Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Tory peer Lord Brittan defends handling of 1980s sex abuse dossier

Leon Brittan was Home Secretary in Mrs Thatcher's 1983 government
Leon Brittan was Home Secretary in Mrs Thatcher's 1983 government
Cyril Smith

Former Home Secretary Lord Brittan has defended his handling of a 1980s dossier alleging paedophile activity in Westminster – after the Government admitted it appeared to have been destroyed.

The Tory peer issued a statement after being challenged to "share what he knows" about a file prepared by MP Geoffrey Dickens.

But he caused confusion by initially claiming he passed it on to officials in November 1983 and heard nothing more, before admitting he had misremembered and in fact the material was assessed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and handed to police.

The clarification came after an independent review commissioned by the Home Office last year came to light.

It revealed that the files presented by Mr Dickens had "not been retained" by the department – but concluded that all information received between 1979 and 1999 had been handled correctly.

Lord Brittan initially stated that he had asked officials to look into the issue, and did not "recall being contacted further about these matters by Home Office officials or by Mr Dickens or by anyone else".

But he said later: "The Home Office independent review is entirely consistent with the action I set out in my earlier statement.

"Whilst I could not recall what further action was taken 30 years ago, the information contained in this report shows that appropriate action and follow-up happened."

Lord Brittan's intervention came after Labour MP Simon Danczuk urged him to spell out what he knew about the Dickens dossier – believed to have contained information about the Paedophile Information Exchange (Pie) and abuse networks operating around Westminster.

Mr Danczuk, who has investigated claims of abuse by ex-MP Cyril Smith, is calling for an inquiry to prevent allegations involving politicians being "swept under the carpet".

He insisted there was "no reason" why the dossier should have been destroyed by the Home Office.

"This was the 1980s, not the 1880s. There would be no reason for destroying a document that made allegations of serious criminality. Many people will think it has been destroyed to protect the people whose names were in it," he said.

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