believe that there were other boys who were abused or who were present when that abuse took place. I would ask you to trust me.
“I will support you and do everything in my power to find those responsible and bring them to justice.
“I need your accounts to help me do that.”
Police are also investigating allegations that abuse took place at other premises across London and the Home Counties, including some military bases.
Mr McDonald, said: “I appeal to men who were subjected to abuse 30 years ago to come forward. We are also investigating the murder of three young boys – we are determined to find answers.”
Deputy assistant commissioner Steve Rodhouse said an alleged victim known as Nick – not his real name – had claimed he was abused at a flat in Dolphin Square between 1975 and 1984.
Mr McDonald said: “Nick has been spoken to by experienced officers from the child abuse team and from the murder investigation team and they and I believe what Nick is saying is credible and true; hence why we are investigating the allegations that he has made.”
Nick has alleged he was abused by single men, groups of men and at “parties”, and that other young boys were present who were also abused, Mr McDonald said.
No further details of the alleged murders were given by detectives.
Mr Rodhouse said: “We are committed to fully investigating these cases and we will go where the evidence takes us and we will act without fear or favour.”
Police have said that they had not confirmed any identities of the murder victims and said no bodies had been found.
Cyril Smith, the late Liberal MP, was among senior politicians named in a 40-page dossier detailing alleged child abusers within the British establishment sent to then home secretary Leon Brittan in November 1983.
The dossier has since been destroyed or lost, according to a Home Office review. The Crown Prosecution Service has conceded that Smith should have been prosecuted, after rejecting claims against him in 1970, 1998 and 1999.
Detectives are now working through historical missing persons’ reports and unsolved child murders to look for possible links to the case.
The father of an eight-year-old boy murdered 33 years ago last month claimed his son may have been killed by the paedophile ring and said Scotland Yard helped “cover up” the crime.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
Vishambar Mehrotra, a retired magistrate, recorded a male prostitute saying in a telephone call that his son, Vishal, may have been abducted and taken to the now notorious Elm guesthouse.
The child went missing on the day of the Royal Wedding in 1981.
He took the recording to police at the time but claims they refused to investigate an allegation implicating “judges and politicians”. Mr Mehrotra said it had been a “huge cover-up”.
Scotland Yard detectives have also spoken to the family of Martin Allen, who disappeared in 1979 at the age of 15, police confirmed.
Mr McDonald said one line of inquiry they were investigating was that a young boy was run over.
Operation Midland falls under a wider umbrella of investigations, dubbed Operation Fairbank, into allegations of abuse involving senior politicians and high-profile figures.
It was set up in response to allegations made by Labour MP Tom Watson in the House of Commons. Operation Fairbank has received more than 600
e-mails and pieces of information about child abuse concerning individuals both dead and alive.
There are 18 strands of allegations under Fairbank, including Operation Midland.
They are not all linked and some involve alleged child abuse in care homes and do not all relate to MPs and high-profile figures.
Five people have been arrested and charged under Fairbank operations.
Officers interviewed more than 1,000 people as victims and witnesses under Fairbank, seized 300 exhibits and created more than 900 documents. Operation Fernbridge, which falls under Fairbank, focuses on allegations of abuse at the Elm guesthouse in London.
Two people have been charged in connection with Fernbridge – Father Anthony McSweeney and John Stingemore. However, detectives said they do not have evidence to support claims that there was widespread abuse by prominent, high-profile figures at the guesthouse.
Mr Rodhouse also discussed allegations that police officers had acted inappropriately in relation to child abuse investigations. This follows reports that police overlooked activity by high-profile suspects.
Professional standards investigators are examining those allegations, he said, which cover a period from the mid-1970s up to 2005.
Cover-up allegations have been made relating to different strands of Operation Fairbank and in some cases completely unrelated information.
They include allegations made by former detective chief inspector Clive Driscoll, who worked in the Lambeth borough.
Mr Driscoll has said he prepared a list of suspects’ names he wanted to investigate, which he then discussed at a meeting outside his investigation team.
He then claims he was subsequently moved from the investigation team.
Mr Rodhouse said: “We take any allegations of impropriety by police officers very seriously. Police from the department of professional standards have spoken to Clive and are now following up on those inquiries.”
The Ministry of Defence said that all inquiries directed to them were now being handled by the Met in relation to allegations that abuse took place at military bases.
Luxury block once home to royalty, peers, MPs and a spy
DOLPHIN Square, the complex at the centre of the MP paedophile scandal, has been home to former prime minister Harold Wilson, former Liberal leader David Steel and ex-Tory MP Iain Mills, who died in a flat there.
Other famous residents have included Princess Anne, Christine Keeler – who was involved in the Profumo Affair – and Lord Chief Justice Lord Goddard.
John Vassall, the Soviet spy, was arrested at apartment 807 in the square’s Hood House in 1962.
Dolphin Square is a block of private apartments and a business complex near the River Thames at Pimlico in London. At one time, the huge development was home to more than 70 MPs and at least ten peers.
The block is situated on the former works of the builder Thomas Cubitt, who created the surrounding Pimlico district in the 19th century.
An army clothing factory was built on the site after Cubitt’s death, and it stood until 1933, when the leasehold on the site reverted to the Duke of Westminster.
US firm Frederick French Corporation bought the freehold, but a financial crisis resulted in its sale to Richard Rylands Costain, founder of the nascent Costain Group, who began construction on his own development in 1935.
Sir Maxwell Joseph bought the complex in 1958 for
£2.4 million, selling it to Lintang Investments in 1959 for £3.1m. Westminster City Council bought the lease for £4.5m in the mid-1960s, and subsequently sublet it to the Dolphin Square Trust, a housing association that had been newly created for the purpose.
In January 2006, the trust and Westminster City Council sold the development to the American Westbrook Holdings group for £200m.
Accommodation is provided in 13 “houses” each named after a famous navigator or admiral – they include Grenville, Drake, Raleigh, Hawkins and Nelson.
The estate contains a pool, bar, brasserie, gym and shopping arcade. In the basement are a launderette and car park. A tennis court and croquet lawn overlook the River Thames.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS