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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all