MI5 warned Thatcher about Westminster pedophiles, no action taken

© Stefan Wermuth
A former MI5 director warned Margret Thatcher’s administration that allegations concerning one MP who had a “penchant for small boys” could cause the government serious political embarrassment.

Investigators currently looking into the historic child sex abuse scandal found that nothing had been done about the potential threat to children, but rather the security service had warned the allegations could damage the reputation of Thatcher’s government.

Newly discovered files show former spy chief Sir Anthony Duff had written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Robert Armstrong in 1986 to warn him of claims made about the behavior of one MP.

The new documents were analyzed by the head of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC.

Other politicians whose names were mentioned in the review of new material include former Cabinet minister Leon Brittan, Thatcher’s aide Peter Morrison, ex-diplomat Sir Peter Hayman and former minister William van Straubenzee.

Wanless and Whittam said the documents showed that threats to children were not taken seriously.

There were a number of references across the papers we saw that reinforced the observation we made in our review that issues of crimes against children, particularly the rights of the complainant, were given considerably less serious consideration than would be expected today.

“To give one striking example, in response to claims from two sources that a named Member of Parliament ‘has a penchant for small boys’ matters conclude with acceptance of his word that he does not and the observation that ‘at the present stage ... the risks of political embarrassment to the government is rather greater than the security danger.’ The risk to children is not considered at all.”

The new group of papers, which name former establishment figures as well as references to the Kincora children’s home in Northern Ireland where boys were abused, were “found in a separate Cabinet Office store of assorted and unstructured papers.”

Wanless and Whittam’s inquiry noted last year that they hadn’t unearthed evidence that any records had been deliberately destroyed and added they had “found nothing to cause us to alter the conclusions drawn or recommendations made in our review.”

But they also said the discovery of new papers would not be “helpful” in recovering public trust in the inquiry, which was completed last year.

An NSPCC spokesman said: “This is a clear illustration, as the original review revealed, of the misplaced priorities of those operating at [the] highest levels of government, where people simply weren't thinking about crimes against children and the consequences of those crimes in the way that we would expect them to. It reiterates the need for an inquiry that will explore this in depth.”