Secrets: MI5’s HQ at Thames House, venue for Alexis Jay’s private meeting
By Mark Watts
MI5 has disclosed secret information buried in its files about paedophile allegations against nine ‘VIPs’ – including six MPs – to the inquiry into child sexual abuse.
The FOIA Centre can also reveal that the CSA inquiry’s chairwoman, Alexis Jay, and its legal team, went to a meeting at Thames House, the headquarters of the UK’s domestic intelligence agency, last July and viewed some of the results of a series of searches by MI5 of its files.
A corporate witness for MI5, understood to be its legal director, has told the inquiry in a statement: “MI5’s review of the results identified that some of the material contained information suggesting that certain individuals may have committed child sexual abuse.”
Counsel to the inquiry, Brian Altman, went to “several” further meetings at MI5, which is formally known as the Security Service, to identify relevant material and agree what would be disclosed, and what withheld on the grounds of “national security”.
Jay, the inquiry’s panel and counsel are understood to have had to go through security vetting and to sign the Official Secrets Act as a condition for taking up their posts.
The inquiry is due to call the MI5 witness to give evidence by video link tomorrow afternoon at the start of the second week of hearings for the highly sensitive Westminster investigation of the inquiry.
Last week, the inquiry’s Westminster investigation heard testimony from a restricted number of police whistleblowers on how VIPs – including MPs, but extending beyond Parliament – had long sexually abused children in the UK, but that Scotland Yard in particular had repeatedly failed to investigate them properly, allowing them to act in practice with impunity.
But the inquiry also heard that the Metropolitan Police Service has rejected practically all such claims following investigations “managed” by its watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
From tomorrow, the inquiry is expected to unveil what MI5 knew of paedophile allegations against six MPs, all now dead, at its Westminster hearings:
The MI5 witness says in a statement to the inquiry: “No material was found to indicate the existence of a ‘Westminster paedophile network’ or of any attempts to cover up or suppress information about the existence of such a network.”
MI5 also revealed to the inquiry that it had carried out searches of its files for the Met’s ‘Operation Midland’, which investigated allegations against a network of MPs and other prominent people before it closed three years ago.
MI5 has disclosed this material to the inquiry, as well as documents that it had sent to Northern Ireland’s inquiry into institutional abuse.
The MI5 witness also says that the spy agency had no child-protection policy until June 2014, which was when Theresa May, then home secretary, announced the setting up of the inquiry.
The inquiry is also expected to unveil from tomorrow what MI5 knew about three other people of public prominence:
Today, I can reveal the key passages from MI5’s ‘paedophile files’ on MPs and VIPs. While not definitive about the VIPs identified, the ‘paedo-files’ do shed some light on what the spy agency knew about MPs and other prominent people who may have been sexually abusing children.
Mark Watts (@MarkWatts_1) is the co-ordinator of the FOIA Centre. This article was updated on 10.03.19, later on the day of first publication, to add some further details.
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