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David Cameron is facing calls to protect police and intelligence officers who give evidence over an alleged VIP paedophile ring in Westminster, to guarantee that they will not prosecuted.
It emerged yesterday that Scotland Yard is being investigated over claims that it covered up child sex abuse because of the involvement of influential MPs and police officers.
New claims were also made on the BBC's Newsnight that officers who arrested Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith on suspicion of hosting sex parties with teenage boys were warned to keep quiet about the investigation or face prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.
Tom Watson, the Labour MP who first made allegations in Parliament about a Westminster paedophile ring in October 2012, today called on David Cameron to shield whistleblowers from that law.
What is really significant about the launch of the investigation into the cover-up claims involving the Metropolitan Police is the range of allegations - 14 referrals spanning four decades.
The police watchdog said the allegations were of "high-level corruption".
This is significant but investigators leading this have no idea where or when this might all now end.
One of the allegations being investigated by the IPCC refers to Dolphin Square, the exclusive apartment block near the Houses of Parliament where its claimed sex parties involving under-age boys have taken place.
Among the other allegations are claims an abuse victim's statement had been altered to omit the name of a senior politician implicated in the crime.
Another allegation claims no action was taken over the discovery of a document listing MPs and police officers involved in a paedophile ring.
The 14 referrals, which span the 1970s and 2000s, being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission are:
- An allegation of a potential cover up around failures to properly investigate child sex abuse offences in south London and further information about criminal allegations against a politician being dropped
- An allegation that an investigation involving a proactive operation targeting young men in Dolphin Square was stopped because officers were too near prominent people
- An allegation that a document was found at an address of a paedophile that originated from the Houses of Parliament listing a number of highly prominent individuals (MPs and senior police officers) as being involved in a paedophile ring and no further action was taken
- An allegation that an account provided by an abuse victim had been altered to omit the name of a senior politician
- An allegation that an investigation into a paedophile ring, in which a number of people were convicted, did not take action in relation to other more prominent individuals
- Allegations that a politician had spoken with a senior Met Police officer and demanded no action was taken regarding a paedophile ring and boys being procured and supplied to prominent persons in Westminster in the 1970s
- An allegation that in the late 1970s a surveillance operation that gathered intelligence on a politician being involved in paedophile activities was closed down by a senior Met Police officer
- An allegation that a dossier of allegations against senior figures and politicians involved in child abuse were taken by Special Branch officers
- Allegations that a surveillance operation of a child abuse ring was subsequently shut down due to high profile people being involved
- Allegations of child sex abuse against a senior politician and a subsequent cover-up of his crimes
- Allegations that during a sexual abuse investigation a senior officer instructed the investigation be halted and that that order had come from 'up high' in the Met
- An allegation of a conspiracy within the Met to prevent the prosecution of a politician suspected of offences
- Allegations against a former senior Met Police officer regarding child sex abuse and that further members of the establishment including judges were involved. It is claimed that no further action was taken
- An allegation that police officers sexually abused a boy and carried out surveillance on him. There are further allegations of financial corruption in a London borough police force.
The IPCC said it will decide at a later date whether or not to investigate a further two Met referrals which are "of a similar nature".
The IPCC probe into an alleged cover up at the Metropolitan Police of child sex offences arose from Operation Fairbank.
Operation Fairbank is an investigation into alleged historic Westminster paedophile ring.
A Met Police spokesman said: "The Independent Police Complaints Commission have today announced they will manage the investigations by the Metropolitan Police Service's directorate of professional standards, concerning historic allegations of impropriety by police officers when dealing with allegations of sexual abuse.
"The allegations emerged whilst officers were working on Operation Fairbank and relate to the period between 1970 - 2005.
"The MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) recognised the severity of the allegations, and the importance of understanding whether or not our officers had in the past acted inappropriately, and therefore voluntarily referred the 16 separate allegations to the IPCC.
"Ongoing investigations and recent convictions by officers from the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command have shown that the MPS is fully committed to investigating non-recent allegations of sexual abuse."
The police watchdog is investigating claims that Scotland Yard covered up child sex offences because of the involvement of MPs and police officers.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission said it is investigating 14 referrals detailing alleged corruption in the Metropolitan Police which relate to child sex offences from the 1970s to the 2000s.
The allegations include:
- Suppressing evidence
- Hindering or halting investigations
- Covering up the offences because of the involvement of members of parliament and police officers.
Sarah Green, deputy chair of the IPCC, said: "These allegations are of historic, high level corruption of the most serious nature. We will oversee the investigations and ensure that they meet the terms of reference that we will set.
"Allegations of this nature are of grave concern and I would like to reassure people of our absolute commitment to ensuring that the investigations are thorough and robust."
The Independent Police Complaints Commission today said it is to investigate alleged corruption within the Metropolitan Police, including allegations it covered up child sex offences because of the involvement of MPs and police officers.
Latest ITV News reports
An undercover police operation that gathered evidence of child abuse by Cyril Smith was scrapped after the MP was arrested, a report states.