Hardly a day can go by without another revelation about another Establishment figure being a child abuser or worse.
The latest story reveals that MI5 knew the country’s chief prosecutor had covered up a sex abuse inquiry into Cyril Smith but did nothing because it was not its job to expose paedophiles.
The files released by the intelligence agency show it was aware that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had lied to a newspaper over its decision not to prosecute Smith. But MI5 decided not to make the information public because its duty was to “defend the realm” rather than to expose a prominent politician accused of being a paedophile.
Another similar case has seen ex-Tory prime minister Edward Heath named by Wiltshire police who tell us — far too late of course — that Heath would have been questioned over sex abuse claims, if he was alive, when they came to light.
Of course a glimpse at the internet will demonstrate that Heath has been under suspicion for abusing young men and worse for years — accusations that have always been swept aside by the Establishment.
Yet another inquiry into abuse by Church of England Bishop Peter Ball has revealed just what a corrupt and hypocritical bunch the religious arm of the British Establishment really is.
This time the high-ranking Establishment figure who conspired to cover up sexual abuse and other wrongdoing was non-other than the ex-archbishop of Canterbury George Carey.
An independent report found that senior Church figures colluded over a 20-year period Ball, who sexually abused boys and men.
This is just one arm of a veritable octopus of Establishment cover-ups that touches clergy, government, police, intelligence services — right up to the very peak of British society, including several ex-prime ministers and even one heir to the throne.
When Ball was first accused of gross indecency against a 17-year-old boy in 1992, a string of senior Establishment figures — including Carey, other top clergy, Cabinet ministers, a High Court judge, public school headmasters and magistrates — came forward in his support, lobbying the police and Crown Prosecution Service.
Ball’s lawyers also told the police they had a letter of support from a high-ranking member of the royal family. It wasn’t hard to guess which royal they wanted to think they were talking about. When he was arrested Ball was Bishop of Gloucester, which covers Prince Charles’s Highgrove Estate. Ball described Prince Charles as a “loyal friend.”
Even after his disgrace Ball was offered, and accepted, a home in a cottage on the Prince’s Duchy of Cornwall estate. He continued to enjoy close relations with Charles, even reading the homily at Charles’ father-in-law’s funeral in 2006.
All that high-level lobbying meant Ball escaped prosecution for the offense. He received only a police caution.
The bishop continued visiting public schools until 2007. A fresh investigation was opened in 2012, which led finally to his conviction for multiple and serious sexual abuse.
One of Ball’s victims, Neil Todd, attempted suicide three times before killing himself in 2012. In the recent church report Ball was portrayed as the victim, whereas the church offered little compassion for the vulnerable and young Todd, being “most interested in protecting itself.”
This is an echo of a much earlier report from Baroness Butler-Sloss, who in an earlier review of abuse by Church of England clergy admitted she was more interested in protecting the reputation of the church than anything else.
Theresa May, both as home secretary and today as Prime Minister, has staunchly refused to include abuse accusations about the Kincora children’s home in Northern Ireland.
Why is Kincora so important? Because there is abundant evidence that MI5, MI6 and other British intelligence agencies know that many high-ranking British Establishment figures were personally involved in the abuse. These included Lord Mountbatten — great uncle and mentor of Prince Charles.
It was Mountbatten who introduced the notorious Jimmy Savile into the royal family and paedophile Savile too became a regular Buckingham Palace guest and a mentor, adviser and fixer to Prince Charles.
Savile was never prosecuted but he certainly raped, molested and abused over a thousand children, many of them helpless patients in hospitals to which Tory minister Edwina Currie had given him uncontrolled access.
May’s refusal to include the Kincora boys’ home in the general inquiry is certainly because it would expose the connection between paedophiles, MI6, MI5 and the royals.
Prince Charles often described Jimmy Savile as one of his best friends. He wanted Savile to be Prince Harry’s godfather — wiser counsel stopped that but the two men shared holidays and much else.
Royal patronage and the Establishment cover-up that came with it certainly shielded Savile. He was never prosecuted and when he died the BBC broadcasted sycophantic tributes. Only later was the ghastly truth revealed.
These Establishment cover-ups go back a long way. Many years ago respectful press barons keen to get honours would keep royal and political scandals from the public view.
By the 1960s and ’70s it was more difficult keeping these things under wraps. Some say the new wave of mass cover-ups started with a dossier compiled in the 1980s by the late Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens and which he passed to the then-home secretary Leon Brittan.
Dickens, who died in 1995, told his family that he had details in the dossier that would blow the lid off the lives of powerful and famous child abusers.
In 1981, Dickens named the former British High Commissioner to Canada, Sir Peter Hayman, as a paedophile in the House of Commons. Parliamentary privilege meant he could not be sued for slander.
In October 1978, Hayman left a package of paedophilia-related material on a London bus. The police traced the package to him and then found his diaries describing sexual acts with children. Hayman was never charged.
In 1983, Dickens claimed there was a paedophile network involving big, big names — people in positions of power, influence and responsibility and threatened to name them too in the Commons.
In 1984 Dickens met with and gave his child abuse dossier to the home secretary, Brittan. Much later it would be revealed that Brittan too was himself an abuser.
Dickens received many threats for naming important and powerful paedophiles — threatening calls were followed by burglaries at his London home.
In 2013 Labour MP Tom Watson asked the Home Office for Dickens’s dossier. They told him it had been referred to the police at the time but had not been retained.
The matter was raised again in July 2014 by then Labour MP Simon Danczuk. Former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald said the circumstances in which the dossier had gone missing were alarming and recommended an inquiry.
Lord Brittan confirmed that he received what he described as a substantial bundle of papers from Dickens in 1983, when he was home secretary, and that he handed them all over to the relevant officials for further investigation.
A Home Office review said that information it received between 1979 and 1999 had been passed on to the relevant authorities.
Lord Brittan suggested his information had been passed to the police, but Scotland Yard told the Guardian it has no record of any investigation into the allegations.
According to the Telegraph, Mark Sedwill, then permanent secretary to the Home Office, admitted that it had lost, destroyed or simply not been able to find at least 114 potentially relevant files.
This has led to accusations of a high-level cover-up from some unexpected quarters. Senior Tory MP and former children’s minister Tim Loughton is one who has accused the Home Office of trying to hide the facts.
Lord Tebbitt has told BBC’s Andrew Marr he believes there had been a cover-up because at the time people instinctively tried to protect the system. “I think at the time most people would have thought that the Establishment, the system, was to be protected, and if a few things had gone wrong here and there it was more important to protect the system than to delve too far into it.”
May, who was home secretary for seven years, must take much of the responsibility for the most recent stages of the great cover-up.
She was finally persuaded in July 2014 to hold a review into many historic child abuse allegations. The independent inquiry into child sexual abuse finally tried to start work on July 9 2015.
May first appointed Baroness Butler-Sloss to chair the review despite the fact that she was the sister of Sir Michael Havers, who had as Tory attorney general suppressed the reporting of abuse claims in the 1980s. Butler-Sloss stood down as chair of the inquiry just a few days into the job.
The next chair was Fiona Woolf, who quickly resigned when it was discovered she was great friends with Lord Brittan and his wife.
It took some time to find the next chair. She was Justice Lowell Goddard, a New Zealand high court judge. When she resigned after less than 18 months she was replaced by Professor Alexis Jay. The inquiry was given new terms of reference but few believe it will ever produce any meaningful report.
In July 2015, previously lost Whitehall files were discovered. In one, dated November 1986, the then head of MI5, Sir Antony Duff, accepted a denial by an MP that he was a child-abuser, but noted that “the risk of political embarrassment to the government is rather greater than the security danger.”
The missing dossier has been linked with stalled investigations into the Elm Guest House child abuse scandal. Hayman was just one of hundreds of high-ranking visitors to this brothel near Barnes Bridge.
Prime minister Edward Heath, Liberal MP Cyril Smith, the Queen’s art historian Anthony Blunt, several other Conservative politicians, Buckingham Palace staff and a Labour MP were others on the long list of those accused of visiting.
In January 2015, an academic researcher found a file of allegations against unnatural sexual proclivities by high-ranking people. The document had gone to the prime minister Margaret Thatcher in the early 1980s. It was a classified report on Hayman’s original case but it was the handwritten notes by Thatcher that were most interesting — she was insisting that Hayman was not to be named.
She had written a “line to take” note saying: “Say authorities have carried out an investigation. Nothing to suggest that security prejudiced.”
The internet is full of everything from careful evidence-based case-studies to wild conspiracy theories. So how do we find the real truth?
Sadly we don’t because millions of pounds and thousands of work hours have produced enough smoke and mirrors to make sure that rare and dangerous commodity, the truth, will remain well hidden for many years to come. And that is just how those in the highest positions of power like it.