By a Newsnet reporter
Labour MP Tom Watson has stunned the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Question Time on Wednesday by calling for an investigation into allegations that a paedophile ring operating prior to 1992 had close links to a senior Prime Ministerial aide. Mr Watson alleged there was “clear intelligence” linking a former Number 10 aide to a group of child sex offenders.
Mr Watson told shocked MPs that there was evidence that “a senior aide of a former Prime Minister” was involved in smuggling in indecent images of children from abroad and that this individual was part of “a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and Number 10”. The MP for West Bromwich East demanded a police investigation.
The intervention came after Prime Minister David Cameron had pledged to the Commons that the BBC would be forced to explain why Jimmy Savile was allowed to get away with abusing children for so long.
The allegations follow similar claims that a paedophile ring operated within the BBC at around the time the former BBC presenter was abusing young children on the corporation’s premises. The claims were contained in a Panorama special, broadcast this week that sought to investigate allegations made against Savile and a decision by BBC chiefs to halt an investigation into the claims along with the cancellation of a Newsnight programme containing testimony from alleged victims of the late DJ.
The new allegations raised by Mr Watson relate to the 1992 conviction of Peter Righton on charges of importing pornography depicting underage boys. Before his conviction, Righton was the Director of Education at the National Institute of Social Work, a position from which he could have potentially influenced government policy and would have had regular contacts with government advisors. Righton was 66 years old at the time of his conviction.
Speaking to the House of Commons, Mr Watson said:
“The evidence file used to convict paedophile Peter Righton, if it still exists, contains clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring.
“One of its members boasts of his links to a senior aide of a former Prime Minister, who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad.
“The leads were not followed up, but if the file still exists I want to ensure that the Metropolitan police secure the evidence, re-examine it and investigate clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No. 10.”
In reply, Mr Cameron said: “The honourable gentleman raises a very difficult and complex case and I’m not entirely sure which former PM he’s referring to.
“What I’d like to do is look very carefully at Hansard about the allegations… and look very carefully to see what the government can do to help give him the assurances that he seeks.”
The Times’s David Aaronovitch and the Guardian have speculated that the Prime Ministerial aide may have been Tory MP Sir Peter Morrison, who was Margaret Thatcher’s parliamentary private secretary when she was Prime Minister. Last weekend former Conservative cabinet minister Edwina Currie alleged that Mr Morrison had sex with 16-year-old boys when the age of consent was 21. Mr Morrison, who was known to have problems with alcoholism, died in 1995 at the age of 52.
However other sources deny that the individual in question was the late Mr Morrison, and have hinted that Mr Watson was referring to someone who is still alive.