Skip to main content

IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Allegations of child sexual abuse linked to Westminster Investigation Report


Part C: Searches at the security and intelligence agencies and at Metropolitan Police Special Branch

1. As part of this investigation, the Inquiry commissioned searches of documents and records at the Security Service (MI5), the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, otherwise known as MI6) and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). We also commissioned similar searches of Metropolitan Police Special Branch (MPSB) records, which are now held within the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command. The purpose of all these searches was to establish whether any of those organisations held documents relevant to allegations of Westminster child sexual abuse. We regarded this as an important element of our work. It responded to some public concern that evidence of Westminster child sexual abuse, perhaps even of a ‘Westminster paedophile network’, might be concealed within the records of these organisations, which are largely held in secret.

2. This was an extensive exercise. We liaised with each organisation to set wide search terms that would form the basis of their searches. The search terms included a comprehensive list of names of prominent individuals connected to Westminster against whom allegations of child sexual abuse had been made.

3. Once the searches had been conducted, security-cleared members of the Inquiry’s legal team spent time validating the searches, examining documents and on occasions requesting further targeted searches. At a later stage, the Chair also examined documents at MI5 headquarters, where the vast majority of relevant documents were found. Some of the documents that we looked at were classified at the highest levels. Each of the four organisations provided us with its full cooperation and complied with all requests for access to documentation.

4. Further details of the way in which the search exercises were conducted and their outcome can be found in the witness statements of:

  • the MI5 Witness, in particular paragraphs 13 to 28;[1]
  • the SIS Witness, in particular paragraphs 3 to 8;[2]
  • the GCHQ Witness, in particular paragraphs 7 to 13;[3] and
  • Detective Inspector Alastair Pocock[4] (paragraphs 2 to 8) and Commander Neil Jerome[5] (paragraph 6) of the Metropolitan Police Service.

5. The searches did reveal documentation suggesting that some prominent individuals associated with Westminster were or may have been involved in child sexual abuse. Given the scale and breadth of the searches, it would have been surprising had they not done so. Most of the documents in this category were held by MI5, which is again unsurprising given the domestic focus of its work.

6. The MI5 Witness included a table[6] of these documents, including a column indicating how the information would be dealt with, under MI5’s current safeguarding policy, if the information was received now:

Table 1: MI5 Witness information related to potential child sexual abuse

Individual Information Related to Potential Abuse How would the current policy have applied if it had been in force at the time?

Chief of SIS

In 1987, the Prime Minister informed the House of Commons that Sir Maurice Oldfield had told her in March 1980 that he had occasionally had homosexual encounters. His Positive Vetting clearance was withdrawn and MI5 conducted a lengthy investigation to determine whether Sir Maurice’s sexual activities posed a risk to national security by making him vulnerable to blackmail or other pressure.

The investigation included many interviews with Sir Maurice in which he provided information about homosexual encounters with male domestic staff, referred to as ‘houseboys’, whilst serving in the Middle East in the 1940s and hotel stewards in Asia in the 1950s.

This information was previously unknown to MI5 (and, as it was understood by the MI5 Witness, to the other security and intelligence agencies, SIS and GCHQ).

There is insufficient information in the records to deduce whether the term ‘houseboys’ is being used simply to describe domestic staff or to denote youth, leaving ambiguity over the ages of the other parties.

This information would be passed to the police.

HAYMAN, Peter Telford


In 1980, MI5 received information that suggested that Peter Hayman engaged in sexual activities with young boys.

This information would be passed to the police.



Chairman of the Labour Party

In 1981, MI5 received information that suggested that Tom Driberg had engaged in sexual activities with young boys.

This information would be passed to the police.



In the mid-1980s MI5 received information from two sources that Peter Morrison “has a penchant for small boys”.

This information would be passed to the police.


MP, Minister

In the mid-1980s, MI5 received information one afternoon that suggested that Leon Brittan or a close MP associate of Leon Brittan engaged in sexual relations with teenagers. Further information was received the next morning clarifying that the information did not in fact relate to Leon Brittan, but was rumoured to relate to the MP associate. Further information was received later in the week that clarified that the rumour had been started by a prisoner turned down for parole out of vindictiveness.

This information would be passed to the police as relating to the MP associate (not to Leon Brittan), together with the information about it being the product of vindictiveness.

CHATAWAY, Christopher


In 1973, the Cabinet Office informed MI5 of rumours that Christopher Chataway engaged in sexual activities with children.

As this information came from another government department, MI5 would ask the Cabinet Office if they had passed the information to the police and, if not, would agree who should do so.

IRVING, Charles Graham


Over a number of years MI5 received information on several occasions that Charles Irving was homosexual.

In 1984, MI5 received information that whilst overseas Charles Irving had rented a hotel room “to take boys”.

This information would be passed to the police.

LAMBTON, Anthony

(later Lord Lambton)


In 1973, the police passed MI5 information about an alleged video recording that showed Anthony Lambton involved in sexual activities with a boy.

As this information came from the police, MI5 would not take any action.

PETERS, Colin John Meredith


In 1968, MI5 received information from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office about the refusal of Positive Vetting clearance for Colin Peters. This was due to his arrest in Naples the previous year on allegations of the criminal assault of three Italian boys and his admission that he had committed homosexual acts.

As this information came from another government department, MI5 would ask the Foreign & Commonwealth Office if they had passed the information to the police and, if not, would agree who should do so.


MP, Minister

In 1982, MI5 received information that suggested that William Van Straubenzee engaged in sexual activities with young boys whilst in Northern Ireland. This information was shared with the Cabinet Office, who shared it with the Prime Minister.

This information would be passed to the police.


7. The searches did therefore reveal documents showing individual instances of actual or possible Westminster-related child sexual abuse. However, no material was found at any of the four organisations to indicate either the existence of a ‘Westminster paedophile network’ or of any attempts to cover up or suppress information about the existence of such a network.

Back to top