Video: Cameron faces call to shield Cyril Smith whistleblowers

  • Investigation into young men being targeted in apartment complex popular with MPs allegedly stopped because officers were “too near prominent people”
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THE PRIME Minister is facing calls to guarantee that police and intelligence officers who give evidence over an alleged VIP paedophile ring in Westminster will not be prosecuted.

It emerged yesterday that Scotland Yard is being investigated over claims that it covered up child sex abuse because of the involvement of influential MPs and police officers.

Sir Cyril Smith

Sir Cyril Smith

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it is looking into 14 referrals with details of alleged corruption in the Metropolitan Police relating to child sex offences from the 1970s to the 2000s.

New claims were also made on the BBC’s Newsnight that officers who arrested Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith on suspicion of hosting sex parties with teenage boys were warned to keep quiet about the investigation or face prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.

Tom Watson, the Labour MP who first made allegations in Parliament about a Westminster paedophile ring in October 2012, today called on David Cameron to shield whistleblowers from that law.

Mr Watson said: “It is now clear that the Prime Minister must guarantee that former police and intelligence officers who wish to help the IPCC with their inquiries will have the threat of the Official Secrets Act lifted.

“With this new inquiry it is also clear that the duty of all former police officers, intelligence officers and civil servants who have knowledge of a cover up to come forward.”

Among the allegations being investigated by the IPCC there is a claim that a Houses of Parliament document found at a child sex offender’s address linked a number of “highly prominent individuals” including MPs and senior police officers to a paedophile ring but no further action was taken.

Another allegation is that an abuse victim’s account was altered to omit a senior politician’s name, while it is also alleged that no further action was taken into claims of child sex abuse involving a former senior Met Police officer and “further members of the establishment including judges”.

An investigation into young men being targeted in Dolphin Square, the apartment complex popular with MPs, was also allegedly stopped because officers were “too near prominent people”, the IPCC said.

Last July Theresa May, the Home Secretary, announced a major public panel inquiry into whether paedophiles were sheltered in Government, the NHS, police, the courts and the BBC.

It has since been rocked by the resignations of two people selected to be its chair - Baroness Butler-Sloss and Fiona Woolf - following accusations that they were too close to the Establishment to be independent.

In February it was announced that the inquiry would be chaired by Justice Dame Lowell Goddard, a New Zealand High Court judge.

Newsnight said last night that it had received the information about the Cyril Smith investigation by a former officer familiar with the original investigation and its closure.

It claimed that police officers brought him in for questioning in connection to an inquiry in the early 1980s into properties in south London suspected of hosting paedophile parties.

He was released within hours of being taken to a police station and officers were ordered to hand over notebooks and video footage, according to the claims.

Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP for Rochdale, Cyril Smith’s old seat, also called in November 2012 for an inquiry into a potential cover-up of his predecessor’s alleged abuse.

He told Newsnight: “Time and again what we have learned more recently is that a number of police officers investigated Smith up and down the country and those investigations were quashed and officers were told to stop investigating it.

“Smith was being protected and he was being protected by some fairly powerful people and I think he was being protected because he knew of other paedophiles within the networks in which he operated.

“Had he been prosecuted then I think those other people would have been named by Smith and that’s why they ensured that he was never put before the courts.”

Clive Driscoll, a retired Scotland Yard detective who investigated child abuse allegations in Lambeth and has now examined the Cyril Smith cover-up claims, said they appear “very credible”.

Mr Driscoll branded any threat to use the Official Secrets Act against officers who want to come forward to tell the truth as “disgraceful”.

He said: “Never forget that detectives are fathers, husbands, sons, they have their own families.

“It’s incredibly difficult. If you felt that by coming forward and just telling the truth that you might have your livelihood taken away from you or you, worse still, may be taken to prison, then that’s very difficult.

“If it’s true that there are officers that want to come forward but they feel inhibited by the Official Secrets Act and if the general information that appears to come from them is true, it’s disgraceful.

“It’s just wrong and it would undermine our democracy.”