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Met’s paedophile unit seizes video of ex-minister at ‘sex party’

Detectives ‘talk to’ former cabinet minister about party where men sexually abused boys

By Mark Conrad, Mark Watts and David Hencke | 7 December 2013

Detectives have seized video that places a former Conservative cabinet minister at one of several parties where boys were sexually abused by men.

The Metropolitan Police Service’s paedophile unit seized the footage under ‘Operation Fairbank’, which is scoping historical claims against politicians of child sex abuse. It is investigating additional allegations against politicians and other prominent people under ‘Operation Fernbridge’.

The unit is focussing on a series of parties in London three decades ago at which boys were supplied for the sexual gratification of men.

Sources close to the investigation say that this line of enquiry will spin off from Fairbank to become a separate operation with its own name in the New Year.

Exaro has also learnt that police have “talked to” the ex-minister about his attendance at the “sex party”.

The ex-minister, according to the sources, confirmed to police that he was at the party, and that he “knew of” a specific victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons. But the ex-minister denied that he carried out any sexual abuse.

Exaro knows the ex-minister’s identity, but has decided against publishing it to avoid jeopardising police operations.

The police have obtained video that captures the ex-minister at one party. They are also talking to one victim in particular who was videoed at the same party.

Exaro can reveal that photographic evidence of the same victim at other “sex parties” in London was among material seized this summer from a known paedophile, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

The key witness told Exaro that the ex-minister could not deny that he attended one of the gatherings “because he was filmed at the party.”

He said: “They tell me that they have photographic evidence that I went to these parties. They have a photograph of me as a child, and it matched some other photographs that they have of me. They have quite a few photographs, and they have a bit of film as well.”

Detectives believe that some of the “sex parties” were organised by Sidney Cooke, the notorious paedophile who led the ring of four who were jailed for killing Jason Swift, a 14-year-old boy, in Hackney, east London after gang raping him in 1985.

Other notorious paedophiles went to some of the parties. They include Jimmy Savile, the late BBC star, and Cyril Smith, the late Liberal MP, according to the key witness.

Exaro revealed in October how detectives from the Met’s paedophile unit had opened two new lines of enquiry in their investigation of the ex-minister.

One strand of the investigation centres on the same victim’s allegations that he was trafficked to Amsterdam, where, he claims, he was sexually abused by the ex-minister. He provided the police with a highly-personal description of the ex-minister.

He also gave a detailed account of the gang that trafficked him as a boy, along with other children, from the UK to Amsterdam. He told police that Cooke was a member of the gang.

The Met has sought assistance from Dutch police for its investigation into the allegations.

A senior Dutch police officer travelled to the UK to attend an interview by Met detectives with the key witness.

In February, Exaro also revealed how Met commanders received a secret briefing by the head of the paedophile unit on its plans to arrest the ex-minister over allegations of child sex abuse. The detective chief inspector made clear that he was not planning to take the step imminently, but this is where he expected the investigation to lead.

While the video and photographic evidence places the ex-minister and the victim at a party where boys were supplied to men, they do not prove that the senior former politician carried out abuse.

But one source close to the investigation, a specialist in child protection, stressed the significance of the seizure.

He said: “This is potentially bombshell stuff. I have long been aware of the fact that these parties took place in London,” adding, “This is potentially very significant.”

The developments come as the Crown Prosecution Service is planning to drop key charges brought under Operation Fernbridge against two men accused of child sex abuse.

Update 11 January 2014: The Security Service, MI5, and Scotland Yard’s Special Branch are understood to be taking a close interest in the investigations by the Met’s paedophile unit.

The witness claims that MI5 officers sat in on a formal interview with him conducted by police. He says that police told him this after the interview.

He also claims that the Met’s Special Branch, which often works in effect as MI5’s police arm, is keeping close watch on developments.

Exaro has established that one section of the Met has been tapping the witness’s telephone.

It is also understood that a Special Branch officer has been posing as a journalist in an attempt to contact several witnesses in Operations Fernbridge and Fairbank. One officer falsely claimed to the key witness to be a reporter from the Sunday People.

The developments have raised alarm because of the intelligence services’ track-record to help cover up evidence of child sex abuse by senior politicians and other prominent people, such as Sir Cyril Smith, the former Liberal MP who was exposed as a paedophile following his death in 2010.

Related Stories: Child sex abuse, ‘Fernbridge’ and ‘Fairbank’: Exaro story thread

By Exaro

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