Leon Brittan Exclusive: Tory peer questioned by police over rape allegation

Former home secretary accused of raping 19-year-old student in 1967

The former cabinet minister Leon Brittan has been questioned by police under caution in connection with an alleged rape, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

It is understood that the former Conservative home secretary has been accused of raping a 19-year-old student at his London flat in 1967 before he became an MP.

The alleged female victim is believed to have claimed that Lord Brittan, who went on to serve as home secretary from 1983 to 1985, raped her in his central London flat after a blind date.

It is understood that Lord Brittan strongly denied the allegation. The veteran Conservative figure, who was made a life peer in 2000, is understood to have been questioned by police at the central London offices of his lawyers Mishcon De Reya last month.

Last night a Metropolitan Police spokesman confirmed an allegation of rape had been made against a man in his seventies over an incident in 1967. The spokesman said: "The woman was over the age of 18 at the time of the incident. The allegation is being investigated by officers from the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command. In June 2014, a man aged in his seventies was interviewed under caution by appointment at a central London location in connection with the allegation. He was not arrested. Enquiries continue."

MP Tom Watson MP Tom Watson Last night, Lord Brittan declined to discuss the allegation, saying: "I'm sorry, I'm not going to talk about anything like that." Mishcon De Reya did not respond to requests for comment.

The detectives who questioned the veteran Conservative politician are understood to be part of Scotland Yard's Operation Fairbank inquiry team which was launched after Tom Watson MP made allegations of widespread child abuse in Parliament. The specific rape allegations against Lord Brittan are understood to have nothing to do with the Met's Operation Fernbridge investigations into child abuse.

The Home Office announced last night that it will re-examine a 2013 review into Mr Watson's allegations. The original review found that the department passed all relevant information concerning historical child abuse claims to police.

Mark Sedwill, Home Office Permanent Secretary, wrote to the Prime Minister confirming he would "engage a senior independent legal figure to assess" the outcome of the 2013 investigation. The review found that the Home Office had acted appropriately in relation to historical complaints of child abuse.

MP Keith Vaz MP Keith Vaz However, in a separate letter yesterday to Keith Vaz MP, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Mr Sedwill detailed how this review had established that 114 "potentially relevant files" had either been lost or destroyed.

He also added that it had not found a "single dossier" from late Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens, which was handed to Lord Brittan when he was home secretary in the 1980s. Rather, the 2013 report found records showing several "sets of correspondence".

The so-called "Dickens dossier", which was reported to contain allegations of a predatory paedophile network operating in Westminster during the 1980s, was at the centre of controversy last week when Lord Brittan confirmed he was handed the dossier. He said he had asked his officials to "look carefully" at the material.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions