Police suspected that a former Labour party chairman was sexually abusing teenage boys but were blocked from bringing charges by the Director of Public Prosecutions, a campaigning MP has claimed.
The new allegations concern Tom Driberg, a prominent Labour politician in the 1950s and 1960s, and were made by retired detective sergeant in the Metropolitan Police, according to the Simon Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale.
“He told my office that in 1968 he was a junior member of a team who monitored a succession of teenage escapees from Feltham Young offenders Institute entering the house of Tom Driberg,” said Mr Danczuk, during a speech at the Cass Business School, London, on Wednesday evening.
“[Michael Cookson, the police offficer] alleges that the boys were interviewed and it soon became clear that they had been abused by Driberg and wanted charges to be brought against him. So did the police and filed an application to charge to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Norman Skelhorn,” he added.
Mr Danczuk said the retired officer, who contacted his office last year, claimed police were confident an arrest would take place.
“They were clear that obvious crimes were being committed. But then nothing happened. Eventually, he said word came back that Skelhorn had ruled out any chance of prosecution and they were told not to proceed with the case because it was not in the public interest.
The Rochdale MP added: “If Cookson’s story is true, I certainly don’t think it’s unique. I’d heard similar stories from officers trying to investigate Cyril Smith and I’m sure this type of scenario repeated itself with other important people.”
Sir Norman Skelhorn also blocked attempts to prosecute Liberal MP Cyril Smith and the Conservative MP Victor Montagu for the sexual abuse of boys, he claimed.
“What kind of message does that send out? That if you are among society’s elites then you have carte blanche to sexually abuse poorer people. I believe this attitude has long been ingrained in certain sections of society and has poisoned our justice system,” said Mr Danczuk.
Mr Driberg started out as a journalist, founding the William Hickey gossip column in the Daily Express, before becoming the MP for Maldon in 1942. By 1957 he was chairman of the Labour Party, a role he stepped down from in 1958. He spent 15 years as MP for Barking before being made a life peer in 1975.
But the openly gay politician’s private life saw him repeatedly come under police scrutiny. In 1935 he was acquitted of ‘gross indecency’ with two strangers. And he was caught with a Norwegian sailor in 1943, but not arrested. His friendship with the Kray twins led to MI5 keeping a file on him amid allegations that the Krays would provide ‘rent boys’ for Mr Driberg. And it emerged in 1999 that the Labour politician, who died in 1976, had also been a KGB spy codenamed Lepage. ”
The retired police officer who made the allegations regarding Mr Driberg has since died, but Mr Danczuk has written to Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions, demanding she disclose any documents relating to the former Labour Party chair, who died in 1976. Speaking to The Independent, Mr Danczuk said: “Perhaps some of the victims are still out there, and perhaps it would help them to know if he was suspected of committing these types of crimes.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service said: “We can confirm we have received the letter from Mr Danczuk and we will reply in due course.”