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Child abuse at the heart of the British establishment

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The flawed inquiry into institutional child abuse heard new damning evidence last week—unreported by the media—about how the state dealt with abusers, writes Simon Basketter
Issue 2648
Spy Peter Hayman escaped justice
Spy Peter Hayman escaped justice

Child abusing senior spy Sir Peter Hayman escaped prosecution in 1978 after his solicitor lobbied the then Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in person.

The DPP Sir Thomas Hetherington, agreed not to ­prosecute senior MI6 officer Hayman, at a private meeting with his solicitor, Sir David Napley.

Police investigated Hayman initially by accident.

They went to question a man called Peter Henderson at a sparse flat in Notting Hill, west London.

Henderson was on the membership list of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), which promoted sex with children.

Police found 45 volumes of diaries in which he repeatedly described child abuse.

Officers also found a stack of correspondence with other PIE members, exchanging their desires and images of child sexual abuse.

He also had a collection of “trophies” hanging in a cupboard.

A package of “obscene literature” was found on a bus in London. It was addressed to “Peter Henderson”.


According to an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) document, cops discovered a leather briefcase belonging to Hayman in St Regents Park, central London.

Inside were “ 20 envelopes containing black-and-white photographs of boys aged 8-11 years, dressed only in their ‘Y-fronts’.”

The letters and photos matched with many that had been found in Henderson’s flat.

Henderson was Hayman’s cover name.

According to the IOPC document, “Unaware of who Sir Peter Hayman was, the officers completed a check on the name and realised that he was the Queen’s High Commissioner to Canada.

“The supervisor took the briefcase from the officers and apparently said, ‘Keep your gobs shut and don’t say anything’.”

Bryan Collins was the detective who first questioned Hayman.

When Hayman’s identity was revealed, he visited Collins and his partner in Scotland Yard and offered them £25,000 each to drop the case. They refused.

Collins said he had a telephone call from Sir David Napley, who was the president of the Law Society, as well as being Hayman’s solicitor.

Napley wanted to know who at the DPP’s office was dealing with the case of Hayman.

After Collins stalled, Napley said he would speak to the DPP himself.

The day after Napley’s telephone call, Collins told the inquiry, his chief inspector told him Hayman was going to be cautioned. In the inquiry a lawyer said to Collins, “You’ve got statements there saying that a Mr Wardell had sadistic material connected with the description of sexual offences on children which he exchanged with Hayman.”

Collins said, “Wardell was a bus inspector.

“He didn’t have Sir David Napley, did he?

“He was prosecuted for exactly the self-same material that Hayman had.” The lawyer asked, “The way you see it, Mr Collins, it was Sir Thomas Hetherington doing a deal with Sir David Napley in relation to Sir Peter Hayman?”

Collins replied, “Best club in the world, isn’t it: three knights of the realm? You know, not bad, is it?”

Collins added that while Hayman’s lawyer said he was suicidal, Hayman appeared as a contestant on Mastermind shortly afterwards. Jeremy Naunton, a solicitor who worked on the case in the DPP’s office, confirmed the private meeting at the DPP and the cover-up to the inquiry.

Hayman was convicted of gross indecency in 1984, and died in 1992.

A note in Hayman’s DPP file records, “It seems no harm has been done to anyone.”

More information about the ongoing inquiry can be found online at

Investigations against powerful were dropped despite evidence

The police pet watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), began looking at police work in abuse cases from the 1970s onwards.

It began investigations after complaints from retired officers in 2014 and 2015, including from Bryan Collins.

These cops claimed that evidence had been suppressed in 37 investigations into influential people.

After an “extensive” review, the IOPC concluded that in 36 of 37 cases “no sufficient evidence” existed “to support allegations of misconduct”.

It said the one outstanding matter could not be pursued as the officer in the case had died.

The IOPC’s decisions to abandon investigations came despite a number of powerful examples.

Robert Glen, a former head of Scotland Yard’s vice squad, revealed that details of Liberal MP Cyril Smith’s offending had come from one of his sergeants. He told the inquiry, “It was quite clear there was real evidence to suggest Cyril Smith was involved in some sort of obscenity with young boys.

“He was seen in the company of young boys; seen entering a property.”

Glen said he sought permission for an arrest warrant from Chief Supt Neil Diver, who was the senior office in charge at the time.

Glen said, “He was angry, he turned round and said I should never have got involved in it— it was far too sensitive and would cause political upheaval and we were told to stop.”

Coincidentally, Catherine Roper of the Met and Christopher Mahaffey of the “Independent” Office for Police Conduct attended the inquiry last week.

They sat together to give evidence in the witness box.

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