EXCLUSIVE: ‘I was warned off’ says detective involved in historic paedophile probe
A FORMER police chief told how his superiors tried to stop a major paedophile investigation, warning: “Don’t open the box, you will never get the lid back on.”
December 21, 2014
By JAMES FIELDING
The site of the former Elm Guest House in Barnes, London
Retired Detective Chief Superintendent Roger Gaspar said Scotland Yard top brass feared what Operation Hedgerow would unearth when it was launched in August 1987.
He told the Sunday Express he was denied extra resources and was told to “deal with what he had” throughout the two-year inquiry.
Mr Gaspar, who now lives on the Essex coast, also suggested a paedophile unit should be set up to investigate abuse in the late 1980s, but the request was turned down.
The operation centred on a north London paedophile ring in Kilburn and dealt with 653 claims by 150 boys and young men.
Over 20 were arrested and 14 men convicted.
According to reports at the time the ring was “used by highly placed civil servants and well known public figures”, but police lacked the “evidence or manpower to pursue them in court”.
During the investigation accusations were uncovered of abuse at Grafton Close, a boys home linked to the notorious Elm Guest House.
The names of two prominent people, a top MP and a member of high society were also given by victims during the inquiry.
However, Mr Gaspar said he found no evidence to support the claims.
Last week the Metropolitan Police confirmed they are probing allegations of three murders linked to historic sex abuse by an alleged Westminster paedophile ring.
I was warned not to open the box to find what else is going on because it would just carry on and on
As part of the inquiry, Operation Midland, and the wider Operation Fairbank, officers are trawling through a haul of 900 documents.
Mr Gaspar was a detective chief inspector when Operation Hedgerow began after allegations against social worker Kenneth Martin were made to Kilburn police.
He said: “I was lucky that I had a great deal of support from senior officers, some of whom were advised not to do it by other senior officers.
“There was this ‘don’t open the box, you’ll never get the lid back on’ kind of idea.
"There were a couple of policy discussions.
"Early on I went to see the commander about resources because I needed aid from other divisions, but I was told to just deal with what I had.
“I was warned not to open the box to find what else is going on because it would just carry on and on... which is the kind of the thing the Met is finding now with its historic abuse inquiries.”
The names of the MP and member of high society were provided by boys aged in their early teens, who were akin to rent boys in Piccadilly Circus and Victoria Station.
Mr Gaspar said his officers took the view that the information had little credibility.
He said: “When you are doing an inquiry like that, lots of names get thrown at you.
"There were a couple of famous names... but when we looked at them it was rubbish.”
Files from Operation Hedgerow were among the first to be computerised by the Met and named about 30 suspects who were worth further investigation.
Mr Gaspar also wrote an internal report called People Not Property, which recommended a specialist paedophile unit be set up at the end of the 1980s, but it was shelved.
He recalled: “I put up a proposal asking that if we had an obscene publication unit, why can’t we afford a team to focus more on a proper intelligence led approach.
“My proposal went to the Yard but was rejected.”