Alleged ‘leading Tory from Thatcher years was part of paedophile ring who raped boys at Welsh children’s home’

Martin Robinson & Leon Watson – Daily Mail Oct 2, 2012

Fresh allegations that a ‘leading politician from the Thatcher years’ was at the centre of a widespread paedophile ring were aired on the BBC’s Newsnight programme Friday night.

Alleged abuse victim Steven Messham told Newsnight he was raped more than a dozen times after being picked up in a car that turned at night at the children’s home in North Wales where he lived.

Newsnight described the man as ‘a shadowy figure of high public standing’, but failed to name him.

Mr Messham, who made his allegations to the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal but claims they were ignored, said ‘various things would happen’ at the hands of a senior Tory politician and he was ‘basically raped’.

Mr Meesham was one of hundreds of children abused in the 1970s and 80s – exploitation brought to light by the Waterhouse Inquiry Report in 2000.

But he told BBC Newsnight the inquiry uncovered just a fraction of the abuse.

As a teenager he went to the police and made statements against the senior public figure, but claimed officers told him he was a liar.

A second anonymous alleged victim reported the public figure to police, but was also rebuffed.

He said: ‘When I made a statement to the police the police crossed [his name] out and said there was no point.’

Earlier today, a senior Whitehall source expressed dismay at the chaos engulfing the BBC and suggested the corporation was trying to divert attention away from the Savile scandal.

He said: ‘This looks like they are trying to create a smokescreen to divert attention away from what happened with the Savile programme. That is disgraceful.’

Tory MP Rob Wilson said: ‘The danger is that the people at the BBC think that after not running the Jimmy Savile paedophile programme that they need to be more editorially robust and muscular.

‘But if that is what is behind this, it is absolutely crazy. Now if they don’t screen this programme, it will look leave horrible rumours circulating on the Internet about innocent people.’

Before the programme started the editor of the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Iain Overton, mysteriously tweeted that a ‘senior political figure’ was to be outed as a child-abuser on Newsnight.

However, the programme said at the end of tonight’s report that there was ‘not enough evidence’ to name him. Following the end of Newsnight, the BBC refused to comment.

However MailOnline understands the investigation about the unnamed man, who is alive, is being looked at by the BBC’s legal team.

Immediately after, viewers expressed their anger that the BBC failed to name the suspect on micro-blogging site Twitter.

Referring to presenter Jeremy Paxman, Piers Morgan ‏tweeted: ‘So #Newsnight bottled it again tonight re exposing a paedophile? And they have the gall to mock tabloids? Grow a pair, Paxo.’

Another tweeter, Brixtonite, said: ‘Incredibly irresponsible of #Newsnight to suggest they were going to reveal name of paedophile then not do so. Speculation & gossip now rife.

‘I don’t, and I don’t want to know about rumours. I want Newsnight to do decent thing and take what they know to police.’

Newsnight took the decision despite Mr Overton’s crystal clear message online: ‘If all goes well we’ve got a Newsnight out tonight about a very senior political figure who is a paedophile.’

Following the broadcast, MailOnline approached Mr Overton for a comment, but he was not available.

Mr Overton’s bureau is a not-for-profit organisation which works with news outlets to publish in-depth investigations. It says it has been working on this project for the BBC.

It piles more pressure on the beleaguered corporation after last month it was revealed Newsnight dumped an investigation into paedophile Sir Jimmy Savile, even though they had interviewed his victims.

It took a ITV documentary to reveal that Jimmy Savile had carried out decades of abuse involving hundreds of children, some of whom were attacked on BBC premises.

It emerged that Newsnight had carried out its own investigation into the paedophile DJ – including an interview with the same victim in the ITV documentary- nearly a year before.

A BBC team spent six weeks probing allegations that the presenter abused pupils at a school in Surrey, speaking to at least four women who claimed they had been assaulted or knew about events.

But the report was shelved at the last minute at the request of the programme’s editor Peter Rippon. It was not until last month that the BBC aired its own investigation into the scandal, on Panorama.

It covered both Savile’s crimes and the Corporation’s reaction. Mr Rippon stood aside from his role at Newsnight after the BBC said his explanation for shelving the story was ‘inaccurate or incomplete’.

The corporation’s director general George Entwistle was hauled before a select committee last week to explain why and how it happened.

He denied that the broadcaster helped cover up allegations that Savile preyed on women.

And now there are huge doubts about whether this latest investigation into the mystery political figure will be broadcast.

Channel Four political correspondent Michael Crick says he has spoken to the man at the centre of the allegations, who denied that he was a paedophile and said he would sue if Newsnight broadcasts anything on him tonight.

He also added that the man said he had not been approached for a comment by the BBC, despite it being earmarked for tonight’s Newsnight.

The Metropolitan Police have told MailOnline they have not been handed anything on the subject of the investigation.

The row comes after Labour MP Tom Watson shocked the Commons last month by alleging there was ‘clear intelligence’ linking a former Number 10 aide with a notorious group of sex offenders.

He has compiled a dossier allegations for the Metropolitan Police, which is currently dealing with hundreds of allegations of abuse against Jimmy Savile.

But it is unclear if this is linked to the Newsnight investigation.

Mr Watson suggested a Number 10 insider was named in files connected to the conviction of a child porn smuggler in the early 1990s.

He told the Commons: ‘The evidence used to convict paedophile Peter Righton, if it still exists, contains clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring.

‘One of its members boasts of his links to a senior aide of a former prime minister who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad.

‘The leads were not followed up, but if the file still exists I want to ensure that the Metropolitan Police secure the evidence, re-examine it and investigate clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10.’

Mr Cameron said Mr Watson ‘raises a very difficult and complex case’ and he was ‘not entirely sure which former prime minister he is referring to’.

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