Tim Tate

Author, Film-Maker & Investigative Journalist


The Truth Shall Make You Free Fret


“We are not in a position to answer …”


The Independent Public Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse says it is “not in a position” to answer questions about whether it plans to examine evidence into allegations surrounding the former Home Secretary, Leon Brittan.


On Monday I submitted a list of seven questions to the Inquiry’s press office. All related to information given to me in April 2014 by a senior detective in Operation Fernbridge, the Metropolitan Police team investigating allegations of historical “VIP “ child sexual abuse. These were detailed in yesterday’s blog – The Long, Strange Saga of Leon Brittan.


The questions I put to Inquiry press office were:


  1. Has the Inquiry yet established direct contact with Operation Fernbridge ?
  2. Will the Inquiry be examining documentary evidence held by Operation Fernbridge concerning its investigations into the late Baron Brittan ?
  3. Specifically, will the Inquiry secure from Operation Fernbridge copies of all such documents including, but not limited to, formal statements made under caution, officers’ notebooks, internal memoranda and historical documents acquired during its investigation into the late Baron Brittan ?
  4. Does the Inquiry plan to require public testimony from the current head of Operation Fernbridge, AND its former senior investigating officer, [NAME REDACTED HERE] concerning the late Baron Brittan?
  5. Does the Inquiry plan to require public testimony from the former Customs and Excise officer Maganlal Solanki who gave evidence to Operation Fernbridge concerning the alleged seizure of child pornography from the late Baron Brittan ?
  6. Does the Inquiry plan to take evidence from the US Marshall formerly attached to Operation Fernbridge in connection with a visit he made at the request of Operation Fernbridge to a suspected victim of Baron Brittan ?
  7. Does the Inquiry plan to publish the documents acquired and/or generated by Operation Fernbridge during the course of its investigation into Baron Brittan ?


Inquiry spokesperson Charlotte Phillips replied by e-mail this lunchtime.   She declined to answer a single one of the questions.   She wrote:


I’m afraid the questions you are asking are ones we are not in a position to answer at the moment. They are very detailed / specific questions about something that could potentially form part of the Inquiry.


Your last one – regarding making documents public – on a general note the Chair made clear in her opening statement that the Inquiry would be conducted in an open and transparent way and that at the appropriate time as much as possible would be published. 


It seems odd that an Inquiry which has – in its various incarnations – been in existence for a year cannot yet say whether it plans to examine the key witnesses to widely-reported allegations concerning one of the central figures in this murky saga.


Even discounting the two false starts with Baroness Butler-Sloss and Dame Fiona Woolf  Justice Lowell Godard was appointed in February: she has had almost six months to make plans.


The allegations concerning Leon Brittan are both detailed and central to the Inquiry’s remit to investigate (inter alia) the very department – the Home Office – which established it.    If there is evidence that a former Home Secretary – the man who (lest we forget) had responsibility for policy towards the Paedophile Information Exchange as well as being the recipient of a missing dossier which allegedly named paedophiles in high office – had a sexual interest in children, then surely the Inquiry’s job is to uncover that evidence ?


And if the transparency which Ms. Phillips promises is to mean anything, surely the Inquiry needs to reassure an increasingly suspicious public (which is footing the substantial bill) that, whatever it shows, this evidence will be thoroughly examined and will be published ?

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