Stingemore and McSweeney plead not guilty to all charges in Richmond child sex abuse scandal

John Stingemore, the former deputy manager of Grafton Close  children’s home in Richmond and Father Tony McSweeney,a Roman Catholic priest have pleaded not guilty to all 14 charges against them following the Operation Fernbridge investigation. A report is on the Exaro News website

Stingemore,aged 72, has denied five charges of indecent assault, one of taking an indecent picture and one of indecency with a child. McSweeney, a 66 year old priest ,pleaded not guilty to seven charges,  two of indecent assault, three of making indecent images  of children , one of taking an indecent image of a child  and one of possessing indecent pictures of children.

 Five charges against  both men made during the initial hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court earlier this year were not pressed. They included a conspiracy with persons unknown to commit buggery and two counts of indecent assault against Stingemore and one case of indecent assault against McSweeney.
 No date has been fixed for the trial. The hearing was subject to reporting restrictions.
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Met Police probe former Tory Cabinet minister and a filmed gay sexual abuse party

Met police have seized a picture and amateur film from a known paedophile of a gay sex party attended by a former Tory cabinet minister where boys were sexually abused some 30 years ago.

A report in today’s Exaro News and the Sunday Mirror  reveals that the Met Police’s Paedophile obtained the information under their Operation Fairbank scoping inquiry. The paedophile cannot be named for legal reasons and the ex-minister is not being named as it would interfere with police operations.

The unit is focussing on a series of parties in London three decades ago at which boys were supplied for the sexual gratification of men. 

Sources close to the investigation say that this line of enquiry will spin-off from Fairbank to become a separate operation with its own name in the New Year.

Exaro has also learnt that police have “talked to” the ex-minister about his attendance at the “sex party”.

 The ex-minister, according to the sources, confirmed to police that he was at the party, and that he “knew of” a specific victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons. But the ex-minister denied that he carried out any sexual abuse.

The new information obtained by the police follows two separate but linked operations,Operation Fernbridge and Operation Fairbank – one sparked off by one of my sources and the other by Tom Watson, MP who  made allegations in the Commons.

The police action follows a setback when the Crown Prosecution Service dropped charges against two people in connection with abusing boys at Elm Guest House in the London borough of Richmond. Separately the police made a decision to release without  charge, Harry Kasir, the former co-manager of the guest house.

While it would be wrong to speculate about police inquiries, I think it is worth pointing out that in this long investigation the Met Police Paedophile Unit seems to be woefully inadequately resourced to handle all the leads it gets. When you realise that fewer police are employed in this tightly knit unit than the Met Police employ to pursue the Plebgate affair and journalists from News International, you wonder who sets the priorities. It is not to say that Plebgate or News International should not be pursued, but one would have thought the life damaging crime of child sexual abuse should receive the highest priority for police investigations. excluding say murder or terrorism. It is clearly not

Elm Guest House owner released without charge

Harry Kasir, the co-owner of Elm Guest House in Barnes, south west London has been released without charge by the police.
A report in Exaro News today discloses that detectives at Operation Fernbridge released Mr Kasir who ran the guest house with his wife Carole and said to be the centre of a VIP paedophile ring between 1979 and 1983.
Investigations into Elm Guest House are still continuing by the police as are investigations into the now closed Grafton Close children’s home run by Richmond Council in south west London.
Kasir has refused to comment about what happened at Elm Guest House. He did not return calls seeking comment about the police decision to release him without charge.
Sources close to Operation Fernbridge told Exaro that detectives were hoping that Kasir would become a key witness. However, he refused to talk to them about his time as co-manager of Elm Guest House.
After a police raid on the guest house in 1982, the Kasirs were convicted at the Old Bailey of running a disorderly house – meaning a brothel – and fined £1,000 each. They were given nine-month prison sentences, suspended for two years.

The former Elm Tree Guest House i  Pic courtesy: Exaro

The former Elm Tree Guest House i Pic courtesy: Exaro

Crown Prosecution Service to drop some charges in Richmond child abuse scandal

The Met Police paedophile unit has suffered a set back in its long running investigation into historic child abuse in Richmond after the Crown Prosecution Service has decided to drop some of the charges.
A story in Exaro News mainly by my colleague Mark Conrad reveals that the CPS have done a U-turn by changing their mind over four out of the 18 charges against 71-year-old John Stingemore,the former deputy manager of Grafton Close children’s home in Richmond on Thames, and 66-year-old Roman Catholic priest, Tony McSweeney.
It is dropping the charge against Stingemore of conspiracy with persons unknown to commit buggery, along with two counts of indecent assault. But Stingemore, still faces six charges of indecent assault against five boys aged between 11 and 15, and two counts of taking indecent images of a child.
The CPS is also understood to have changed its mind about prosecuting one charge of indecent assault against McSweeney. McSweeney still faces one charge of indecent assault against a boy aged between 11 and 15, three counts of making indecent images of a child, one of taking indecent images of a child and a further count of possessing indecent images of a child.
The decision has left the witness bewildered at his treatment by the CPS, and he is seeking an explanation as to why prosecutors are dropping the charges when they had decided to bring them only four months ago.
He said: “I am devastated. It has taken me years to reach this point. The police knocked on my door when they sought information, and now this.” He is asking the CPS to review its decision.”
Curiously the CPS told him no other witnesses have said they were sexually assaulted at Elm Guest House, an assertion contradicted by another witness who says he gave the police a statement saying he was sexually abused there.The situation is about as clear as mud.

Why Tom Watson is dead right to call for child abuse FBI

Tom Watson MP: campaigning to get child sexual abuse cases investigated: Pic courtesy The Guardian

Tom Watson MP: campaigning to get child sexual abuse cases investigated: Pic courtesy The Guardian

Tom Watson, the MP who raised the historic child sex abuse issue that could involve politicians in the Commons, has this week called for the setting up of child abuse FBI.
In an article in the Sunday People and also on The Needleblog the MP forcibly questions why the National Crime Agency has failed to arrest any paedophile connected with an international ring or amorphous group.
Mr Watson told the Sunday People: “We’ve got an international policing operation that has netted hundreds of alleged paedophiles and the UK has failed to act on intelligence.

“This is completely unacceptable. It shows why we need a dedicated national team whose sole aim is to investigate allegations of child abuse.
“I think we need a proper team of officers who have investigative capabilities as well as powers of arrest.
“There are police officers who have been calling for it for years.”
Mr Watson’s call comes after the shocking news that ‘Project Spade’ had arrested hundreds of paedophiles -100 in Canada, 76 in the US and 164 in other countries
Almost 400 child sex slaves were freed and 341 alleged paedophiles arrested as part of the swoop.

I am not surprised about this. After observing the painstaking work the Metropolitan Police Paedophile Unit has done to unearth historic child sexual abuse cases dating from the 1970s and 1980s and the long time it is taking achieve results, I am not surprised.
The number of police officers working on this scourge is frankly pitifully low and I am amazed they have got as far as they have. The expertise in this area other forces have outside London is not brilliant either – and they are dependent on outside help.
But child sexual abuse does not always take place within the UK – indeed with the internet there is growing evidence that child sexual trafficking crosses the world. But I doubt David Cameron will want to commit any more public resources to stop it – he prefers to leave it to pressing, as he did today, for Google and Microsoft to take the lead in tackling child sexual abuse.

Exclusive on Exaro: New police leads in ex cabinet minister paedophile investigation

The Metropolitan Police’s Operation Fernbridge is following new leads in their investigation into sexual abuse allegations involving a former Tory Cabinet minister.
The investigation is now looking at new allegations involving links to gay brothels in Amsterdam and a now closed residential school with some special needs children in the North of England near Bradford. It is also looking at allegations from a boy in care in London who was taken out of town to a house where he was sexually abused by the same minster.
The full story by me and Mark Conrad is now on the free to view Exaro News website .
The disclosure should quell unfounded rumours that Operation Fernbridge is being run down and closed.
The main reason for this fear is that a line of investigation involving the ex Cabinet minister has hit a problem. A complaint dating from the 1960s by a young woman alleging rape by the ex-minister is not being pursued after the Crown Prosecution Service advised that the guidelines and law at the time could not justify the charge.
This just illustrates how difficult it is for the Met Police to pursue and get convictions in historic child abuse cases despite people thinking the police are not doing their job. However the disclosure that more leads are being followed up suggests the inquiry is very much alive.
Operation Fernbridge has already led to two people facing trial on multiple charges involving indecent images and sexual abuse.

Operation Fernbridge: Two appear in court

John Stingemore,the former deputy manager of Grafton Close children’s home in Richmond and Father Patrick McSweeney,a former Roman Catholic priest, appeared before Westminster magistrates court today. This is the first court appearance of people arrested under Operation Fernbridge
They were both bailed to appear before Southwark Crown Court on September 18.
A full report on the hearing which is subject to reporting restrictions appears on the Exaro website.
Father McSweeney’s lawyers said he intended to plead not guilty to five offences relating to the historic child abuse investigation in Richmond, Surrey. Mr Stingemore has entered no plea against 11 charges against him.

First charges in Richmond paedophile ring scandal

Two people were charged last night by the Met Police after authorisation by the Crown Prosecution Service in the Operation Fernbridge investigation.

John Stingemore,now 71 and the former deputy manager of Grafton Close children’s home was charged with eight counts of indecent assault, one charge of conspiracy with others unknown to commit buggery and two charges of taking indecent images of a child .

Father Tony McSweeney, aged 66,then a trainee Roman Catholic priest was charged with three counts of indecent assault, three counts of making indecent images of children,one charge of taking an indecent image of a child and a charge of possessing indecent images of children.

An updated report is on the Exaro News website.

The assaults involve seven children aged between nine and fifteen in the 1970s and 1980s. Both accused will appear before Westminster magistrates court in September.

Police are continuing their investigation into Elm Guest House,Barnes where it is alleged that boys were sexually assaulted by VIPs. The manager of the guest house, Harry Kasir, was recently arrested by the Met police, for having indecent images of children on his computer.

For legal reasons it is not possible to make any further comment because of the pending trial – a point made by the CPS in a blog statement today.

However as Richmond Council are not on trial I think a number of Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors and former councillors in that borough have a lot of questions to answer .They all repeatedly denied to me that they knew anything about  any child sexual abuse in that borough. Without my original source none of this would have been reinvestigated by the police.

Exclusive:Honoured by the Queen, mugged by David Cameron

 National child abuse hero Graham Wilner: Picture reproduced courtesy Rory Wilmer Photography

National child abuse hero Graham Wilmer: Picture reproduced courtesy Rory Wilmer Photography

This is  Graham Wilmer who received an MBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours at the weekend.  He received the honour because of his tireless work to provide support for the survivors of child sexual abuse through the Wirral based Lantern Project (.

His citation reads:“For services to survivors and victims of abuse.”

The letter from the Cabinet Office says the award was made on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

But what the Prime Minister gives, the PM also takes away.

Just as he receives his award – a pinnacle of achievement and recognition for a sexually abused kid who now helps others – the government is stripping him of any funding which virtually means his operation has no cash after September. The full story can be seen on Exaro News –

Funny  that. Cash is no longer available just at the point when  the Met Police investigations from Operation Yewtree ( Jimmy Savile and friends); Operation Fernbridge and Fairbank ( 300 leads into mainly gay sexual abusers of young boys) and Operation Torva ( just beginning to look at the Roman Catholic Salesian school order ( 30 or more victims, 20 or more priests and teachers under investigation) started by Graham Wilmer himself are bringing forward unprecedented numbers of people who need support. The Met Police has no money for supporting victims. And the extension of the North Wales investigation under Operation Pallial, is also bringing to light new victims, though to her credit Theresa May, the home secretary, has offered Home Office support to those victims.

How different is David Cameron whose Downing Street press office told me that he had put aside £10.5m over three years – and it turned out this was for rape crisis centres.

As Graham put it himself: “It is really time that David Cameron got his act together over funding to counsel people who have been sexually abused as children. You can’t have the police encouraging people to come forward as child abuse victims and then have no system of support for them.”

And then there is Liberal Democrat Home Office junior minister Jeremy Browne. All he could offer was a weasely worded letter to Mr Wilmer suggesting he contact the Merseyside police commissioner, Jane Kennedy for some cash.  But I can’t see how Merseyside police should be expected to fund counselling for three major national child abuse investigations. I think they have a few other matters to deal with.

Jeremy Browne and David Cameron describe child sexual abuse as an abhorrent crime. Obviously not abhorrent enough to find any money to support what looks like thousands  of victims.

Police abandon investigation into child sex abuser Sir Cyril Smith MP

 Westmonster MP: Child abuser Sir Cyril Smith  Pic Credit: dreamcatchersfor

Westmonster MP: Child abuser Sir Cyril Smith
Pic Credit: dreamcatchersfor

A report by my colleague Nick Fielding for Exaro News ( see ) reveals the former MP linked to child sex abuse cases at the Elm Guest House in Richmond,London to Rochdale where he was an MP is now off the hook. Full details on the site.

This is despite offers from the NSPCC  charity to provide a dedicated line for victims and growing evidence that Sir Cyril’s illegal activities involving young boys appear  to be on a similar scale to  the late  Jimmy Savile’s abuse of young girls which  are being vigorously pursued by the Met Police ‘s Operation Yewtree.

Greater Manchester police’s decision will add to the considerable disquiet on the internet that there could be yet another Establishment cover up over child sexual abuse cases when it comes to senior politicians. It will probably also calm the nerves of at least three Liberal Democrat peers who started their political careers in the London borough of Richmond in the aftermath of the Elm Guest House scandal which they conveniently would like to forget.

Public trust that the police will properly investigate these  historic scandals is paramount. Great Manchester Police have done people a grave disservice by letting off the hook someone whom they now acknowledge would have been prosecuted for a string of offences. It has been shown by the reactions of dismay, anger and suspicion to this post on Twitter.