Customs officer recorded as he identifies ex-minister on seized video of child sex abuse
By David Hencke, Mark Conrad and Alex Varley-Winter | 19 July 2014
At least two MPs have received an explosive audio recording that threatens to blow the lid off the paedophile scandal at Westminster.
The digital recording is of an ex-Customs officer who positively identifies a former Conservative cabinet minister as being captured on a video of child sex abuse.
In a potentially incendiary move, MPs are weighing whether to name the ex-minister who is captured on the video in Parliament.
One MP told Exaro: “This could be a very important disclosure, and we need to address what we should do about it.”
The video is political dynamite. Customs and Excise seized it, along with other “indecent or obscene” films and videos of children, from Russell Tricker, a businessman, as he attempted to bring the material into the UK from Amsterdam.
Senior managers took over the case at the time, and are understood to have passed the video cassette to the Security Service, MI5. Tricker was released, and no further action was taken.
Exaro’s story sent Scotland Yard and MI5 into a spin as they briefed in a desperate attempt to spread a fictional account of the incident, trying to limit its political impact. Police on ‘Operation Fernbridge’, which is investigating allegations against the ex-minister and other political figures of child sex abuse, claimed that they visited Solanki following our story.
Solanki has told friends that he has had no contact with the police.
One officer at the Metropolitan Police Service even claimed that the ex-minister had merely been caught with child pornography while driving back to the UK, and not captured on an abuse video.
It comes after the Met complained about Exaro’s “overly intrusive” investigation, as well as our disclosure that police had launched a smear campaign against an alleged rape victim who was a witness to Operation Fernbridge.
On the audio file, however, a Customs officer is asked whether “certain MPs” were included in the videos.
He replies: “It was a member of the cabinet.” He goes on to name the ex-minister.
We are not revealing the names of either the former Customs officer on the recording or the ex-minister on the video.
MPs will pass the audio file to the inquiry, which is to investigate many institutions in the UK – including political parties – over the sexual abuse of children.
They may pass it to police, but they are concerned about the evident lack of willingness at the Met to investigate the ex-minister properly.
Exaro was asked to listen to the audio to check whether it is genuine. We were able to verify its authenticity.
We did not carry out the recording.
One option is for MPs to arrange for Customs officers who were involved in the seizure of the video to be called to a hearing at a select committee in Parliament. This would potentially free the officers of the constraints of the Official Secrets Act, which is seen by many MPs as crucial to uncover the truth about claims of MP and VIP paedophiles.
On the digital recording, which is understood to have been recorded in February, the Customs officer refuses to say what the ex-minister is seen doing on the video.
The officer is plainly reluctant to say much on the recording about the incident, and expresses fear of prosecution for breaking the Official Secrets Act. But he clearly identifies the ex-minister as appearing on the video.
He says: “That person was involved, and that is why we had to seal the video. And then the department, the superiors took over.”
He was not surprised that there was no criminal action against the ex-minister, he added.
The audio, as well as the video if it can ever be traced, will be crucial evidence for the newly-announced inquiry into child sex abuse.
The inquiry had an uncertain start after Baroness Butler-Sloss had to stand down as its chairwoman. It came after Theresa May, home secretary, was warned that the baroness’s brother, the late Lord Havers as attorney general, limited an investigation into the sexual abuse of children 30 years ago at Kincora boys’ home in Northern Ireland.
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