Detectives investigating historic claims of child abuse highlighted by a Labour MP have arrested two men from Norfolk and East Sussex on suspicion of sexual offences, Scotland Yard has announced.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan police said the two men, who were arrested on Wednesday morning, were in police custody. Police said they were a 66-year-old man from Norfolk and a 70-year-old man from East Sussex.
Scotland Yard launched the investigation, known as Operation Fernbridge, last month after the Labour MP Tom Watson spoke of claims that a “senior aide of a former prime minister” had links to a member of a paedophile ring.
Its inquiries are focusing on allegations of child abuse in the early 1980s at the Elm Guest House and the Grafton Close care home, both in Barnes, West London.
In October last year, Watson claimed a file of evidence used to convict Peter Righton of importing indecent images of children in 1992 contained “clear intelligence” of a sex abuse gang. Speaking in parliament, he alleged that a member of the group had bragged about links with a senior aide to a former prime minister.
Raising the issue during prime minister’s questions, Watson said: “The evidence file used to convict paedophile Peter Righton, if it still exists, contains clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring. One of its members boasts of his links to a senior aide of a former prime minister, who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad.
“The leads were not followed up, but if the file still exists I want to ensure that the Metropolitan police secure the evidence, re-examine it and investigate clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and No 10.”
Commander Peter Spindler, the head of the Met’s specialist crimeinvestigations, said: “This is a complex, multiagency investigation supported by the NSPCC, Ceop [Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre] and Richmond social services involving non-recent allegations of sexual assault against children.”
He asked anyone with information on the assaults to come forward.
“It is vital that anyone who has been affected by or has information about activity in the early 1980s at the Elm Guest House, or the Grafton Close care home, in Barnes speaks to the NSPCC on their Helpline on 0808 800 5000, or their local police,” he said.
A spokesman for Richmond council, which ran the care home, said: “Richmond council considers the safeguarding of all children and young people as an utmost priority and we take any allegations of abuse very seriously.
“As such we are offering our full support and co-operation to the police during their investigation. As the investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
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