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."

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
News
Bey can do it: Beyoncé re-enacts Rosie the Riveter's pose
newsRosie the Riveter started out as an American wartime poster girl and has become a feminist pin-up. With Beyoncé channeling her look, Gillian Orr tells her story
Life and Style
Donna and Paul Wheatley at their wedding
healthShould emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for