by Tom Watson
It’s ten days since I raised a question about intelligence suggesting a paedophile ring that touched the very heart of a previous government. I’d done so because a very credible retired child protection professional had lived with a gnawing suspicion of a cover up for many years.
These people are the rarest of human beings. They’re the people who labour in anonymity, day in day out, trying to make the world a better place. They have always been the foundations of our public services. Yet this retired public servant had, through a quirk of fate, stumbled on something that appeared so huge, that almost everyone he’d ever raised his concerns with had baulked at the challenge.
Since then though, many more ordinary people have contacted me about suspicions they have had of a wider wrongdoing – in some cases so heinous it made me cry.
They have talked of psychopaths marking children with Stanley knifes to show “ownership”. They tell of parties where children were “passed around” the men. They speak of golf course car parks being the scenes for child abuse after an 18 hole round.
And they have named powerful people – some of them household names – who abused children with impunity.
Two former police officers have raised their concerns of cover-ups. Child protection specialists have raised their fears that the network of convicted paedophile Peter Righton, the nexus of the group, was wider than at first thought. Others have identified a former cabinet minister who regularly abused young boys.
Some have raised mysterious early deaths, disappeared children, suspicious fires, intimidation and threats.
These allegations go way beyond the claims made on BBC Newsnight yesterday. Newsnight failed to name the paedophile mentioned by a North Wales survivor. I can understand why. A career can be destroyed by an allegation of such magnitude. There needs to be a high bar of proof.
Yet the thing I learnt most from the hacking scandal, and for that matter, the Savile case, is that the intelligence was staring the police in the face. These people were hiding in daylight. So powerful, so brazen in their actions, those who had an inkling of what was happening turned a blind eye.
Or maybe none of this happened. Maybe the 50 plus emails and numerous phone calls and letters I have received were all from fantasists. Maybe the allegations of the victims – made for many years, consistently to anyone that would listen, maybe they’re bogus.
One thing is for certain: someone has to join the dots. And that should be the police. There are a few hardy child protection specialists who for many years, have been burrowing away, trying to uncover the truth. Their work and insight should be taken more seriously. The police should work with them.
The hacking scandal was about the police failing to follow clear leads of wrongdoing by powerful people. They could do this because politicians turned a blind eye.
This is potentially worse. Some of those powerful people involved in a cover up may well have been – and could still be – powerful politicians.
I’m not going to let this drop despite warnings from people who should know that my personal safety is imperilled if I dig any deeper. It’s spooked me so much that I’ve kept a detailed log of all the allegations should anything happen.
As I type this blog post, I’m half-smiling about how insane all this appears. It sounds like I’ve taken leave of my senses – just like they said I had during the early days of the hacking scandal. Maybe I have. Yet with a properly resourced investigation, with the voice of victims being heard in public and with the political will we can get to the facts.
I wish I could fight the case of everybody who has been abused by a paedophile who has so far got away with it, but I can’t. That is a job for the police. Up and down the country private grief is being stirred by these stories. I cannot help in each individual case, but the police and support services can, must and will. If you were abused a long time ago and want justice now, go to the police. It is not too late.
What I am going to do personally is to speak out on this extreme case of organised abuse in the highest places. At the core of all child abuse is the abuse of power. The fundamental power of the adult over the child. Wherever this occurs it is an abomination. But these extreme cases are abuse of power by some of the most powerful people. Abuse of trust by some of the most trusted. It is a sickening story, but one which – like the truth about Jimmy Savile – is now going to be told.