The chilling claims that a paedophile ring may have been operating within the British establishment first emerged in an investigation by campaigning Conservative politician Geoffrey Dickens.
In November 1983, the MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth in Greater Manchester sent a 40-page document to then Home Secretary Leon Brittan detailing alleged VIP child abusers, apparently including former Liberal party chief whip Cyril Smith and other senior politicians.
In a newspaper interview at the time, Mr Dickens claimed his dossier contained the names of eight ‘really important public figures’ that he planned to expose, and whose crimes are believed to have stretched back to the 1960s.
Geoffrey Dickens produces a huge dossier detailing allegations of sexual abuse against prominent figures in the British establishment. He tells his family the claims will ‘blow apart’ the VIP paedophile ring.
Home Secretary Leon Brittan tells Mr Dickens that his dossier has been assessed by prosecutors and passed on to the police, but no further action is taken. The dossier is now either lost or missing.
Geoffrey Dickens dies. A short time later his wife destroys his copy of the paedophile dossier. The only other copies – one received by Mr Brittan and another allegedly sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions – are believed to have been lost or destroyed.
The 29-stone Rochdale MP Sir Cyril Smith dies aged 82 without ever being charged with sex offences.
Following the death of Sir Jimmy Savile, dozens of claims of historic child abuse emerge – including a number of alleged victims of Smith, who is said to have spanked and sexually abused teenage boys at a hostel he co-founded in the early 1960s.
During Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour MP Tom Watson claims there is ‘clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No10’.
Lancashire Police announced they will be investigating claims of sexual abuse by Smith relating to incidents before 1974, while Greater Manchester Police will investigate claims after 1974.
The Crown Prosecution Service admits Smith should have been charged with crimes of abuse more than 40 years earlier. The CPS also admitted Smith had been investigated in 1970, 1974, 1998, and 1999 but rejected every opportunity to prosecute him.
A former special branch officer, Tony Robinson, says a historic dossier ‘packed’ with information about Smith’s sex crimes was actually in the hands of Mi5 – despite officially having been ‘lost’ decades earlier.
Scotland Yard sets up Operation Fairbank to investigate claims a paedophile ring operated at the Elm Guest House in Barnes, southwest London, in the 1970s and 80s. Among those abusing children are said to have been a number of prominent politicians.
Operation Fernbridge is established to investigate the Elm Guest House alleged paedophile ring.
It is claimed a ‘paedophile ring of VIPs’ also operated at the Grafton Close Children’s Home in Richmond, Surrey.
Two men, a Catholic priest from Norwich, and a man understood to be connected to Grafton Close, arrested on suspicion of sexual offences and questioned by Operation Fernbridge officers.
Scotland Yard claims that seven police officers are working full time on Operation Fernbridge and are following more than 300 leads.
Charles Napier, the half-brother of senior Conservative politician John Whittingdale, is arrested by Operation Fairbank officers.
Some senior Labour party politicians linked to pro-paedophile campaign group the Paedophile Information Exchange, which was affiliated with the National Council for Civil Liberties pressure group, now known as Liberty, in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Police search the home of Lord Janner as part of a historical sex abuse investigation. He is not arrested.
Current deputy leader of the Labour Party Harriet Harman, who was NCCL’s in-house lawyer at the time of its affiliation with PIE and even met her husband Jack Dromey while working there, is forced to deny she supported the activities of the pro-paedophile collective.
Patricia Hewitt, Labour’s former Secretary of State for Health who was NCCL’s general secretary for nine years, later apologised and said she had been ‘naive and wrong’ to consider PIE a legitimate campaign group.
Lord Janner’s Westminster office is searched by police. Again the peer is not arrested.
July 3, 2014
Labour MP Simon Danczuk called on Leon Brittan to say what he knew about the Dickens dossier. It emerges the dossier has now been either lost or destroyed and the Home Office admits it can find no evidence of any criminal inquiry relating to it.
July 5, 2014
More than 10 current and former politicians are said to be on a list of alleged child abusers held by police investigating claims of an alleged paedophile ring.
July 6, 2014
Home Office permanent secretary Mark Sedwill reveals that 114 files relating to historic allegations of child sex abuse, from between 1979 and 1999, have disappeared from the Home Office.
It is also revealed that former Home Secretary Lord Brittan was accused of raping a student in 1967. The 2012 allegation was not investigated until Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders ordered the Met Police to re-open the case in June this year.