Investigative reporter, Don Hale, who saw the dossier on child abuse amongst establishment members in the 1980s, tells LBCs James OBrien about the explosive information it contained. Live.
A key debate on BBC Radio 4 Today programme about claims of historic child abuse at Westminster by politicians and prominent people. Investigative journalist Don Hale and Home Secretary Theresa.
So-called human rights lawyer Ben Emmerson e-mailed panel members to warn them not to talk publicly. The Westminster abuse scandal we should all be talking about, but arent In .
if I just sort of set the set the stall out you can take up your own tail you you were approached by Barbara castle then a very prominent Labour MP in the 1980s I presume 1984 and she gave you documents and asked you to look into their contents that's right yes he was I was headed to the local paper there I knew Barbara from several years before I used to work with the BBC and had interviewed it before and when I went to the newspaper she became our local euro MP so it was a good relationship that continued we used to meet them quite regular every Friday and just have a chat output in the world to rice and you know gradually came to me and said you know I don't suppose he'd be interested in this and started to feed me some information and bring in some some documents and you know it's quite explosive really in terms of what she was showing me here that there was you know a pedophile ring operating within the powers of Westminster and that many of the members were actively supporting the PI Network the paedophile information exchange network and an iPhone it quite amazing and she gradually came in with more and more pain do we know where she was getting the documents from yeah she got contacted within the house and they were feeding information to her she'd actually been an MP for donkey's Joe's really but it sort of left their quit and gone as a your own people she's still kept in touch with him and a lot of her contacts were feeling her really no serious information here about people that were meddling in in the PI Network and the aim really was to try and get enough support within Westminster to make it legal to have sex with children and she was absolutely appalled by this and wanted to obviously put a stop to it and the dossier that Geoffrey Dickinson had given to Leon Brittan do you think that that examined similar territory do you think some of the stuff that Barbara castle got her hands on may have been contained within that original dossier I'm absolutely positive he would have done I mean she came to me probably about six months or so after the the Dickens report to come through so I wasn't too clued up to be but to be honest about the Dickens thing because it was all sort of fairly confident in those days but she must have seen that she had a absolute wad of documents she came in one day with a briefcase absolutely chakra with with information photographs and all sorts of things she gave me a limited amount of paperwork which was enough to perhaps ruin a story and asked if I would do it as well the only way I can do it is on the back of you in fact you're doing it as the local your own you're instigating this this inquiry and I think what she had mainly was intelligence about a second inquiry that maybe Leon Brittan had instigated in terms of looking into the Dickens dossier because I think this the timing was was probably about right in terms of maybe six six months nine months after that had been registered and so I think there was a second inquiry going on within Westminster to see who may have been involved in all this and plenty of the paperwork she gave me involved minutes of meetings copies of meetings people that fringe basis really within Westminster people who were supporting the PI Network there was a lot from the National Council of civil liberties and things that were involved as well but there were a number of people that were listed as actively promoting and supporting the PI Network to actually provide speakers from the PI Network at its fringe meeting and these politicians were named in these yeah a lot of them were named I mean I cannot remember all the names now but there was there were two specific lists one was a list of sixteen active MPs and peers that were involved with this another was a list of about thirty people who were supporters there were mention of heads or private schools or the teachers or but with scale groups and organizations from the church and things like that that were again funding and actively supporting this very MPs were named in sort of if you want to get a speaker finder contact roads boy stone for instance he was somehow involved with the distribution of the magpie magazine which was the PI magazine and there were copies of adverts that were flagged up here where they were openly promoting open weekends at different public schools for boys and things and different eventing in mainly involving their children boys were flagged up as something that's worthy of the notes there was an awful lot of information in there it was too much information in it since the room once before he would have you know probably went to saga but Barbara had said to me she'd been to national newspapers and they weren't interested it won't put you with a bargepole you know why did she say why well reason was she given it was too sensitive they've been frightened off and I've done let me stop you there because you know better than anyone the news waits for none of us and it is approaching the 12 noon hour so we'll take the very latest bulletins for Britain and then return to Don Hale we left on just as the dossiers he'd been handed by the at the time she was a member of the European Parliament Barbara Cosby calls previously Secretary of State for employment and for Social Services I think had handed him as a as a journalistic friend a succession of files containing very very serious allegations about very very prominent people she had tried to give them to national newspaper journalists and being sort of turned away on the grounds that everything was a little bit too sensitive a little bit too close perhaps to the bone and so she turned to her friend in Derbyshire Don held on what happened next well I had to try and put things together and get into contacts I didn't actually read every single thing that was given to me but there was enough evidence there information naming names to contact the Home Office and to contact some of the key names mentioned too just to get a response and when I found the home property it was obviously very different to what it is now you were dealing with certain departments that were very aggressive to to journalists all they wanted to know the refused to answer any questions any trying to turn it back on myself to ask well who was giving you this information where he got it from how we've got access to this information etc etcetera and it was very similar whenever a contacted any of the personalities involved that eventually I was told them by the liberal organization that somebody would would come and basically put me right they would come and talk to me about that and Cyril Smith turned up the very next day on my doorstep home or at the office so Cyril Smith MP for Rochdale at the time turns out personally on your doorstep as a direct result of questions you'd been asking about the contents of these days actually had interviewed him several times before I thought of him as I mean he's a bit of a rent equality we all need those done we all need those we do I know I was going with him very very well before that but within 10 seconds have been arrived and he went from mr. nice guy to mr. nasty was was really threatening and aggressive it's a big guy anyway but he was really pointing fingers banging on the desk and demanding I hand over all these papers to him well there's no way I was going to do that I was saying you know this has started my inquiries and I wanted response to that he refused to give respond eventually stormed out the next thing you had was the following days Special Branch arrived with a gang of policemen and they again wanted demanding access to the files they want to take everything away making all sorts of threats and things you know if was I prepared to hand in the files and I was asking what for what reason and that they say you know that's for us to know it is not in the public interest it distressed potential threat to national security you have to hand these files to us are you prepared to do so if you don't we'll arrest you on the spot you could face two years in jail now I was in possession here of some very sensitive documents some of these have got actually not to be removed from the Home Office or for your eyes only confidential document so it's bang to rights in that respect was as a journalist I got very sensitive papers here so you couldn't object I've got a search warrant anyway their offices got all the files I was asked to say is this everything that's come forward yes and they took them all away and disappeared now when I saw him Barbour later in the day to pay about this I said you never guess what what's just happened and she said oh I half expected that I thought something like that might happen and I was absolutely gobsmacked because I said well I wish he'd told me because I might remember to do something about it but again when he think back you think well if I had copies files and I give him a word or assurance to them that it had everything and I still published a story I could still be in serious trouble of course you could and it's worth remembering that that they would be a security risk if the allegations within the more true it would expose every single person mentioned to blackmail by by foreign powers or by just about anybody did you see the revelations in the Sunday people this weekend on about the former deputy director of mi6 being yes you must be hearing a lot of bells ring at the moment as this well I mean the strangest thing with this since I should have broke the story about the barber customer fee a month ago I've been swamped really with MPs coming on to me people who were ex security services special branch flying squad etc police officers Bhatinda met all giving the information about where these files are probably are everyone knew one this was going to be a absolute waste of time life why do you say that why do you say that because he was given mission impossible he was a given a brief that was impossible to follow he was just really reviewing a review that had failed 12 months more ago you think the reason may was being cynical than when she appointed the chief executive and then the NSPCC to review other I think he was just set up to fail on this I don't think a hope in hell of trying to find these things in his direct it was so narrow he wasn't able to diversify I mean a lot of MPs have said a thing quite amazed that their piece wonderfully steam I'm not contacted me or contacted all the people who supplied vital information and I would say about this report I mean initially we're looking into the the Dickens dossier yes no I think that it's a little bit of a red herring nowadays because that was the start of this inquiry that's what kicked up kick started or 30 odd years ago I think that I'm sure that that's what Barbara by the same token that's probably been fragmented over the years but I do believe parts of that report do exist and I think there in various archives now probably including Barbara's on archives but I think what is such a chain in motion here what is missing from this I mean as far as I can see them from what I've seen so far the one that support it's not really looked into the proper paper trail it's not really interview people like Liam Britton who is now admitted having the Dickens report and passing it on to colleagues what we want to know is who these colleagues were what happened nobody can just walk into Liam Britain's office is how you should read this it goes through a system in the Home Office and there'd be a paper trailers there is a paper chair what was registered what was recorded and this is where senior officials have told me in the last few weeks that these documents were registered everything was itemized in these in these records that paper trail still exists you might not be able to identify all the ingredients but it would say statements from x y&z photographs from people other information that is relevant to to the Dickens dossier so that is that's the first part that is a paper trail and at the end of it we there must have been a conclusion Liam Britton must have had a report back from is in inquired to say this is what we recommend something like you're getting now from the one last report but I think with Barbara castles inquiries here she's obviously rattle a few cages there the home office have jumped about and set these special branch onto me there to try and prevent this information getting out but again is evidence clear evidence though there was some sort of second inquiry going on within sixty nine months after the Dickens report that Barbara knew about and again there must be a paper trail there and there must be a conclusion so we've got two narratives now Donovan we we've got the increasingly irresistible conclusion or suspicions that there was a high level of sex crime unfolded against your being committed against children during this period by some very high-level people and that that was for perfectly I suppose understandable or be a polaron reasons that there was a lid kept on that but now you've got the the the the modern narrative of Investigation in quotation marks and the question I'd ask you is whether or not you feel there is an appetite in Whitehall at the moment or in the home office at the moment to reason my statement to the house last Monday was very impressive was widely welcomed but do you feel that there is now an appetite to shine a light into the murkiest corners of this issue that you are one of the few people have already Dimps I don't feel there's any appetite whatsoever and I think it's getting harder now because you're six months away from a general election I don't think people want to rock the boat upset their own parties and I think they're all worried about their own seed so I think that rather sort of sit on the fence and what I'm getting back from the MPS is this sort of feeling as well the ones that have been contact with me they've also spoken about senior officials in the Home Office either current or retired who again are worried about the Official Secrets Act being thrown at them that they could lose the pensions they could be exposed and by mentioning certain names or certain parties it could bring the whole thing into disrepute they've not been given any assurance that if they talk to any committee or anybody else that there will be given some sort of immunity because the people who put you up against the wall so to speak in your in your office from Special Branch they will be legally prevented from telling their side of the story today well that's right I mean I spoke to John O'Connor he's the former head of the fire very well-respected guy he was has told me that he was in charge of that that organisation he was on notice that an investigation was going to come his way and then it didn't it didn't materialize whatever but he's told me he spoke there special branch in the 1980s that's the government protection unit they were ruthless there were Lauren's in themselves and they were working for the puppet masters their job was to protect the political integrity if you like of MPs and the Parliament and bearing in mind at that time as well that we had the Cold War going on they were worried this was a specialist unit that we're trying to protect embiez of any potential abuse allegations or attempts by blackmail to reveal secrets etc so again this doesn't always reflect in in modern report but that was quite crucial in those days and we have there's there's there's footage of a whip isn't there a conservative whip saying that they would use similar allegations to get to get conservative MPs to toe the party line they there's no footage of him saying it you know and if there were stories involving boys then we'd use that yeah I think with this report I mean when I went Barbie Custer gamer this information I contact the Home Office I contacted the key individuals mention here to say I never said for one minute that Barbara castle would give me this information I think reveal my source now when Cyril Smith came to see me is a very next a he knew Barbara castle had been to see me and over a period of time and I'm absolutely convinced that Barbara castle and other key individuals who were maybe rocking the boat at that stage would be monitored by Special Branch and that is why they came to see me he dogs reported back saying it's a waste of time he's not going to give me the information so they came in with the how they booth just got curiouser and curiouser I mean this has been almost reported as well Tony Robinson it was a Special Branch operative in the in my area in Lancashire at that time his job was to look you know he's dealt with political incidence of rather than criminal and again his job and others in Special Branch in that time was to look after individual MPs in sort of Liverpool Manchester the Northwest area that were liable to kick up dust and again they were there to protect the backs of these people we've got clear evidence here that those come forward so Smith for instance of several incidents where special branches have stepped in and prevented any prosecution even when uniformed officers uniformed officers were keen to continue to scrutinize further possibly even to you know investigate bring charges Special Branch would come and put the mockers on them according to the British on the carpet in the Midland area in Lewes miss was accused of something in a toilet in detention Birmingham and also found with a car boot full of child pornography in North Hampton and all these incidents were sort of swept under the carpet because of the intervention of Special Branch this was how powerful they were everybody was scared to death of them and they were there simply to protect the backs of the MPs no none of this is reflected in any documents that I've seen of late you know with the Cold War with their important data and again this fact that he's still there I convinced those certain MPs are still in power here but I think it's the party policy live on almost like to hold hands and try and block anything that's happening here because it can undermine faith in the political system well I think yeah it does I think when you talk to some of the UH things now that they've lost confidence in their own parties in that in terms of the way they're being shunned a little bit and I think they're becoming a little bit worried about their own seats and whether is actually going to be retained as MPs by party it could leave who knows what who knows what's gonna happen next on I'm late for the traveling is I've detained you for a lot longer than you agreed to already but what would you like to see happen next well this investigation going on is nesting quiet one without a chair yeah without a head I I would hope that they would look at all these other fringe activities we've got I mean I could say now where these other people have said where these documents are whether it be the main report or other subsidiary paws but I there is a chain that can be identified quite clearly here they also want to look at the archives from Barbara castle now since that since I mentioned a lot of a now being blocks or clothes or whatever and people who are still in around the area Jack Straw Neil connect or people that have had access to this information in the past according to to Barbara castle she's written to them they've written back in legal brimmed as well these are people that we need to bring into the debate to find out what was actually said to them and what their knowledge of the information is no no those are names that I mean that list can be added to almost every time these conversations I had Don Hale investigative journalist author of a town without pity about his work with Stephen downing the victim of probably the longest miscarriage of justice in British history you in this and started to feed me some information and bring in some some documents and you know it's quite explosive really in terms of what she was showing me here that there was a you know a pedophile ring operating within the powers of Westminster and that many of the members were actively supporting the PI Network the pedophile an information exchange network an iPhone it quite amazing and she gradually came in with more and more pain do we know where she was getting the documents from yeah she got contacted within the house and that they were feeding information to her she'd obviously been an MP for donkey's Joe's really but it sort of left quit and gone as your own people she still kept in touch with him and a lot of her contacts were feeling her really you know serious information here absolute wad of documents she came in one day with a briefcase absolutely Chalker with with information photographs and all sorts of things she gave me a limited amount of paperwork which was enough to perhaps run a story and asked if I would do it as well the only way I can do it is on the back of you know in fact you're doing it as the local you're and you're instigating this this inquiry and I think what she had mainly was intelligence about a second inquiry that maybe Liam Britton had instigated in terms of looking into the Dickens dossier because I think this the timing was was probably about right in terms of maybe six six months nine months after that had been registered and so I think there was a second inquiry going on within Westminster if I just sort of set the set the stall out you can take up your own tail you you were approached by Barbara castle then a very prominent Labour MP in the 1980s I presume and 1984 and she gave you documents and asked you to look into their contents that's right yes he was I was headed to the local paper there I knew Barbara from several years before I used to weigh with the BBC and had interviewed before and when I went to the newspaper she became our local Euro MP so it was a good relationship that continued and we used to meet them quite regularly Friday and just have a chat but in the world's arrives and you know gradually came to me you know I don't suppose you'd be interested about people that were meddling in in the PI Network and the aim really was to try and get enough support within Westminster to make it legal to have sex with children and she was absolutely appalled by this and wanted to also put a stop to it and the dossier Geoffrey Dickenson had given to Leon Brittan do you think that that examined similar territory do you think some of the stuff that Barbara Castle got her hands on may have been contained within that original dossier I'm absolutely positive it would have done I mean she came to me probably about six months or so after the the Dickens right to come through so I wasn't too clued up to be but to be honest about the Dickens thing because it was all sort of fairly confident in those days but she must have seen that she had a C who may have been involved in all this and pencils paper which she gave me involved minutes of meetings copies of meetings people that fringe basis really within Westminster people were supporting the PI Network there was a lot from the National Council of civil liberties and things that were involved as well but there were a number of people that were listed as actively promoting and supporting the PI Network to actually provide speakers from the PI Network at its fringe meeting and these politicians were named in yeah a lot of them were named I mean I cannot remember all the names now but there was there were two specific lists one was a list of sixteen active MPs and peers that were involved with this another was a list of about thirty people who were supporters there were