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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


D.8: Concerns raised by Peter McKelvie

76. Peter McKelvie, a child protection specialist and retired social services employee and consultant, has raised concerns about child sexual abuse links to Westminster. Many of his concerns focus on Peter Righton, a convicted child sexual abuser who, prior to his conviction, held a senior position advising the government on childcare. The Inquiry received a large volume of documentation from Mr McKelvie, including a written statement.[1] He summarised his main concerns as follows:

I consider that the Peter Righton case and the evidence uncovered by the police during their investigations provided powerful evidence of a long-term and widespread paedophile network. Based on the evidence obtained by the police and seen by me, it appears clear that a number of the persons involved in the paedophile network were prominent individuals. I consider that the evidence shows that there was a failure to properly or fully investigate the full extent of the paedophile network.”[2]

77. Mr McKelvie has identified himself as “the source” of Tom Watson’s 2012 Parliamentary question,[3] in which Mr Watson alleged that there was “clear intelligence” of “a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No. 10”.[4] However, in his witness statement, Mr McKelvie suggested that Mr Watson’s question was based on information provided by “a number of sources”,[5] primarily two others, and that Mr McKelvie did not meet with Mr Watson until after the question had been asked.[6]

78. The Daily Telegraph subsequently reported that Mr McKelvie had suggested that Mr Watson acted prematurely in asking the question in Parliament, and that he “made exaggerated claims about a ‘powerful paedophile network’ linked to Downing Street”.[7]

I would never have wanted Tom Watson to do a PMQ as a tactic until he heard the whole story. The only thing I wanted to say about politicians is every institution has abusers in it. The more powerful people are, the more likely they are to get away with it. I never talked about rings.[8]

In his witness statement, Mr McKelvie claimed that The Daily Telegraph report had been published without his approval and had misquoted him.[9]

79. Mr McKelvie also played a role in bringing to light the allegation of Timothy Hulbert that the Home Office had funded PIE.[10]

80. Mr McKelvie’s concerns were the subject of an IOPC investigation known as Operation Redrail 2. A draft closing report of Operation Redrail 2 was provided to the Inquiry.[11] Mr McKelvie had concerns that Metropolitan Police investigations into Peter Righton had not been conducted properly due to the interference of prominent individuals.[12] Peter Righton was investigated initially by West Mercia Police, but later by the Paedophile Unit of the Obscene Publications Squad at New Scotland Yard as part of a broader police operation known as Operation Clarence, which mainly investigated teachers, doctors and clergymen. Operation Clarence ran for 10 years between 1988 and 1998 and is said in the Operation Redrail 2 report to have resulted in 12 convictions, four cautions, seizure of indecent material and valuable intelligence.[13]

81. The Operation Redrail 2 report records that Mr McKelvie stated that he did not have any complaints but believed that certain links were not pursued sufficiently rigorously.[14] He raised several separate areas of concern, which can be summarised as follows:

81.1. The Metropolitan Police had failed to investigate connections between a peer, Lord Henniker (who died in 2004, and was never convicted of child sexual abuse[15]), and three convicted child sexual abusers, Peter Righton, Charles Napier and Richard Alston. Mr McKelvie believed that these individuals were involved in child sexual abuse together and were protected from investigation by the establishment.[16] Mr McKelvie did not have any direct evidence but believed that there was enough circumstantial evidence to require an investigation.[17]

81.2. Despite being a convicted child sexual abuser, Mr Napier had obtained a teaching post abroad with the British Council through his relationship with Lord Henniker, who was Director General of the British Council.[18] While working abroad in Cairo, Napier also made use of or had been allowed to use the diplomatic bag to send or receive child pornography,[19] which had not been investigated.

81.3. An individual who later became an MP knew about Napier’s abuse of children but was not interviewed.[20]

81.4. Mr McKelvie had raised these concerns with the detective superintendent who ran Operation Clarence, but was informed by him in 1993 that the investigation would not be taken any further due to decisions made “from above”.[21]

82. Each of Mr McKelvie’s areas of concern was investigated, but none could be supported. There was no information to corroborate Mr McKelvie’s concern that Lord Henniker, Righton, Napier and Alston were abusing children together.[22] Charles Napier did work overseas with the British Council, but this was well after Lord Henniker had ceased to be its Director General.[23] No evidence was referred to in the Operation Redrail 2 report in relation to Mr McKelvie’s concern that a person who later became an MP may have known about Napier’s abuse of children. The report found that Napier did have use of the diplomatic bag and it was possible that he may have used it to send indecent images of children; there was no evidence either way. His authority to use the diplomatic bag was removed at the same time that he was suspended from his teaching role, when it became known that he was a risk.[24]

83. No evidence was found to suggest that Operation Clarence was closed prematurely.[25] The detective superintendent was interviewed by Operation Winter Key officers and denied that any outside influences had interfered with the investigation and that he had had the reported conversation with Mr McKelvie.[26] Individuals put forward by Mr McKelvie as supporting his concerns did not provide that support.[27] While Mr McKelvie believed that Operation Clarence was stopped in 1993, the evidence shows that it finished in 1998.[28] The IOPC, in its closing submissions,[29] identified Operation Clarence as an example of a police investigation that in reality had been successful although it was believed to have been closed inappropriately prematurely.

84. We received post-hearing submissions from Mr McKelvie, the Metropolitan Police and the IOPC, which clarified a number of points.

84.1. In response to Mr McKelvie’s questions about the remit and extent of Operation Clarence, the Metropolitan Police explained that Operation Clarence was an intelligence-gathering exercise initially prompted by material found at Charles Napier’s address. It began in 1988 and ran until 1998, and identified 17 suspects in all. Righton, Alston and Napier fell within Operation Clarence. Righton was a person of interest from 1992 and did not feature after 1994. There were also many other persons of interest to Operation Clarence and its focus was not limited to Righton, Alston and Napier. Neither the Operation Redrail 2 report nor Mr Mahaffey implied otherwise.

84.2. The Metropolitan Police further explained that several police forces were briefed with intelligence from Operation Clarence. Relevant investigations were also carried out by other police forces, notably, West Mercia Police and Gloucestershire Constabulary, which included efforts to trace victims and witnesses. Useful documents were passed to Operation Clarence. The Metropolitan Police also clarified that there is no reliable evidence that an MP was at Napier’s home when boys were present. In addition, there is no mention in the Operation Clarence file that a diplomatic bag was ever investigated by the Obscene Publications Squad. Two officers have denied it, despite a press article that suggested otherwise.

84.3. Mr McKelvie raised questions about the number and nature of the convictions arising from Operation Clarence; in particular, whether any were for physical child sexual abuse rather than possession of indecent images, and whether any were linked to the intelligence gathered from Peter Righton’s home in 1992. The Metropolitan Police provided some further information on the number of arrests and convictions, but noted that there is no single database that collates the exact figures, and that further detailed research would be needed to answer this point. Although the Operation Redrail 2 report refers to 12 convictions and four cautions resulting from Operation Clarence,[30] the Metropolitan Police have since told us that there were 14 convictions and two cautions. It is unsatisfactory that neither the IOPC nor the Metropolitan Police could substantiate what offences those convictions were for or to which cases they related.

84.4. Both the IOPC and the Metropolitan Police have acknowledged Mr McKelvie’s proactive role in assisting police investigations. Mr McKelvie may have lacked knowledge about the actions and investigations carried out by Operation Clarence because he was not told about them. This may also have been because of inconsistent press reporting. The Metropolitan Police Service, with the support of the IOPC, have undertaken to offer to meet Mr McKelvie in order to assess whether his concerns have been fully answered and whether any further action is required, including the reopening of Operation Redrail 2, the opening of a new investigation or whether all matters have been satisfactorily dealt with.

85. Mr McKelvie appears genuine in his concerns. However, he has not claimed to have hard evidence to support them. A police investigation was conducted over a period of 10 years which resulted in convictions. Righton, Napier and Alston were all at one time or another convicted of offences related to child sexual abuse. We have seen no evidence of Lord Henniker being involved in child sexual abuse activities and no evidence that other figures in the establishment were aware of the activities of Righton, Alston and Napier.

86. Mr McKelvie might have had more confidence in the police investigations in which he assisted had the Metropolitan Police kept him better informed about their progress.

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