Paedophile ring 'was protected by Downing St'


A powerful paedophile network may have operated in Britain protected by its connections to Parliament and Downing Street, a Labour politician suggested yesterday.

From the backbenches of the House of Commons, Tom Watson, deputy chairman of the Labour Party, called on the Metropolitan Police to re-open a closed criminal inquiry into paedophilia.

Mr Watson referred to the case of Peter Righton, who was convicted in 1992 of importing and possessing illegal homosexual pornographic material. Righton, a former consultant to the National Children's Bureau and lecturer at the National Institute for Social Work in London, admitted charges of illegal importation and possessing obscene material. He was fined £900.

At Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Watson, pictured, said the evidence file used to convict Righton "if it still exists, contains clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring".

He added: "One of its members boasts of a link 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 files still exist, I want to ensure that the Metropolitan Police secure the evidence, re-examine it, and investigate."

i understands that Mr Watson's comments were aimed at a living person associated with Margaret Thatcher's administration. They are thought to involve the activities of the Paedophile Information Exchange, a pro-paedophile group between 1974 and 1984, which believed there should be no age of consent.