Politicians, businessmen and police alleged to have been involved in filming of abuse, inquiry hears

Prominent politicians, businessmen and police officers are alleged to have been involved in the filming of sexual assaults against children in care, an inquiry has heard.

Some of the abuse of those under the care of Lambeth Council (pictured) was said to have been filmed in local authority buildings, including a town hall, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse heard on Tuesday.

The inquiry, which is due to last four weeks, aims to establish whether there were failures by public authorities around the protection of children in care homes run by the south London council.

It heard how paedophiles had “infiltrated” Lambeth’s children’s homes in the 1960s and preyed upon young residents for decades.

Barrister Stephen Simblet, who represents one of the victims, said: “There are allegations that council contractors had corrupt relationships with council officers, of secret societies, secret paedophile rings, the production and distribution of filmed sexual assaults on Lambeth children in care, with some of them being filmed in council buildings, even it being said the town hall.

“These were said to involve prominent politicians, councillors, businessmen and police officers. Sometimes trafficking children from Lambeth care homes and were also used in blackmail to secure contracts and influence.”

Mr Simblet told the inquiry panel it may later “uncover more evidence” about the truth of the allegations, adding: “But we say in any event, what’s striking is not only whether or not this is true, but that so many professional informed people consider that it might be.”

The inquiry also heard allegations that the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Middleton – which looked into the Lambeth child abuse claims – did not “adequately” investigate information relating to a “prominent politician’s” possible involvement.

Barrister Christopher Jacobs said former detective chief inspector Clive Driscoll had obtained information “from a number of apparently credible sources” about paedophile Michael Carroll and his links to the politician, who was not named.

Mr Driscoll had been leading the Met’s Operation Trawler at the time, which preceded Operation Middleton in the 1990s, the inquiry heard.

“Mr Driscoll said in his statement to the inquiry he had obtained evidence from a senior child protection officer that this senior politician had frequently visited the Angell Road children’s home when Carroll was the officer in charge,” Mr Jacobs said.

Carroll, who ran the Angell Road home from 1981 to 1991, was jailed for 10 years at Liverpool Crown Court in 1999 after admitting a string of sexual assaults against children while working in residential care between 1966 and 1986.

Mr Jacobs, who represents Dr Nigel Goldie – the former assistant director of Lambeth’s child protection team, said Mr Driscoll was later removed from Operation Trawler.

He added: “My client (Dr Goldie) acknowledges that no allegations of criminal activity have ever been made against the prominent politician, but it must be a matter of concern that Operation Middleton, which ran until 2003, never contacted that politician, at least for the purposes of assisting with its inquiries.

“It is equally troubling that the apparently credible evidence DCI Driscoll obtained was not acted upon or looked at until many years until after that politician’s ministerial career ended.”

Barrister Samantha Leek, who is representing the Met Police, said DCI Driscoll was removed from the investigation in November 1998.

She said: “Clive Driscoll has variously alleged that he was removed from the investigation as part of an attempt to suppress investigations into prominent politicians and/or to divert investigations away from Highland Road or Angell Road children’s homes.”

Ms Leek said a subsequent investigation into his “unfounded allegations” concluded he was removed following concerns about his conduct by Lambeth Council after he named “prominent politicians as suspects” at a meeting with social services “when there was insufficient evidence to do so”.

The inquiry continues.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2020, All Rights Reserved.