As the late MP Cyril Smith was last night named as a suspect in the case of paedophile parties at the Elm guest house in Rocks Lane Barnes, media and Westminster sources close to events broke cover to suggest that “a sense of great unease” permeates senior Coalition Ministers this weekend. The Slog investigates why.
Although most people have now forgotten the event, two and a half years ago David Cameron – unable to find anyone who’d take the job as Trade Minister – appointed Leon Brittan as a consultant to do the job ‘full time for £500 a day’ – or roughly £170,000 per annum. The former Thatcher aide worked in the role from September 2010 until February 2011, taking time off from his Vice-Chairmanship of UBS investment bank to do it.
This is not, however, the only direct link Mr Brittan has with the Coalition. He was also Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s first political boss in Europe, and on LBC recently David Mellor mentioned that Brittan had promoted Clegg: “He [Clegg] got the job because Clegg’s father was a very close friend of Leon Brittan” said the former toe-sucking Conservative Minister. It is not clear whether Clegg promoted Brittan’s cause for the 2010-11 consultancy job, but the LibDem leader admits himself that Mr Brittan first introduced him to Paddy Ashdown.
Brittan first became a controversial figure during the Westland Helicopters affair in 1986. He resigned when he was shown to have leaked a letter critical of the minister at the centre of the scandal, Michael Heseltine. Heseltine stormed out of Cabinet, but was later said by some to have felt ‘framed’ by events during and after the events of that time. Sources told The Slog late last year that Heseltine’s appearance in the ‘little black book’ of American paedophile pimp Jeffrey Epstein was “a plant designed to discredit him”, but to my knowledge nobody has ever accused specific individuals of the frame-up. (The Daily Mail rang Heseltine at the time, who told them he had “no memory of even meeting Epstein”.)
However, what is clear is that several photocopies of what purports to be an Elm House ‘regulars’ guest list have been circulating around the internet over the last two weeks. They clearly feature the name Leon Brittan. Shortly after the Westland affair, Whitehall and Westminster openly gossiped about Margaret Thatcher “banishing” Brittan to an EU bureaucratic post. Clouds of accusation have followed the former Trade Minister ever since, including on one occasion rumours about “irregularities” in the contents of a diplomatic bag coming from the EU into Britain.
Last November there was speculation in media circles that the ‘senior Tory politician’ accused by Steve Messham might have been Leon Brittan. Then the entire episode became clouded by a BBC supplier wrongly hinting that Lord Alistair McAlpine was one of the men concerned. In 2000, a £13m investigation by Sir Ronald Waterhouse QC made a series of recommendations after finding ‘systematic abuse, a climate of violence and a culture of secrecy’ existed in Welsh children’s homes. The Elm House ‘parties’ are thought to have been regular affairs in the 1990s. The enquiry took statements from 240 people abused as children in 40 homes, and mentioned 200 people who thought to be paedophile child abusers. Many of the names discussed were never released.
Also during November last year, The Slog posted an extended piece running through the names of senior MPs suspected by some of having paedophile proclivities. At that time I specifically offered the strong view that Ken Clarke (one of the accused) had quite definitely been wrongly accused. Earlier this week, a senior media contact close to the issue confirmed to me that the Clarke accusations “are complete tosh”. This in turn raises a question mark again over soi-disant ‘whistle-blower’ and former child actor Ben Fellows, who continues to accuse Clarke of things that appear to be obviously false. Six weeks ago a Smoke Signals piece here suggested that Fellows might be working for a third party in this regard. This has never been substantiated.
The abuse trail first exposed in the Commons by Labour campaigner Tom Watson seems at times to be an unfathomable spaghetti of plot, rumour, stitch-up and cover-up. But strong suspicions of ‘a paedophile ring with close links to Ten Downing Street under Margaret Thatcher’ remain. The raid by police two weeks ago on the premises of those batting for the abused has raised further concerns about a potential Establishment desire to seize any damning evidence of active paedophilia among Britain’s political class.