Scotland Yard investigating allegations senior politicians abused children in the 1980s and used 'connections' to escape justice

Metropolitan Police's child abuse investigation team have interviewed several adults who claim that they were sexually assaulted as children by MPs in a paedophile ring

Scotland Yard detectives are looking into allegations that senior politicians abused children in the 1980s and escaped justice because they were protected by their powerful connections.

During past weeks officers from the Metropolitan Police’s child abuse investigation team have interviewed several adults who claim that they were sexually assaulted as children by MPs in a paedophile ring.

The team was set up following claims by Labour MP Tom Watson in the House Commons that the police should look afresh at claims of a “powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10”.

Until today when the Metropolitan Police confirmed its existence, the inquiry, Operation Fairbank, had been operating in secret at the headquarters of the Child Abuse Investigation Team at Empress State Building in Earl’s Court, London.

Officers with the team, part of the Specialist Crimes and Operations Directorate, have spoken regularly to Mr Watson.

The Metropolitan Police stressed that Operation Fairbank was a “scoping exercise” aimed at a preliminary assessment of the evidence rather than a formal inquiry.

However, officers are understood to be taking the witnesses’s claims very seriously and are expected to make arrests in coming weeks.

Raising the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions on 24 October, Mr Watson - who alleged widespread phone hacking at the News of the World before police began a new inquiry - urged police to re-open the evidence file on Peter Righton.

Righton, a former consultant to the National Children’s Bureau, was convicted of importing and possessing illegal homosexual pornographic material in 1992.

Saying that the file contained “clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring”, the MP said: “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 clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10.”

Five officers are working on the inquiry.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: “Officers have spoken with MP Tom Watson who has passed on some information which is now being looked into.

“As a result, officers are continuing to collate information. This is being assessed by officers under Operation Fairbank.

“We would continue to appeal to anyone who has concerns to report them to us. Any information is treated with the utmost seriousness and can be given in confidence.”

Updating the public on the investigation into alleged sexual offences in showbusiness, Scotland Yard said that the number of alleged sex abuse victims of the late BBC TV presenter Jimmy Savile had reached 450.

Commander Peter Spindler, head of Operation Yewtree, suggested Savile - who escaped detection and died aged 84 last October - had been a serial abuser of children.

Commander Spindler said: "Savile's offending peaked in the 70s and what we can show, or will be showing in the New Year, is how he used his position in society across the country - the crimes relate to 17 different police force areas - how he exploited this position to get his sexual gratification."

In total, 589 alleged victims have come forward to allege abuse by Savile and others.

Over the past two months, detectives have arrested several high-profile names, including the comedian Freddie Starr, the former BBC disc jockey Dave Lee Travis, the former BBC producer Wilfred De'Ath and the publicist Max Clifford. They all deny any wrongdoing. Gary Glitter, who was also arrested, has not yet issued a statement.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy