Lord Armstrong – who was Thatcher’s Cabinet Secretary for eight years – is now at the centre of accusations of a major Establishment cover-up of child abuse by leading public figures in the 1970s and 1980s
So it is perhaps not surprising that Lord Armstrong – who was Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet Secretary for eight years – is now at the centre of accusations of a major Establishment cover-up of child abuse by leading public figures in the 1970s and 1980s.
It has been revealed that he was urged by MI5 to help hush-up abuse allegations against a senior MP so as to avoid political embarrassment for the Thatcher government.
A document from November 1986 shows that Sir Antony Duff, then director-general of MI5, wrote to Armstrong about inquiries into one MP said to have ‘a penchant for small boys’.
Even today, despite years of official investigations into the claims and a top-level review into the loss of hundreds of Home Office files relating to the original allegations, Armstrong defiantly refuses to identify the suspect politician or even say if he is alive or dead. Can he really still believe that it is acceptable to be ‘economical with the truth’?
His attitude reflects an arrogant mindset that has for too long prevailed in Westminster and Whitehall.
The newly-unearthed files expose how protection of the Establishment took priority over the need to prosecute anyone suspected of paedophilia and over the safety of vulnerable young children.
In a letter to Armstrong about the suspected MP, Sir Antony warned that secrecy must prevail. ‘At the present stage...the risks of political embarrassment to the Government is rather greater than the security danger,’ he wrote.
In other words, if the rumours of a sex-ring were true and children had been abused, the welfare of the child must be subjugated to the national interest.
At the time, in 1986, there was little public discussion about the rumours. Whistleblowers were silenced, files mysteriously vanished and evidence which might have nailed the culprits was ignored.
Some scant information emerged in newspapers and during court trials of members of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) who were campaigning to legalise sex with children.
It wasn’t until DJ Jimmy Savile was finally exposed that historical sexual abuse was taken much more seriously.
In the 1980s, though, a brave Tory MP, Geoffrey Dickens, had done his best to expose the scandal. Convinced there was a conspiracy to cover up widespread paedophilic abuse in political circles and the security services, he leaked to Private Eye magazine the story that senior diplomat and MI6 spy Sir Peter Hayman (also a member of PIE), had escaped prosecution over the discovery of violent pornography found on a London bus.
He also tackled the Attorney General and was told that a packet containing obscene literature and written notes between Hayman and several other persons had been found, but the Director of Public Prosecutions had not pressed charges. It subsequently emerged during a trial against other PIE members that Hayman’s identity was protected by the Crown Prosecution Service and the police.
Irate, Dickens then handed a ‘massive dossier of evidence’ to Home Secretary Leon Brittan who promised to investigate the matter – but it was not pursued.
Dickens also confronted Mrs Thatcher about whether the convicted Soviet agent Geoffrey Prime had been involved in child abuse. She replied: ‘I understand that stories that the police found documents in Prime’s house or garage indicating that he was a member of PIE are without foundation.’
This was untrue, although it is unclear whether her answer was based on a duplicitous briefing from civil servants or security chiefs.
Undaunted, Dickens kept campaigning, although his house was mysteriously burgled, key documents disappeared, he received threatening phone calls and complained he was on a professional killer’s hit-list. The Home Office warned the Press off following his leads. And so everything went quiet. Looking back, of course, it is easy to understand why. National security and the reputation of the government were paramount.
This was still not the end of the Cold War and before the Soviet Union’s collapse. Duff’s revealing letter to Armstrong may have been written amid fears that a suspected high profile politician could be blackmailed by the Soviets into spilling British security secrets.
Only in the last three years has the truth finally emerged about the number of paedophiles in high places. In 2012, Labour MP Tom Watson told the Commons there was ‘clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network had been linked to Parliament and to No 10.’ A month later, fellow MP Simon Danczuk cited Cyril Smith as a serial abuser of young boys.
As a result of publicity following the Jimmy Savile scandal, men came forward saying they had been abused many years previously by the now dead Liberal MP.
In due course, campaigners and victims emerged with similar stories of a Westminster-linked sex scandal. Scotland Yard then set up an inquiry into Elm Guest House in Barnes, south west London, where it was claimed prominent men, including politicians, judges and public officials, abused young men in the 1970s and 1980s.
By July last year, more than ten men were reported to be on a list of alleged child abusers held by police.
In a separate development, Labour’s Lord Janner was accused of a string of sexual abuse charges dating back to the 1960s.
One of the main questions that is now being asked is how much the Thatcher administration – or, indeed, the Prime Minister herself – knew of the allegations of child abuse and the parallel cover-up.
One of her closest aides, MP Peter Morrison, has been linked with a series of incidents of child abuse in the 70s and 80s. They centred on children’s homes in North Wales and specifically the Bryn Estyn care establishment where it has been claimed that Savile molested boys. Even at the time, concerns were expressed privately about the wisdom of man bedevilled by such deeply unpleasant rumours to be so close to the Prime Minister.
Fellow Thatcher confidant Norman Tebbit has since admitted he heard about the allegations and confronted the MP, who denied everything. Lord Tebbit says he believes a VIP ring of paedophiles operated in Westminster over many years, covered up deliberately by those who felt they should protect the Establishment.
Perhaps, it is no surprise that Lord Armstrong should still refuse to be entirely open about the affair. Just a few months ago, when asked on Radio 4’s Today programme about a secret document that had warned Mrs Thatcher of the allegations of child abuse against Sir Peter Hayman, Armstrong told the BBC: ‘Clearly I was aware of it ...but I was not concerned with the personal aspect of it, whether he should or should not be pursued. That was something for the police to consider. My concern was implications of national security and international relations.’
How piquant that it was the same man, who, in 1987, used the memorable phrase about being ‘economical with the truth’ when he was cross-examined during the Spycatcher trial.
Former MI5 officer Peter Wright was trying to get permission to publish his memoirs against the Thatcher government’s wishes.
During a two-week cross-examination, Armstrong explained why he felt sometimes it was necessary to give a misleading impression.
It seems there were others within the Establishment who used this same tactic when dealing with rumours about a child sex ring operating inside Westminster.
They may have felt they were loyal to the Government, but their actions meant that it has taken 30 long years for the scale of the sex abuse scandal to be uncovered. And even now we may not know the full truth of it.
The story of child abuse among the elite is taken up by the Times. “Child abuse cover-up at the heart of government,” says the headline.
The story will provide a link to the abuse at Kincora Boys Home in east Belfast. Three senior care staff at Kincora -William McGrath, Raymond Semple and Joseph Mains – were jailed in 1981 for abusing 11 boys. At least 29 boys were abused at the home between the late 1950s and the early 1980s.
The British intelligence services allegedly kept a lid on the abuse. Why? Well, one of the convicted men, William McGrath, is widely believed to have been an MI5 agent.
Martin Dillon claims in The Dirty War, McGrath was leader of loyalist paramilitary group Tara.
Irish Central adds:
Back in 1973 a full-time missionary in Paisley’s church, Valerie Shaw, approached Paisley with horrific news. A senior administrator at the Kincora orphanage in Belfast and a close ally of Paisley named William McGrath was abusing boys at the home.Paisley ignored Shaw and refused to investigate.
Brian Gemmell, an intelligence officer in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, says a senior MI5 officer told him not to investigate Kincora.
Sean O’Neill and Francis Elliott notice papers “found” in a Cabinet Office storeroom amid a batch of “assorted and unstructured papers”.
A key paper from November 1986 shows Sir Antony Duff, then director-general of MI5, writing to Sir Robert Armstrong, the cabinet secretary, about inquiries into an MP said to have “a penchant for small boys”.
Who better than the secret service to keep secrets?
The MI5 chief writes that he accepts the MP’s denial and adds: “At the present stage . . . the risks of political embarrassment to the government is rather greater than the security danger”.
Will Justice Lowell Goddard’s inquiry ever get to see all the documents?
The newly discovered Cabinet Office files will be passed to the inquiry. They include documents and correspondence relating to senior Westminster figures including Peter Morrison, an MP who was Mrs Thatcher’s parliamentary private secretary, Leon Brittan, the former home secretary, and Sir William van Straubenzee, former conservative MP and junior minister.
Good. Drag them before the Beak. Make them talk.
All three are dead.
There are papers relating to Sir Maurice Oldfield, the former head of MI6, and his alleged connection to one of Britain’s most notorious abuse scandals at the Kincora boys’ home in Northern Ireland.
Sir Maurice is dead.
The Lobster No. 4, 1984 (via):
It has been claimed (in Sunday News 20th Feb. and The Phoenix, 19th Feb.1983) that at the heart of the disclosures over the Kincora scandal is an internal row in the intelligence services. A dissident faction is thought to have formed in the Secret Service. The scuffles over revelations concerning Kincora started with the writing of a book by Rupert Allason, pen name Nigel West, son of a leading MI6 officer.The original fight was about whether the KGB had deeply penetrated every aspect of British Intelligence. Now a lot of dirty linen is being washed in public and the background to the purges in British Intelligence in Northern Ireland and, perhaps, some details of the private life of Sir Maurice Oldfield, the MI6 chief, are likely to
emerge.“Bachelor Oldfield’s dislike of women except his aged mother was so notorious that even the Sunday Times included mention of it in an obituary. It is often wrongly assumed that Oldfield’s links with Ireland date only from his appointment as Ulster Security Coordinator in 1979. But as Director of MI6 throughout the 1970s he was not only closely connected with Irish affairs, including the Kincora operation, but was a regular visitor to Belfast.”
One story released, though not included in the Terry Report on Kincora, is the homosexual assault made on the attractive male personal secretary of Oldfield. At least one statement was made about the incident which occurred in Oldfield’s private apartment on the top floor of Stormont Castle. A senior English civil servant found the attractions of Maurice’s assistant too much and attempted to molest him. A scuffle ensued among the exclusively male gathering, as a result of which the civil servant returned to London.
Wikipedia is very good on Wallace:
John Colin Wallace is a former British member of the Intelligence Corps in Northern Ireland and a psychological warfare specialist.He was one of the members of the intelligence agency-led ‘Clockwork Orange’ project, alleged to have been an attempt to smear various individuals including a number of senior British politicians in the early 1970s.He also attempted to draw public attention to the Kincora Boys’ Home sexual abuse scandal several years before the Royal Ulster Constabulary finally intervened. He was wrongly convicted of manslaughter in 1981, for which he spent six years in gaol, until 1987.
The conviction was later quashed in the light of new forensic and other evidence that raised serious questions about the dubious nature of the evidence used to convict Wallace initially. The journalist Paul Foot, in his book Who framed Colin Wallace?, suggested that Wallace may have been framed for the killing, possibly to discredit the allegations he was making. This view was similarly expressed by Alex Carlile QC (now Lord Carlile), who later speculated that this may have been the motive not just for the alleged frameup, but also for murder.
Westminster paedophiles: Colin Wallace, Kincora, child murder and Sir Maurice Oldfield’s sick MI6 by Anorak | 23rd, July 2015