The UK's Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) announced on Monday that it is investigating 14 high-level allegations that police suppressed evidence of child sexual abuse from the 1970s to the 2000s.
According to the IPCC, the assertions encompass the suppression of evidence, hindering or halting investigations, as well as covering up offenses because of the involvement of MPs, police officers, and other respected figures.
The relatively recent scope of the allegations — some as late as the 2005 — will draw added attention as previous allegations have largely been limited to the 1970s and 1980s.
All the allegations relate to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), the largest force in the country, which covers most of London.
One of the 14 allegations described in outline was "that during a sexual abuse investigation a senior officer instructed the investigation be halted and that that order had come from 'up high' in the MPS."
Eight of the allegations explicitly refer to politicians, while others mention "prominent persons," "high-profile people," and "members of the establishment including judges."
Another accusation seems to involve only the police: "Allegation that police officers sexually abused a boy and carried out surveillance on him. Further allegations of financial corruption in a London borough police force."
The IPCC said that they had received two referrals in addition to the 14 charges under investigation, and that the referrals were currently being assessed.
'I want these people nailed to a wall for what they did to those kids and the good cops who tried to stop them.'
The IPCC Deputy Chair Sarah Green said in a statement: "These allegations are of historic, high-level corruption of the most serious nature… Allegations of this nature are of grave concern and I would like to reassure people of our absolute commitment to ensuring that the investigations are thorough and robust."
The investigation will be conducted by the police under the supervision of the IPCC, the statement said.
The announcement comes in the wake of reporting by the investigative website Exaro, which revealed in December that current and former police officers had shared stories of cover-ups linking politicians to child sex offences using a secure online forum.
VICE News is reproducing a selection of the comments as they were reported by Exaro, with the addition of explanatory notes.
In one post, an ex-police sergeant, who Exaro refers to as Matthew, said: "Dave I don't know if you were on eight TSG [Territorial Support Group] when we did the big surveillance op on the pedophile ring but all we were following were lawyers and bloody police officers! (oddly as the op expanded up the greasy pole of high society the job got canned…)"
The Territorial Support Group was founded in 1987 primarily to police demonstrations, but also has a surveillance function, according to the Metropolitan Police website.
Another wrote: "We all heard whispers when we were serving, especially in the 80s, but it seems the scale was immense. I don't know how much it costs to bring justice to those who are abused, let's show that nobody is above the law."
Related: Why is the British government still withholding files on establishment child sex abuse? Read here.
One forum discussion referred to Operation Hedgerow, which carried out surveillance on a pedophile ring in Brent and Ealing between 1987 and 1989, and led to 14 convictions.
A former officer identified as Adam wrote: "Hedgerow might be more interesting got very close to Parliament."
An ex-police sergeant wrote: "A long, long time ago when I was on the crime squad we had a DI [detective inspector] who used to stay very late in his office drinking whiskey. He was a nice guy. Good cop. He used to tell you about an op he was on which uncovered pedos at the highest parts of the government and society. Then he told how SB [Special Branch] shut it all down one day. Took all the files in evidence. I never really knew if it was a 'lamp swinging' [wildly exaggerated story] back then. I do now. Poor bastard. That broke him. I want these people nailed to a wall for what they did to those kids and the good cops who tried to stop them."
'The undercover found that it went to cabinet level and four years of work was pulled overnight.'
Special Branch was a police unit dealing with issues related to national security that was disbanded in 2005. VICE News has previously reported that its officers were alleged to have been involved in suppressing evidence related to the serial child sex offender MP Cyril Smith, and others.
Yet another officer commented: "OK, My position is from first hand, knowing what the government & high ranking officers did to a DC [detective constable] who was investigating all this and possessed SOLID evidence. They destroyed the poor fella, ALL evidence was destroyed or disappeared & so on."
Another officer, identified by Exaro as a former detective constable, wrote: "In the 90s I uncovered a middle-class paedo ring at [a police station in East London]. It linked into a massive UC [undercover] pedo job which was being run by [a named detective sergeant]. The UC who shall remain nameless found that it went to cabinet level and four years of work was pulled overnight."
The IPCC has previously come under criticism for taking an insufficiently critical attitude toward alleged police wrongdoing.
In a 2013 internal review of the IPCC's work in investigating deaths, the watchdog noted a perception that they were "too close to the police institutionally and culturally."
"Many stakeholders were concerned about the number of IPCC staff — particularly IPCC investigators — who are former police officers and police staff. This was seen as resulting in favorable treatment of police officers by the IPCC during investigations," the report said.
The report also said that several steps had been taken to improve its independence.
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