For the past two years police have been investigating allegations that a network of paedophiles, including MPs and other prominent figures, sexually abused boys from council care homes at a guest house in Barnes, south-west London in the 1980s.
Two Tory ex-cabinet members, four other Tories, two Labour MPs, one of whom has since died, and deceased Liberal MP and paedophile Cyril Smith, were named in the documents, along with others linked to the conservative Monday Club, a dead leading figure of the British fascist movement, a Sinn Fein member, two Buckingham Palace officials and two pop stars.
The documents also showed 16 boys “recruited” for Elm Guest House from council-run children’s homes in the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames, including nearby Grafton Close, Rodney Road and Teddington Close.
Scotland Yard has confirmed it knows of at least four boys who were abused at the guest house, which was recommended in a Conservative newsletter and advertised in a magazine with a coded reference to the underground paedophile network “Spartacus”.
Police said they have “talked to” the so-far unnamed ex-Conservative cabinet minister about his attendance at a “party”.
A key witness also claims notorious paedophile Jimmy Savile attended some of the “parties”.
Friends of Haroon Kasir, an ex-manager of Elm Guest House, claimed Kasir described himself and Savile as “best friends” at one time, and that Kasir “started to behave strangely after Jimmy Savile died.”
In January 2014 Operation Fernbridge became a murder investigation with police investigating possible links to the child killer Sidney Cooke. They believe Cooke organised some of the “parties” and could have been involved in the murder of a pre-teen boy in a basement flat in London in the early 80s.
Operation Fernbridge has developed from enquiries made under Operation Fairbank, prompted by questions raised by gutsy lone voice in parliament, Tom Watson MP, pursued with determination by investigative news agency Exaro, and ultimately sourced from the brave testimonies of victims and witnesses who have come forward to expose the unspeakable.
But this is not the first time the police and Richmond council have heard such allegations.
The London borough of Richmond council’s former head of children’s services Terry Earland revealed last year that he referred complaints of child abuse to senior figures at the council and the police on two occasions, three decades ago.
Earland told Exaro “There was never any doubt in my mind that children were being used at Elm Guest House.”
He said the allegations were discussed within the council, but the complaints were not properly investigated.
“We talked about people in high profile places being involved in this. It was senior politicians and judges.”
Earland also told of a call he received from police, alerting the council to a planned raid of a party of up to 30 men in 1982. Police requested a social worker be present.
However the raid went awry when an undercover police officer accidentally triggered the transmitter hidden in his fake arm plaster cast, calling the raid in prematurely.
Police did not find any boys at the guest house who were in council care.
The then-director of social services at Richmond council, Louis Minster, recently denied having ever heard of any sexual abuse allegations at Elm Guest House, despite his senior position at the time of the widely-reported police raid. Police are now investigating his sacking in 1984.
Police are in possession of council documents detailing a historical statement, backed by “gruesome medical evidence”, alleging sexual abuse at Elm Guest House.
Documents also show Richmond Council secretly paid compensation to at least one person who was sexually abused as a boy while in the care of the council.
Civil proceedings were made against the council and one of its employees. It is not clear if the council admitted liability in the case, and it has since refused to comment on the payment made.
Part of the current Met investigation asks why police apparently failed twice to investigate claims that former senior Tories and other VIPs visited Elm Guest House to sexually abuse boys.
Back in 1982 neighbours complained of very young people and expensive cars turning up at the property.
Police placed the guest house under surveillance, botched the aforementioned raid, and established its use as “disorderly house” – a brothel.
The case was closed and no investigation into the visits by establishment figures was pursued.
In 1990 co-manager of Elm Guest House, Carol Kasir, a diabetic for years, died an from insulin overdose aged 47. Two representatives of the now-closed, government-funded National Association for Young People in Care (NAYPIC) told the coroner’s court that a Richmond council-run children’s home, Grafton Close, supplied boys under the age of 14 to the guest house for pornographic and sexual purposes.
One witness said he had seen pictures of an ex-Tory minister in a sauna with naked boys, as well as pictures of a former top policeman and deceased Russian spy Anthony Blunt. The other witness said the guest house was frequented by top police and judges.
Results so far
Since the initial investigation began (under the name Operation Fairbank) in 2012, three people have been arrested – an ex- co-manager of Elm Guest House, John Stingemore, a priest, Tony McSweeney, who are both due to stand trial on May 6, and the half-brother of a Tory MP. However the police have already dropped some of the charges against them
Keep an eye on Exaro’s story thread for more updates.