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Council bosses failed to investigate VIP child abuse scandal despite warnings
Richmond Council staff were told when allegations were made about the guesthouse being used as a paedophile brothel - but no action was taken
Bosses at Richmond Council failed to investigate a VIP child abuse ring despite senior figures being warned about abuse, according to Exaro investigative website.
Former staff confirm abuse at the notorious Elm Guest House was brought to their attention three decades ago when allegations were made about the guesthouse being used as a paedophile brothel.
But no action was taken - sparking fears of a high-level cover-up involving council officials and other senior figures, the Sunday People can reveal.
The guesthouse is being investigated by officers from Operation Fernbridge, who are investigating claims boys were trafficked there from nearby care homes.
The latest revelations - made by former head of children’s services Terry Earland to Exaro and the Sunday People - lend weight to the claims there was a cover-up involving key council figures.
Mr Earland revealed that on at least two occasions he referred complaints of sexual abuse from children to police and colleagues at the council.
But he said that they were not properly investigated even though he is certain that the complaints were genuine.
Mr Earland said: “I would say, almost certainly, of course it was discussed within the council.
“It has been something in my head all the time that I was at Richmond. I am pleased that it has come out again.”
Scotland Yard officers have taken a statement from at least one of those victims, and regards him as a very credible witness and crucial to their current investigation under Operation Fernbridge.
Since November last year, the Met has been investigating allegations that boys in care were sexually abused at Grafton Close children’s home, which was run by Richmond council, and at Elm Guest House nearby in Barnes, south-west London.
Police are investigating whether MPs and other VIPs sexually abused boys at the guest house.
Mr Earland also revealed that in 1982 the police even told the council that they were planning a raid on the guest house because of allegations that boys were being sexually abused there.
From the start the Saturday night raid did not go to plan. After an elaborate surveillance exercise, four police officers infiltrated the Edwardian house by posing as homosexuals when a party of 30 men was expected.
One officer pretended to have a broken arm, and a radio transmitter was concealed in the plaster cast to call in the raid.
However, it is understood that the transmitter triggered early and the raid was called in prematurely.
And Mr Earland confirmed the force found no boys at the guest house who were in care.
Mr Earland’s testimony is one of several that show how the London borough of Richmond-upon-Thames was aware of allegations that boys in its care were sexually abused by a paedophile ring centred on the borough three decades ago.
Mr Earland, who was head of children’s services at the London borough of Richmond-upon-Thames between1981 and 2003, told how claims that VIPs – including a Tory cabinet minister– were sexually abusing boys at the guest house were well known within the council from the time of the raid in 1982.
Disgraced MP Cyril Smith, former spy Anthony Blunt have been named as visitors to Elm. Rumours have also linked Jimmy Savile to the property.
He said: “We talked about people in high-profile places being involved in this,” he said. “It was senior politicians and judges.”
“The use of children in care at the Elm Guest House was something that went around,” he continued. “It was a rumour that kept on going, really. And we could never adequately resolve it.”
“When one social worker bought a child to me to say, ‘This child is saying this,’… we referred it again to the police. The police certainly have investigated this on at least one, if not two, subsequent occasions after 1982.”
“My modus operandi at that time was always that if there was an allegation of abuse, it was referred to the child-protection unit.”
Following the interview, detectives travelled to see Earland at his overseas retirement home on Thursday to take a full statement.
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