Former top Tory involved in “systematic abuse” of children

The BBC’s Newsnight claimed last night that a former top Tory from the Thatcher government was a child sex pervert.

The programme alleged he was involved in the “systematic abuse” of young boys at North Wales care homes in the 70s and 80s.

But the man, said to have links to Downing Street, was not identified “because there is simply not enough evidence to name names”.

And yesterday insiders warned that the man at the centre of the claims denies any wrongdoing and is threatening to sue.

One of the alleged victims has called for an inquiry — and says he wants a meeting with the Prime Minister.

Steven Messham, who claims he was abused as a boy, said: “David Cameron has made a sweeping statement that abused people need to be believed.

“We haven’t been believed. We’ve been swept under the carpet. It’s time for a full investigation.”

Earlier yesterday TV journalist Iain Overton revealed on Twitter: “If all goes well we’ve got a Newsnight out tonight about a very senior political figure who is a paedophile.”

It prompted an internet frenzy of speculation about the identity of the alleged pervert.

Channel 4’s Michael Crick, who used to work on Newsnight, also took to Twitter to claim he had spoken to the man involved, who had not been contacted by the BBC.

He tweeted: “Senior political figure due to be accused tonight by BBC of being paedophile denies allegations + tells me he’ll issue writ agst BBC.”

The new controversy comes just weeks after the BBC was rocked by revelations that a Newsnight ­investigation into Jimmy Savile’s sick activities was axed last year.

Staff on the crisis-hit BBC2 show were left fuming yesterday over Mr Overton’s tweet, posted many hours before last night’s report was due to be broadcast.

Mr Overton is head of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism — a not-for-profit group set up at City University, London.

Its aim, according to its website, is to “educate the public and the media on both the realities of today’s world and the value of honest reporting”.

It claims to have been involved in up to 50 front page news stories.

The Newsnight investigation follows a shock revelation from Labour MP Tom Watson — reported in the Mirror — that cops overlooked evidence of a suspected paedophile who worked in Downing Street.

He claimed a Number 10 insider was named in files connected to the conviction of child porn smuggler Peter Righton in the early 90s.

A former Tory minister later made incendiary claims that one of Margaret Thatcher’s closest aides was implicated in one of the most infamous child abuse scandals.

Rod Richards, ex-leader of the Welsh Tories, said he had seen evidence linking Sir Peter Morrison to the North Wales children’s homes case.

Morrison, who died in 1995, was Lady Thatcher’s parliamentary private secretary and deputy Tory Party chairman.

Up to 650 children in 40 care homes were sexually, physically and emotionally abused over 20 years.

Mr Richards also linked a second leading Tory grandee — now dead — to the scandals at two homes near Wrexham.

Mr Richards — who helped establish the inquiry that unearthed the scale of the abuse — said bluntly: “What I do know is that Morrison was a ­paedophile. And I know that because of the North Wales child abuse scandal.”

Tom Watson has said that Morrison was not the pervert he was referring to.

Newsnight has been in the firing line because of the botched Savile investigation which saw a team spend six weeks probing allegations that the DJ and TV star abused pupils at a school in Surrey.

Journalists spoke to at least four women who said they were assaulted or knew what was going on but the report was shelved at the last minute by editor Peter Rippon.

He has “stepped aside” pending an investigation. It took an ITV documentary to reveal that Savile had carried out decades of abuse against hundreds of children.

The Corporation also screened a Panorama investigation into Savile’s crimes and the BBC’s reaction, including what happened to the Newsnight report.

New Director General George Entwistle denied a cover-up in a humiliating Commons committee grilling.