Two arrested over claims that MPs took part in child-sex ring

Detectives question former deputy head of children's home and a Catholic priest

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of sexual offences by Scotland Yard detectives investigating allegations that some MPs belonged to an establishment paedophile ring in the 1980s.

A pensioner, 70, from East Sussex and another, aged 66, from Norfolk were held in dawn raids and questioned by child-abuse investigation officers from Operation Fernbridge. Police are looking into allegations that figures from politics, diplomacy and other spheres of public life abused children at a guest house in Barnes, south-west London.

Children from the local Grafton Close children's home are said to have been supplied to Elm Guest House. The 70-year-old man arrested at his home in St Leonards-on-Sea is understood to be John Stingemore, the former deputy head of Grafton Close. The other man was named by the Diocese of East Anglia as Father Tony McSweeney.

As The Independent reported last year, Scotland Yard launched Operation Fairbank into alleged historical sexual abuse, following claims by MP Tom Watson that an "aide of a former Prime Minister" had belonged to a paedophile network.

Powerful individuals used their connections to escape justice, the Labour MP claimed.

Some of the allegations were so serious that last month the Metropolitan Police began a full criminal investigation, Operation Fernbridge. The inquiry is proceeding with help from Mr Watson and the NSPCC.

Commander Peter Spindler, head of the Metropolitan Police's Specialist Crime Investigations, said: "This is a complex multi-agency 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.

"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." Scotland Yard pointed out that the allegations were not connected to current residents of the property. In an interview with ITV News, a former childcare worker, Mary Moss, claimed that the house in Rocks Lane had been used to make child pornography.

Asked who had visited there, Ms Moss, a former chair of the National Association of Young People in Care, said: "MPs. All sorts of prominent [people]… It was a child-porn racket. I don't think that necessarily anyone would be accused of just simply being perverts. This was a money-making business."

She added: "One of my cases that walked into the office was a young boy who had been abused there. And another case… was a boy who had been abused in another children's home and it all linked up.

"He [the abuse victim] was abused at Grafton Close children's home and procured for the Elm Guest House, where they were filmed to make child porn, which was then distributed."

Saying the police had not investigated properly, she added: "We were closed down… because of the names of the people who were involved."

Police are expected to make a public appeal asking for abuse victims to contact Mr Watson or the NSPCC later this week.

Peter Watt, of the NSPCC, said: "We will assist the police in gathering evidence and supporting those who come forward.

"It's important we recognise the massive impact abuse has on children and young people, often well into their adult life."

News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
art
News
newsIn short, yes
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
i100
Life and Style
Cara Delevigne at the TopShop Unique show during London Fashion Week
fashion
News
The life-sized tribute to Amy Winehouse was designed by Scott Eaton and was erected at the Stables Market in Camden
peopleBut quite what the singer would have made of her new statue...
Sport
England's Andy Sullivan poses with his trophy and an astronaut after winning a trip to space
sport
News
peopleThe actress has agreed to host the Met Gala Ball - but not until 2015
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories