There has been anger and disbelief among many of the late Leon Brittan’s friends that his name has become public in connection with the current Met police investigation into historical child sex abuse dating back to the 1980s. In one sense it is understandable. Who would want to believe that the person they invite to dinner, meet in the House of Lords, have known for years, could be remotely considered a serial paedophile. So the reaction from Lord Deben ( better known as John Selwyn Gummer), Edward Garnier MP and David Cameron after his recent death is not unusual.
But the attack in the Sunday Times by Dominic Lawson, a former editor of the Sunday Telegraph, is a different matter. By taking the argument that those who say that he could be a paedophile – such as Tom Watson and Simon Danczuk are part of a frenzied Labour left-wing plot to get back at Tories close to Margaret Thatcher,he is way off the mark.
As an investigative reporter not only does this line of argument not stand up – but the facts of the case are against him.
For a start he questioned whether “Nick’s ” account about Leon Brittan and others sexually abusing him was accurate. Yet ” Nick” has already been described by the Met Police as ” a credible witness”. They do not do such a thing lightly. and they certainly don’t do it just because Tom Watson or Exaro News say so. They make up their own mind.
Second if he started to examine the known facts about the allegations against Leon Brittan he might have pause for thought. ” Nick” is not the only person to make these allegations. Separate allegations have been made by more than a handful of other survivors and a number are still being followed up by the police because they involve other people.
As a journo if you want to establish the probability of a fact – one of the most compelling arguments is when two or more people who did not know each other give a similar story. So unless Dominic Lawson is going to argue that there is a wicked conspiracy among survivors across England to name and frame Leon Brittan for some unknown reason this does not stand up.
People also forget that the case against Leon Brittan is not only made by survivors – who as kids as young as nine or eleven would not easily recognise Cabinet ministers – but by members of the public.
The original reason why Elm Guest House was raided in 1982 was not initially because children complained about sexual abuse but because the residents in Barnes got thoroughly fed up with an unruly B & B in a quiet street, with cars turning up at all times of night. It was a resident who allegedly said she saw Leon Brittan going there. Certainly the police from separate sources have established that Sir Cyril Smith went there.
And other people, not just survivors, are now coming forward saying at least there was one flat in Dolphin Square where young people were invited to gay sex parties.
Of course they may now be a clamour for the Met to stop investigating him – but the investigation is on going because they are people who were allegedly there with Leon Brittan who are still alive.
Finally if some one is likely to be charged – the most likely person which both Leicestershire and Met Police say they are currently investigating – it is Lord Janner. Now unless Dominic Lawson knows something I don’t ,I can’t recall Lord Janner ever being in Thatcher’s Cabinet. He is a former Labour MP and if his argument is that the sex abuse scandal is based on Leftie political revenge on the Tories – I have not seen Tom Watson or Simon Danczuk rushing to protect him for the sake of Ed Miliband.
Frankly the thesis of Dominic Lawson is a bit of old tosh – pressure for an overarching child sex abuse inquiry had all party support – Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green. It was precisely the idea of Conservative Mp, Zac Goldsmith, to do it this way – to prevent it becoming a party political matter.
In his frankly partisan piece Lawson – I suspect in grief for a friend he sees unjustly accused- has broken that. And shame on him for suggesting it.
I now see following the Times revelations today(July 23) that indeed the Cabinet Office did have documents which named Leon Brittan in connection with child sex abuse allegations but they were suppressed. I hope Dominic Lawson will reflect on the findings.