- An ex-Tory minister has claimed Sir Peter Morrison was implicated in the child abuse scandal that engulfed children’s homes in North Wales
- An inquiry discovered up to 650 children in 40 homes were sexually, physically and emotionally in the 1970s and ’80s
- Rod Richards, a former Tory MP, said he had seen evidence linking the former aide to Baroness Thatcher to the scandal
By Glen Owen
A former Tory Minister last night made incendiary claims that one of Margaret Thatcher’s closest aides was implicated in one of the most harrowing child abuse scandals of recent times.
Rod Richards, a former Conservative MP and ex-leader of the Welsh Tories, made the shocking allegation that he had seen evidence linking Sir Peter Morrison to the North Wales children’s homes case, in which up to 650 children in 40 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 homes including Bryn Estyn and Bryn Alyn Hall, both near Wrexham.
He said official documents had identified the pair as frequent, unexplained visitors to the care homes.
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 the reason I know that is because of the North Wales child abuse scandal.’
He added that William Hague, who was Welsh Secretary at the time of the inquiry, ‘should have seen the evidence about Morrison’.
Morrison was Lady Thatcher’s parliamentary private secretary and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party.
The claims prompted Labour MPs to call for the files to be reopened to ensure that there had not been an ‘establishment cover-up’.
Mr Hague called the inquiry into the scandal in 1996 after care homes boss John Allen was convicted of child abuse. It concluded that a paedophile ring around Cheshire and Wrexham had caused ‘appalling suffering’ to children in care in the Seventies and Eighties.
Mr Richards said he received detailed briefings about the case while junior Welsh Office Minister for health and social services.
He said: ‘It fell to me to decide initially whether to hold a public inquiry. So I saw all the documentation and the files. Morrison was linked. His name stood out on the notes to me because he had been an MP. He and [the other man] were named as visitors to the homes.’
Mr Richards could not offer anything to substantiate his claims against Morrison, who died in 1995 at the age of 51. But he said that as the MP for Chester, he would have no obvious reason to visit care homes in other MPs’ constituencies.
The claims have emerged amid growing public revulsion over the institutional failures revealed by the Jimmy Savile scandal. Savile was a regular guest of Lady Thatcher’s at Chequers.
Mr Richards added that he was frustrated that the £13 million, three-year inquiry headed by Sir Ronald Waterhouse QC had not uncovered any evidence to link Morrison to the abuse. He said: ‘It would seem that there are some parallels with Savile in that Morrison got in under the radar, and his activities did not appear in the final report’.
However, he said that as Welsh Secretary, Mr Hague ‘should have seen the evidence about Morrison’ in the preliminary files.