British police have launched an investigation into allegations that members of an organized paedophile ring have been abusing vulnerable underage boys in council care for years.
The organized criminal ring included former ministers, senior lawmakers, top police officers, judges, bishops, members of the royal family, and show-business celebrities. They are all alleged to have indecently assaulted vulnerable, under-age males between 1979 and 1982.
According to reports, the inquiry will focus on boys who were living at Grafton Close children’s home in Richmond, South-West London, in the 1980s.
It is claimed the boys were taken from Grafton Close to Elm Guest House in Rocks Lane, a suburban street in nearby Barnes where they were subjected to appalling sexual abuse.
One source is said to have suggested that Anthony Blunt, former Keeper of the Queen’s Pictures and an exposed Soviet spy, used to go to sordid parties at the guest house. Others are said to have spoken of two High Court judges and a Foreign Office official attending.
Detectives launched the probe, codenamed Operation Fernbridge, after they obtained a list of ‘prominent people’ who allegedly stayed at the guest house in the 1980s.
At these parties, young boys, specially brought over from several children’s homes would be plied with drugs and alcohol.
A party at the Elm Guest House was raided by police in 1982, following which 12 boys gave evidence that they had been abused by men.
German born Carole Kasir was convicted for running a gay brothel disorderly house.
Following the sudden death of 47-year-old Kasir in 1990 from an insulin overdose, two social worker friends of her gave some worrying evidence to the inquest. Mary Moss and Christopher Fay made allegations of the sexual abuse of children at the Elm Guest House. However, the allegations of sexual abuse against children by the rich and powerful were not pursued.
The claims are now being re-investigated by the Metropolitan Police, decades after they were first made. Attempts have been made by care workers to lay bare the secrets of Rocks Lane but to no avail.
Operation Fairbank is a police investigation into alleged sexual abuse, predominantly the abuse of children, by British politicians in the 1980s.
The investigation, led by the Metropolitan Police Service, started in late 2012. The investigation is currently a “scoping exercise” aimed at a “preliminary assessment of the evidence rather than a formal inquiry”. The existence of the operation was confirmed on 12 December 2012, after operating in secret for several weeks. Five officers are currently working on the inquiry.
Operation Fairbank was set up following claims by Labour Party politician Tom Watson in the House of Commons that the police should look afresh at claims of a “powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10?.
Watson raised the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions on 24 October 2012. He suggested that such a network may have existed in the past at a high level, protected by connections to Parliament and involving a close aide to a former Prime Minister; neither the aide nor the former Prime Minister were named.
Watson referred to Peter Righton, a former consultant to the National Children’s Bureau, who was convicted of importing and possessing illegal homosexual pornographic material in 1992.
Watson said that files on Peter Righton contained “clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring…One of its members boasts of a link to a senior aide of a former Prime Minister, who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad.”
Nine officers raided the North London home of former child protection worker Mary Moss after she initially declined to co-operate with the investigation.
Documents and a laptop were seized. Ms Moss later handed over a further 19 files she had hidden in a neighbour’s shed.
The papers include a list of men who went to sex parties in the 80s at the Elm Guest House, Barnes, South West London.
Among the names are two former Conservative Cabinet ministers and four other senior Tories.
There is also a Labour MP, a prominent Irish republican and a leading National Front member.
Others on the handwritten note are two members of the royal household - one a former Buckingham Palace employee - plus the owner of a multinational company and two pop stars.
One of those is a best-selling musician, but like some others on the list he is not suspected of being involved in the child abuse.
The list was taken at meetings in 1988 between the guest house’s manager Carole Kasir and child protection officials.
Other documents seized are believed to identify 16 boys who were allegedly trafficked to the guest house from local care homes. Police have asked Richmond Council for a full list of children in care at the time.
Officers will also be examining copies of cash receipts and the guest house’s visitor records.
Operation Fernbridge is investigating claims that boys who were in council care were brought to the Elm to be sexually abused by bigwigs and VIPs.
Police have allegedly taken boxes of documents from the London home of Mary Moss, who worked as an advocate for abused children at the now defunct National Association for Young People in Care.
Mary Moss said the documents contained evidence that senior figures from a number of political parties had abused children at Elm Guest House and elsewhere.
The documents allegedly identify: Carol Kazir as guest house owner, “X” a top person in charge of MI5, “Y” MI5 officer; Two former Conservative cabinet ministers; 7 Further MPs - four Other Tories, two Labour, one Liberal Democrat; Several figures with links to the right wing Conservative Monday Club; A leading figure in the National Front, who is now dead; A Sinn Fein member; two Buckingham Palace Officials; two Pop Stars, and Anthony Blunt said to have used the name ‘Antony Goldstein’.
Rocks Lane is a conspiracy theorist’s dream, taking in allegations of the grooming of young boys in care for sex, elaborate gay parties involving senior public figures including members of the Conservative Party, charges of a police cover-up and even the suggestion of murder.
The police believe that in the context of the Jimmy Savile scandal and renewed claims over the treatment of boys in care in North Wales, there is every reason to look again at an extremely murky saga.
What is known is that in the late 1970s, the Elm Guest House on Rocks Lane was a safe, unthreatening meeting place for homosexual men free from the stigma of a sexual orientation legalised barely a decade earlier.
According to a former friend of Carole Kasir, the guest house’s German-born manager, she initially regarded herself as offering gay men an opportunity to “be themselves” without fear.
Rocks Lane, which overlooks a playing field, was known to homosexual men as it is close to Barnes Common, itself popular with gay men for cruising.
But Elm Guest House’s willingness to accommodate a small industry (“It became a convenient place for rent boys to take their clients,” says one person familiar with the place), began to attract the attentions of the local police force.
One neighbour remembers a months-long police stakeout: “They were there all the time. Police hiding behind the trees to look at the property was a running joke with the neighbours.”
In 1982, the police learned that one of the guest house’s parties was to take place, and the Met’s notorious Special Patrol Group, the precursor of the Territorial Support Group, duly raided the property, resulting in a number of charges being brought against Kasir. The fact that two police officers were in the house at the time of the raid has fed the speculation.
The IoS has established that, according to an officer closely involved at the time, two officers were embedded as guests in the property for two or three days, one even pretending to have a broken arm, hiding a police radio in a plaster cast to make secret recordings.
As many as 12 boys gave evidence to the police to the effect that they had been abused by men at the house, The IoS has established, but the only conviction was the comparatively minor one of running a disorderly house (ie, a brothel).
“Abused boys do not always make the most impressive of witnesses once they get into the witness box,” someone involved in the case said. “The real unlawful activity was underage sex. The police should have been able to make the other charges stick, but the boys were only ever interviewed with a view to them being witnesses against Carole, not as kids who were abused themselves.”
Chris Fay, a social worker who worked for a small charity, the National Association for Young People in Care (Naypic), has alleged that a terrified Kasir had shown him about 20 photographs of middle-aged men with young boys, taken at what he said were kings and queens fancy-dress parties, attended by a number of powerful and well-known people.
One, Mr Fay alleged, featured a well-known public figure wearing nothing but a French maid’s apron alongside a young boy nude apart from a tiara.
In 1990, at the age of 47, Kasir was found dead in her flat. The coroner’s inquest concluded that, a diabetic, she had suffered an insulin overdose. Two Naypic employees told the coroner they believed that because she seemingly had not had an insulin injection for three days, she had been murdered, the victim of powerful people who feared she knew too much. Nonetheless, she was found to have committed suicide, worn down by an eight-year battle to have her son, who was taken into care after her conviction, returned to her.
The alleged presence of household names adds to the intrigue, but in a celeb-obsessed age, there is a danger that, should such names not materialise, Rocks Lane will be seen as “just another” child abuse case. Yet police sources fear that dozens of boys were either taken or on the run from care homes to be abused. By any standards, that should be a big story.
Peter Hatton-Bornshin killed himself six days after his 28th birthday. He had taken an overdose of codeine and choked to death. ‘The tragic end to a tragic life,’ is how the coroner summed up the stark facts presented to the inquest.
And who at the time would disagree? Peter was only a baby when his father died in an accident. He was orphaned at 13 when his mother threw herself in front of a train. His stepfather then handed Peter and his older brother to social services.
And that is how Peter ended up at the Grafton Close Children’s Home, which was run by Richmond borough council in South-West London. Truly, he was a lost soul.
When his life finally came to an end in a Kingston-upon-Thames bedsit, he left a note which explained that he feared he would be unable to control his violent fantasies against women if he remained alive.
This personality disorder had caused him briefly to be a patient at Broadmoor mental hospital. His case worker said that while he did not consider Peter to be a danger to society, his mental problems were partly a result of the abuse he had suffered while in local authority care. One line in his suicide note seemed to refer to this. It read: ‘I will get those bastards.’
But while it was the ‘tragic end to a tragic life’, his story does not finish there.
Eighteen years after his death, the police are again looking at the Peter Hatton-Bornshin case, as part of a wider investigation, launched last month, into allegations that in the early Eighties a paedophile ring of VIPs preyed on boys from the Grafton Close Children’s Home
If the historic allegations at the heart of Operation Fernbridge are proved, they would represent one of the more sensational and disturbing Establishment sex scandals of the modern era.
Cyril Smith, the late Liberal MP for Rochdale, has already been named as a regular at the guest house, where he allegedly met teenage rent boys when the homosexual age of consent was 21.
The guest house has also been linked to a now-defunct Tory fringe group that promoted homosexual rights.
Operation Fernbridge detectives are also believed to be on the trail of almost two dozen photographs that are supposed to have been taken by the guest-house owner - which place a number of these figures from the worlds of politics, show-business and national security at her establishment.
Some pictures are said to show these men in the company of under-age boys.
New police interest in the Elm Guest House allegations stems from October last year, when the campaigning Labour MP Tom Watson called for an investigation into the political links of one Peter Righton, a notorious paedophile who had first been exposed 20 years before.
In September 1992, Righton pleaded guilty to three charges of importing or possessing obscene material - paedophile gay porn - after customs officers at Dover intercepted two packages addressed to him.
It was a squalid case that in other circumstances might have warranted only local interest.
But Righton, then aged 66, was no ordinary child sex offender. He had been a very senior and respected figure in the field of residential child care, and a former consultant to the charity the National Children’s Bureau, whose patrons included the then Health Minister, Virginia Bottomley.
After his conviction, it emerged that Righton was a founder member of the Paedophile Information Exchange - a contact group for men interested in sex with children. He is now believed to be dead.
Westminster sources say that following his intervention in the House, Mr Watson received more than 200 phone calls, many of them from alleged victims of paedophile abuse by public figures unconnected with Righton. The MP passed the information on to the police.
Righton’s links to figures in the Thatcher government are still being assessed by detectives.
The Mail understands that no formal decision has been taken yet on whether Watson’s allegations will be formally probed.
However, one person who contacted Watson had specific information about boys from Grafton Close Children’s Home being abused at the Elm Guest House.
Run by Indian-born Haroon Kasir and his German wife Carole, the guest house was openly advertised in the gay press of the time as nothing more sinister than a place where homosexual men could meet.