Child abuse investigation propels site to over 200,000 hits in 3 years

Just a service note to say the number of hits on this website has exceeded 200,000 since it was launched just over three years ago.

The recent momentum has been propelled by the investigation into child abuse at the Elm Guest House in Richmond,London where a team of reporters based at Exaro News (http://www.exaronews.com) have been starting to unravel this enormous historic scandal. Most of the stories into the child abuse have attracted between 1500 and 3000 hits. The only higher ones include some of the investigations into the privatisation of the London fire brigade, Brian Coleman, the demise of NHS Direct, and the very disturbing report into strip searching of women and bad treatment of gays at Gatwick Airport.

Thanks to all the people reading this non-profit making site and for supporting genuine investigative journalism.

Exclusive: Police re-open investigation into London political paedo ring

Elm-Guest-House (1)

ELm House Guest House,Barnes as it is now : Picture courtesy: Exaro News

Exaro News ( http://www.exaronews.com) today reveals that for the last two months the police have secretly been scoping a new investigation into senior politicians and their involvement in a paedophile ring, involving  under age boys, that took place in the 1980s.

This is separate to the current Operation Yewtree  investigation into Jimmy Savile and other celebrities, which mainly involves under age girls.

They are looking again at a raid that took place in 1982 on a  guest house in Barnes, south London, which appeared to be being used as a gay brothel and was frequented by prominent figures including, I am told, ministers, Tory MPs, a Liberal MP and two Labour Mps. Under age boys in  the care  of Richmond council and other local authorities were  visiting or staying at the guest house.

The inquiry-under the title Operation Fairbank – will also examine whether there was a cover up which meant that the Met Police at the time and when complaints about it resurfaced twenty years later  never followed up the investigation. Nobody was ever charged with any offence, even though the place had been raided and people bundled into police cars.

The place – 27, Rocks Lane  in Barnes – is now a very respectable and none of the people living there now having to do with events when it was the Elm House guest house between 1979 and 1982.

Exaro News was put on to this inquiry by a former Richmond Council official and trade unionist and we took him to give evidence to the police who were already investigating similar allegations passed to Tom Watson, the Labour MP. He raised the issue of the 1980s paedo ring in the Commons.

Exaro News will be covering this scandal over the next few days, starting today, and are still investigating, these, and other more serious allegations in other parts of the country. I shall be blogging in more   detail about the difficulties facing the police in handling such a difficult and fraught investigation.

Suffice to say anybody who believes that Tom Watson has raised this issue for pure political gain and this is  a fabricated story better  think again very carefully. I know it has very wide ramifications and could  lead to a scandal even bigger than the hacking inquiry.

BBC Newsnight:This hysterical media frenzy must not obscure the real child abuse story

BBC Newsnight; Frenzy could obscure the real child abuse issue Pic Courtesy:BBC

Prompted by the mass media interest in the North Wales child sexual abuse scandal last week  I was asked on the Today programme whether I  thought there was a witch hunt against  leading Tory figures. I said No.

If I was asked the same question about a witch hunt  this week, I would say unhesitatingly say yes. But not against Tory politicians, against the BBC and the cause of investigative journalism.

Don’t get me wrong I am appalled by the shoddy journalism that meant a paedophile victim was not shown a photo of his alleged perpetrator – whether he would be named or not – and the scandal that followed the naming of the unfortunate Lord McAlpine across the internet.(see original Guardian story –   http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/nov/08/mistaken-identity-tory-abuse-claim).

Anybody in touch with reality should know that when the victim was a young vulnerable person in a care home  he would be very unlikely to know the names of any Tory politicians. Ask any young person today , and unless they are a political nerd like me, they are more likely to be able to name the Man U and Chelsea front bench than be able to tell  you any of the names of  Dave Cameron’s  coalition Cabinet. And I am puzzled why a much better researched programme on Jimmy Saville was not broadcast..

What is alarming me  is the media hysteria surrounding this. Journalists are natural gossips,nervy, adrenalin fuelled, and totally obsessed with the workings of their own trade. Joe Public, while  naturally alarmed that organisation like the BBC should get such a major fact wrong – and rightly unhappy that an elderly senior politician should be traduced in this way, is by no means so obsessed.

The resignation of the BBC director general should allow the BBC to put its top-heavy chain of command in order and get a proper grip on the way it commissions its investigative journalism work. As readers of this blog will know I am not an uncritical fan of the Beeb, previous blogs attacked it for wasting money on moving offices, its failure to be properly accountable to Parliament, and its tax affairs. I did not call it the British Tax Avoidance Corporation for nothing.

However the idea that everyone in Newsnight is as dead as a dodo is frankly nonsense.  My own experience in bringing with Exaro News  an outside story about the scandal of the tax avoidance practice surrounding the appointment of Ed Lester, the head of the Student Loans Company, gives a  different impression. Peter Rippon, the then editor and a young producer, Robin Punt ( now on loan to BBC South East ) could not have been more thorough and  Robin was prepared to spend hours examining the hoard of  Whitehall documents which disclosed the scandal. They could not have been more professional. Nor were they fazed that the BBC would come under the spotlight for the same thing I was investigating, they were interested in the story. And it proved right, sparking a government investigation exposing 2500 others.

But my main complaint is something else. We are still in the middle of a very serious investigation into what  happened to a lot of very vulnerable young  people and whether they were used for the sexual gratification of older men while they were in the care of the community.

I firmly believe that by no means everything has come out about this troubled period in the 1980s and 1990s but I am not going to speculate while I am still gathering evidence. There is certainly enough to prove that people did raise this appalling spectre not just in North Wales and it was known to the authorities. But it is too early yet to point fingers at particular perpetrators.

It is vitally important that people who know about this and the victims can come forward with the confidence to  talk to the police. It is a  valid role for journalists to investigate this area – not least because we are the one group of people who have the time and ability to tell this sad story. Also the very knowledge that journalists – and in this case Mps like Tom Watson –  are determined to get to the bottom of this matter – often spurs the authorities to keep digging  because we won’t go away.

There is another reason. That the care system allowed this to happen is appalling. If the stories of some of the victims are true, it is a life damaging criminal act and a betrayal of trust. But as the  Newsnight debacle shows it must be accurate and it must not trash the reputations of other people.

Today’s care system also needs reform after the appalling grooming scandal in Rochdale. Have we learnt anything and could this happen now?

If I want anything out of this I want social workers, local government officials, the police  and the perpetrators of such foul deeds to think twice before either condoning or participating. I want them to think like many politicians do already ” what would this be like if this was published on the front page of  The Sun, the Daily Mail, The Guardian or leading the BBC News?”. And then not do this or blow the whistle on such dark deeds.