British police are investigating allegations that senior politicians were involved in the murder of young boys as part of a pedophile ring operating in the upper reaches of the government, law enforcement and the military during the 1970s and 1980s.
The claims center around the testimony of an alleged abuse survivor in his 40s, named only as Nick, who says he witnessed three killings at the hands of the group's members. They follow a string of revelations of historical child abuse that have had far-reaching implications for the British government and raised questions over official complicity in crimes dating back decades.
Nick told the BBC and Exaro, an investigative news website, that when he was 11 he was "given" by his father to a group of prominent pedophiles who worked in politics, security services, and the military. Among those he claimed had raped him is Sir Peter Hayman, a former deputy director of the British intelligence agency MI6 who died in 1992, aged 78.
Nick claimed the group were "well organized," and said he was told when and where to wait. A car would pick him up and he'd be driven to "abuse parties" at hotels and private apartments in various parts of London, including Dolphin Square in the upmarket neighborhood of Pimlico.
Nick said that on one occasion he was raped over a bathtub while his head was held beneath the water.
He said his abusers were "a group of men, very powerful people and they controlled my life for the next nine years. They created fear that penetrated every part of me."
"I've never experienced pain like it. I hope I never do again, but some of it was deliberate because they set rules that were just impossible to follow so you couldn't help but break the rules on occasions and you were punished for that, which some of them enjoyed. The more pain the better from their point of view."
Nick's allegations also include details of three murders he claims to have witnessed.
One was of a brown-haired boy, who Nick said was strangled by a Conservative parliamentarian while in the same room as him. Nick estimated the child was about 12. "I am not sure how I got out of that. Whether I will ever know why I survived, I am not sure."
He also detailed another alleged killing by two men whose names he did not know, which he said took place in front of another Conservative politician, a former cabinet minister.
Nick claimed that, in a third incident, a member of the paedophile group deliberately drove over and killed another boy in south-west London in broad daylight during the summer of 1979. He estimated that this boy was aged 10 or 11, and said he had interpreted this as a warning of what would happen if he ever attempted to speak out.
Exaro has been investigating the link between systematic child abuse and the government since 2012.
Mark Watts, Exaro's editor-in-chief, told VICE News that they now have "part of the picture, and it's an ugly one at that," but that there is a lot more work to be done.
Watts said that there is a lot of information about the scandal that hasn't yet been released to the public. "We want the police investigation to work, and there's a long history of the police failing to investigate these kinds of claims, so one of the factors in our mind all the time is to limit what to reveal in order not to disrupt the police investigation."
London's Metropolitan Police announced in a statement on Friday that they are investigating allegations of child abuse and "possible homicide."
"Based on our current knowledge, this is the first time that this specific information has been passed to the Met. At this early stage in this inquiry, with much work still to do, it is not appropriate to issue appeals or reveal more information.
"Detectives from the child abuse investigation command are working closely with colleagues from the homicide and major crime command concerning this information, which is being looked at under the name of Operation Midland."
They added: "We will not comment upon speculation as to the identity of any person or locations that may or may not feature in this inquiry."
Watts told VICE News that the Metropolitan Police had indicated to Exaro several weeks ago that they shouldn't reveal any information about the alleged murders for fear of damaging the investigation. "Yet they were the ones that revealed it. We were very surprised."
Watts added: "There's been lot of speculation, a lot of misreporting about it... People have been saying that it was one murder, it was not involving a politician, and that it was at Dolphin Square, and all of those points were false."
In relation to the boys who were allegedly murdered, he said that Exaro's investigation had "kind of worked out who one or maybe two of them are, so it's not entirely clear yet. Nick didn't have precise details. He knew the first name of the boy who was run over but he didn't know the others."
In terms of the scale of what could be discovered and the implications of the information that has already been released, Watts said: "I think this is of absolutely enormous proportions. Expenses were a trifling matter in comparison to this. This is Britain's biggest post-war political scandal."
The allegations have their roots in Operation Fairbank, an investigation launched in 2012 after abuse claims relating to an alleged government-linked paedophile ring were passed to a member of parliament (MP).
Labour MP Tom Watson, the politician who — back in 2012 — demanded that a inquiry be opened, said: "The allegations of cruelty, torture and murder are truly shocking and go far beyond the case I raised with the Prime Minister two years ago… If true, this is a vital piece of the jigsaw in the pursuit of organized child abuse. We are at the point where the government should consider a national police inquiry made up of specialists from around the country."
The British government has faced huge criticism for the way it has dealt with allegations of child abuse, and the question of whether there was an institutional cover up over a slew of cases involving public figures that have come to light in recent years. A review commissioned by Home Secretary Theresa May into official handling of child abuse allegations — including the recent scandal in Rotherham, where authorities ignored complaints of a pedophile ring operating around children's homes — failed to find 114 files on claims made in the 1980s. Fiona Woolf, the chair of the inquiry, was forced to resign at the end of last month after her links to the Westminster political establishment were exposed. She is the second chair to do so since the inquiry was announced in July.
_Photo via _Jim Linwood/Flickr
_Follow Sally Hayden on Twitter: _@sallyhayd