A note on Lord Brittan

Yesterday, the Sunday Telegraph reported that DCI Settle of the Metropolitan Police had criticised the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA) for giving airtime to fantasists.

According to the report by the Telegraph’s Chief Reporter, Robert Mendick:

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Settle said claims of a Westminster paedophile ring operating from a guest house in south west London had been investigated over two years.

No evidence had been found to substantiate the allegations. Lord Brittan’s name was on a list of politicians and celebrities who, it was falsely alleged, had attended Elm Guest House in Barnes.

The list was traced back to Chris Fay, a one-time Labour councillor subsequently convicted of fraud. Detectives concluded that the list was bogus.

Well, it would not be for the first time. And it is not a surprise that Labour activists were spreading these poisonous false claims about Conservatives. It is crude political smearing.

Fay used to run an organisation called NAYPIC (National Association of Young People In Care), which in the early 1990s became seduced by urban myths about Satanic Ritual abuse, snuff movies and so on.

Unsurprisingly, the Home Office pulled its funding, once it fell down that particular rabbithole.

Back in the day, Fay/ NAYPIC had been promoting the claims of “Andrew” who claimed to have been sent to Amsterdam to participate in a film where a twelve year old as killed. Oh, and NAYPIC also claimed that a group called the “elite twelve” existed, which would pay several thousand pounds for young people to appear in snuff movies.

This is conspiracy theorising at its crassest.

But there is more. According to the historian Philip Jenkins, there was an orchestrated attempt to smear the moderate Conservative – and Jewish – Home Secretary, Leon Brittan, with paedophile slurs back in 1984. The sources were exposed by Private Eye as maverick right-wing extremist circles within MI5, the UK’s internal security service.

At the time, the UK security services were a law unto themselves. The same source/s had also disseminated homosexual slurs against Sir Edward Heath, Mrs Thatcher’s rival: see Philip Jenkins “Intimate Enemies” (1992), p. 80.

One hypothesis was that MI5 was riled when Brittan attacked their poor intelligence, following the Libyan Embassy siege in 1984, when the unarmed WPC Yvonne Fletcher was shot.

But, according to Jenkins, the problem lay deeper:

The Thatcherite elite benefitted from the recurrent association of their predecessors with degeneracy and cover-ups; 

so there were many besides [Geoffrey] Dickens active in promoting concern about sex rings and scandals, and the extravagant claims that often emerged…..

He goes on:

the intelligence services emerge as important clandestine claims-makers, generating rumours for the purpose of spreading political disinformation. 

And according to the Sunday Telegraph, the susceptibility to such smear-ops continues:

IICSA has continued with its Westminster strand despite the fact that there is no evidence that any VIP paedophile ring existed among senior politicians.

There is a reason why genuine survivors of abuse, such as Ian McFadyen, boycotted the IICSA from an early stage. It is an incompetent talking-shop which has been desperate to justify its existence, whilst local authorities concerned with child protection have had their budgets cut to the bone.

And, entirely predictably, it has been targeted by conspiracy theorists and attention-seekers.

But more importantly and disturbingly, was its creation a result of organised mischief-making by malicious actors spreading disinformation and the charge of organised paedophilia to promote mistrust?

I should point out that none of the Irish inquiries into historic child abuse have been prone to these problems. But Ireland is not so susceptible to mischief-making conspiracy-mongers. The harsh realities of its own history have innoculated it against malicious actors, whether state or non-state.



Philip Jenkins, “Intimate Enemies: Moral Panics in Contemporary Great Britian” (Aldine de Gruyter, 1992)