Exaro News Archive

Locals spoke of ‘the activities’ at guest house in police probe

Jilly Cooper included passage in book about ‘village talk’ of abuse at guest house

By David Pallister | 15 December 2012

Locals spoke of ‘the activities’ at guest house in police probeLocals in Barnes called it “the activities”. And it was the talk of the village for days. It even found its way into a book by the novelist, Jilly Cooper.

The author wrote about walking her dogs across Barnes Common three days after “the activities” when one woman said to her: “Absolutely disgusting.”

“And there is a house full of ‘those men’ four doors down the road from the brothel, and they said to me, ‘It gives us such a bad name. We are not like that with kiddies you know.’”

Cooper recounted this exchange in her book, ‘The Common Years’, published in 1984 and loosely based on her diaries that recorded 10 years of dog-walking on Putney and Barnes Commons.

“The activities” referred to a raid by up to 60 police officers late on a Saturday night in June 1982 on an Edwardian house in a leafy residential road in Barnes, overlooking expansive playing fields.

Cooper wrote: “We then had lots more lurid details about vicars and MPs caught ‘in flagrante’, running out of the brothel into the night in their underpants.”

Last week, the author was unable to remember more details. “Oh, ducks, it was such a long time ago,” she said from her Gloucestershire home. “I thought that it was just gross hyperbole.”

But the circumstances surrounding “the activities” are at the centre of a current police investigation into allegations that former senior Conservative figures and other prominent people sexually abused boys in the early 1980’s at a guest house in Barnes, south-west London.

Exaro revealed yesterday that the claims are at the core of ‘Operation Fairbank’, under which the Metropolitan Police Service’s paedophile unit, based at Empress State Building in Earl’s Court, west London, is looking into a wide variety of claims against several senior political figures of sexual abuse of children. The Met describes its enquiries as a “scoping exercise” ahead of a formal investigation.

The paedophile unit is also investigating why the Met previously closed two investigations into allegations about a VIP paedophile ring based at the Barnes property that operated then as Elm Guest House – and as a brothel. The house has since been converted into flats, and the current owners or occupants had nothing to do with its seedy past.

From 1979 to 1982, the eight-room guest house charged guests £6 a night. Its clients were mainly gay men.

Advertisements in London’s Capital Gay newspaper described it as “lively”. It offered “food, bar, sauna, solarium and video facilities”.

Other guests were allegedly part of a wide-ranging paedophile ring of ex-ministers and other prominent people, with boys recruited from a children’s home, Grafton Close, which was then run by the London borough of Richmond-upon-Thames.

A convivial German-born woman, Carole Kasir, ran the guest house. She was nearing 40 at the time of the raid, and had a troubled past.

Her young son and daughter were taken into care by Richmond borough council in 1980, and her marriage was in disarray.

After the raid, she was charged with keeping a “disorderly house”; neglect of a child; living off the earnings of a male prostitute, who was aged 17; allowing the house to be used for “habitual prostitution”; and possessing obscene videos.

The raid made front-page news in London’s gay Press, which saw it as an example of police anti-gay aggression.

But for the mainstream Press, this was about child prostitution – with security implications.

The Daily Express reported that “at least three MPs, a member of Buckingham Palace staff, leading lawyers, doctors and City businessmen” were involved.

Capital Gay, a newspaper that has since closed, said: “People at the guest house told Capital Gay that an MP did stay there from time to time. He used a false name and had a Lloyds chequebook in that name.”

“We were also told this week: ‘There were professional business people. We are talking about barristers, doctors, a couple of priests and a vicar.’”

Kasir was later convicted of running a disorderly house. Within a year, the guest house was closed. None of the clients was arrested.

Kasir claimed that she was duped about what went on at Elm Guest House, and feared for her life.

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Exaro News investigates matters of public interest and seeks to uncover the truth.