Blair government was briefed about police paedophile probe involving Labour minister BEFORE it was halted
The Daily Mirror has now obtained documents which prove that a police probe was being monitored by minister’s before it was stopped
Tony Blair’s government was briefed about a paedophile investigation in which a minister was a suspect before it was halted, previously secret documents reveal.
Scotland Yard’s anti-corruption command are investigating claims that evidence the minister was part of a paedophile ring in Lambeth, South London, in the 1980s was covered up.
Retired detective Clive Driscoll says he was stopped from investigating the Labour star in 1998 after he named the politician as a suspect.
The Daily Mirror has now obtained papers which prove for the first time that Mr Driscoll’s children’s home probe was being monitored by senior civil servants and ministers before it was halted.
They include briefings written for the Blair administration just hours after the detective allegedly first named the minister as a suspect.
The officer was removed from the investigation three months later.
The papers have been handed to anti-corruption detectives investigating the alleged cover up which is believed to be among 17 cases that were referred to the police watchdog in April.
The 111 pages of documents makes no mention of the minister being under suspicion while former members of the Blair government and the inspector who helped write some of the documents deny ever being told.
Nigel Goldie, a former council boss involved in the 1998 children’s home probe in Lambeth, south London, said after we handed him the papers: “I had a discussion with the government inspector about how we were going to handle this because of the huge political implications of a serving minister being investigated on suspicion of child sex offences.
“Understandably they said they would pass it up the management line.
“But the documents make no mention of this.
“Anything that was said would appear to have been ‘off record’. The people involved have to come out and be open and answer questions about what occurred.”
Mr Driscoll was removed from the Lambeth investigation, codenamed Operation Trawler, in November 1998.
Mr Driscoll said after we handed him the documents: “I was surprised to see no mention of the briefing I gave at the request of the SSI to Mr Nigel Goldie and the SSI inspector.
“I outlined the allegations and concerns made by witnesses about the suspects.”
The inspector who helped write some of the reports, their former bosses at the watchdog the Social Services Inspectorate (SSI) and former health ministers Paul Boateng John Hutton and Frank Dobson have either denied being told or said they have no recollection of a minister being a suspect.
The papers were released by the Department of Health and Care Quality Commission following Freedom of Information requests by the Mirror.
The anti-corruption investigation is focusing on a crucial meeting that occurred in the offices of Lambeth social services on the sixth floor of Mary Seacole House in Clapham on August 28, 1998.
Mr Driscoll and Mr Goldie say it was the first time the SSI inspector was told about the Labour star being in the frame.
A memo written later that day based on information provided by the inspector is marked with a handwritten note stating Mr Boateng and their then boss, the Secretary of State for Health, Frank Dobson, had been briefed.
Mr Driscoll began investigating when Lambeth children’s home boss Michael John Carroll, now aged 66, was arrested in June 1998 over child sex offences.
The detective soon traced two people who said the Blair minister and Carroll, known as John, had been friends.
A social worker said the Labour politician had made evening visits to Carroll’s Angell Road care home in Brixton in the 1980s while a youth worker said he had witnessed the pair on caravan holidays with vulnerable children.
A six page memo dated September 7, 1998, for Mr Boateng entitled “PAEDOPHILE INVESTIGATION – LAMBETH” stated that government inspectors would maintain “close contact” with detectives.
The document shows how closely the Blair administration was monitoring the police investigation, raising questions about what exactly was known.
The papers, released following Freedom of Information requests by the Mirror, also show that information was being passed to ministers verbally.
It is not clear if the dossier includes all written briefings for ministers.
Mr Boateng, now 63, was moved in late October 1998 to the Home Office as part of a reshuffle and was replaced by John Hutton.
On November 5 the SSI inspector attended another meeting where the issue of the minister being investigated was allegedly discussed again and a report was prepared for Mr Hutton.
No mention is made of the minister.
Mr Driscoll was issued with disciplinary proceedings and removed from Lambeth later that month.
The case against him was eventually dropped.
Six months later the SSI informed Mr Dobson that Mr Boateng had been told before he left the department that he would be excluded from updates about the Lambeth investigation.
A confidential memo, written by SSI Chief Inspector Denise Platt, stated Mr Boateng was at the centre of a “perceived conflict of interest” because his wife Janet had been the chair of Lambeth social services during a period in the 1980s.
Ms Platt, who was made a Dame in 2004 and is currently a trustee of the NSPCC, has denied being told a minister was being investigated or being “involved in providing any briefings” to ministers about the Lambeth investigations in 1998.
This is contradicted by the documents which name her as having briefed ministers and produced documents for them.
Her former deputy Jo Cleary also declined to meet, saying when approached at her home: “I have signed the official secrets act.”
She said she had “no recollection” of a minister being a suspect.
The SSI inspector has not responded to emails and calls after meeting our reporter in November 2013. The inspector declined to comment when approached at home last December.
Mr Boateng said: “I was not aware that any serving Minister had at anytime come under suspicion in relation to child sex abuse at children’s homes in Lambeth.”
He added: “I had no knowledge of allegations relating to child sexual abuse in children’s homes in Lambeth other than in media reports of the period.
“The issue was raised with me at some time during our respective periods of office in the Department of Health by the then head of the SSI Denise Platt.
“This was in the context of the investigation into the activities of Mr Carroll and the circumstances of his employment by Lambeth Social Services.
“This occurred in the course of one of our regular meetings in my ministerial office in Richmond House.
“She raised the possibility of a conflict of interest as my wife had for a part of the period concerned been Chair of Social Services.
“I readily agreed that as a Minister I should play no part in the departmental handling of the matter.
“I had had no previous knowledge of any Departmental engagement.”
Mr Dobson said: “There is not a shred of evidence in any of that documentation that any information on a minister being involved came anywhere near me.
“If anybody had briefed me that there was a minister involved I would have got in touch with the police or the home secretary but I wasn’t given such a briefing.”
Mr Hutton has denied ever being told a minister was under suspicion.
Carroll was jailed in 1999 at Liverpool Crown Court for ten years.
Scotland Yard refused to answer a number of detailed questions from the Daily Mirror more than two years after launching an investigation into the alleged cover up.
Do you have information about children who were sexually abused in Angell Road or on caravan holidays with John Carroll in the 1980s?
Contact the Mirror on 0800 282 591 or email@example.com
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