Exaro News Archive

Police probe ‘cover-up’ over Peter Morrison, Exaro debate hears

Robert Montagu makes impassioned plea at Exaro event for mandatory reporting of CSA

By Mark Watts and Matthew Gilley | 3 February 2016

Police have opened an investigation into why allegations against Tory grandee Sir Peter Morrison of sexually molesting underage boys were dropped.

Paul Connew, former editor of the Sunday Mirror, made the disclosure while speaking at Exaro’s panel debate on child sex abuse (CSA).

“Only this week,” he said, “I had to meet the police again because they have ongoing investigations into why Sir Peter Morrison was protected.”

Connew wrote for Exaro last year about the Sunday Mirror’s attempts to expose the late Morrison, former parliamentary private secretary (PPS) to Lady Thatcher when she was prime minister, for sexually assaulting underage boys.

Connew told the Exaro debate: “The sources were police officers who were sickened by the fact that Morrison had been arrested. But far from being ashamed, when he was taken to the police station – this applies in London and in Chester, his constituency – he pulled rank.

“He demanded to see the most senior officer there, phone calls were made, and, hey presto, nothing happened, or I think in one case, there was a sort of mild caution delivered.”

Robert Montagu, son of another late former Conservative MP, Victor Montagu, the 10th earl of Sandwich, said: “My story starts when I was seven, and my father was in his middle 50’s. My abuse started then, and went on for five years until I was 11.

“He was a very high-profile backbencher, and very popular, and a very loving man. No one knew about this secret side of him.”

Documents disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act showed last year that Robert’s father, who died in 1995, escaped charges in 1972 of indecently assaulting a boy over a period of nearly two years. He was let off with a caution after he promised that he would not see the boy again.

At the Exaro debate, Robert Montagu made an impassioned plea for mandatory reporting, a legal requirement to report any CSA complaint.

He said: “Until we have mandatory reporting in this country these abuses will continue to take place. They will continue in the family home, they will continue in schools, they will continue in colleges, in juvenile clubs and every place that children are gathered.

“We cannot have a situation in which people in a position of trust are informed by those children of what is going on in their lives and nothing is done about it. They must be obliged by law to declare what they have been told by a child.”

The entire panel supported mandatory reporting.

Meirion Jones, former investigative producer at BBC2’s Newsnight and BBC1’s Panorama, said: “Mandatory reporting is the only way we are going to change this climate.”

Esther Baker, the complainant in a huge police investigation into CSA allegations, including claims against prominent people, said that the media were still part of a cover-up, saying: “There seems to be quite a barrier surrounding the establishment.”

“It is all very well having the mandatory reporting after the event, but we need to be focussing on safeguarding so people cannot get to these children.”

In a special contribution to the debate, David Hencke branded the media as “totally schizophrenic” over the issue of CSA by VIPs.

And Mark Conrad talked about the “many falsehoods printed and broadcast” in recent months about ‘Operation Midland’, the Metropolitan Police Service’s investigation into allegations against VIPs of CSA and the murder of three boys by the group.

These amounted to “some pretty vicious and misinformed attacks on police witnesses, including the witness that we all call ‘Nick’. Not only are these articles often simply wrong, they also fly in the face of the sensible advice published by the solicitor general.”

“That advice asks all media not to prejudge the outcome of police investigations while they are still underway.”

And as the BBC reels from the exposure of CSA at the broadcaster and of its attempts to stifle such disclosure, Jones delivered a damning warning: “The lesson to whisteblowers is that you can’t trust the BBC.”

Click on the video to see the full, insightful Exaro debate last week, running to around one hour and 40 minutes.

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By Exaro News

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