1. ITV Report

Lord Brittan's comments on 1980s Westminster 'child sex abuse dossier'

Former home secretary Leon Brittan has today clarified his position on a dossier alleging paedophile activity in Westminster . Credit: PA

The former home secretary Lord Brittan has clarified his position concerning a 1980s dossier alleging paedophile activity in Westminster.

The Tory peer issued a statement on the allegations after being challenged to "share what he knows" about the file, which was prepared by MP Geoffrey Dickens and which the Government has admitted appears to have since been destroyed.

Brittan initially claimed that he had passed the file to officials in November 1983 and heard nothing more.

However, an independent review that was commissioned by the Home Office last year included a letter he sent to Mr Dickens that showed this statement to be incorrect.

Lord Brittan, 74, then admitted that he had misremembered and in fact the material was assessed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) at the time and handed to police.

The incorrect statement Lord Brittan initially made concerning the dossier:

I told Mr Dickens I would ensure the papers were looked at carefully by the Home Office and acted on as necessary.

Following the meeting, I asked my officials to look carefully at the material and report back if they considered that any action needed to be taken by the Home Office.

This was the normal procedure for handling material presented to the Home Secretary.

I do not recall being contacted further about these matters by Home Office officials or by Mr Dickens or by anyone else.

A Home Office statement was then issued that said Lord Brittan was incorrect:

In response to concerns raised in Parliament and the media relating to the handling by the Department of historical allegations of abuse, the Permanent Secretary commissioned an independent review of all relevant papers received by the Department between 1979 to 1999 to identify any information received and the outcome.

The review concluded the Home Office acted appropriately, referring information received during this period to the relevant authorities.

An extract from the letter Lord Brittan wrote to Mr Dickens in March 1984 that appeared in the review that shows his statement was incorrect:

You drew my attention to a number of allegations concerning paedophilia when you called here on November 23 and in subsequent letters.

I am now able to tell you that, in general terms, the view of the Director of Public Prosecutions is that two of the letters you forwarded could form the basis for inquiries by the police and they are now being passed to the appropriate authorities.

In other cases there either seems to be inadequate evidence to pursue prosecution, for example the lady who wrote about PIE1 advertising but did not secure any example of the material complained of, or they have already been dealt with in some way by the courts or the police.

The letter confirms that the information was considered at the time and that any matters requiring investigation were referred to the police.

The latest statement made by Lord Brittan clarifying his earlier comments:

In the last hour I have been alerted to a Home Office independent review conducted last year into what information it received about organised child sex abuse between 1979 and 1999.

The review found information had been dealt with properly.

It also disclosed that material received from Mr Dickens in November 1983 and January 1984 had not been retained.

However, a letter was sent from myself to Mr Dickens on March 20, 1984, explaining what had been done in relation to the files.

The Home Office independent review is entirely consistent with the action I set out in my earlier statement.

Whilst I could not recall what further action was taken 30 years ago, the information contained in this report shows that appropriate action and follow-up happened.

More on this story