Leon Brittan and the Leeds child abuse dossier

In February 1985, the Yorkshire Evening Post revealed that ‘a horrifying dossier on child prostitution in Leeds – involving girls as young as nine – has been compiled by shocked social services chiefs‘.

As many as 60 under-age girls are known to have been involved in illegal sex activities…in the south Leeds area

Eight of the girls involved had been taken into the care of the local authority at some stage and six of them were still in care today

Councillor Bernard Atha, the chairman of the city’s social services committee, said he was ‘horrified by the magnitude of the problem’, which he believed was the largest case of its kind in the country.

The MP for Leeds South, Merlyn Rees, obviously agreed with Councillor Atha’s assessment of the scale of the problem, as four days later the Yorkshire Evening Post reported that he was to write to the Home Secretary, Leon Brittan.

Mr Rees said “It is very worrying and obviously something needs to be done. This could be just the tip of the iceberg and I want the Home Secretary to investigate“.

So, what did Leon Brittan do about it?

There were no statements read by him in Parliament, and unless a government initiative to crack down on child abuse was launched in secret, it seems Mr. Brittan did nothing.

A news report from June 1985 said that “three new cases of paid sex involving under-age children were being investigated” – so the problem obviously hadn’t been solved. 120 girls had been questioned, but there’s nothing in the report about the ringleaders who were sexually exploiting children being arrested.

Perhaps Bernard Atha, who is still a Leeds councillor, can shed some light on this?

Yorkshire Evening Post, 14th February 1985

YEP14285Yorkshire Evening Post, 18th February 1985

YEP18285Daily Express, 24th June 1985


This was clearly a national problem, as the following year Geoffrey Dickens exposed a ‘child brothel’ involving up to 40 children that was being run on a North London council estate. This was swiftly covered up and Dickens was told he must apologise to the residents that he had insulted. More

In November 1983, Geoffrey Dickens gave the Home Secretary, Leon Brittan, a dossier on the Paedophile Information Exchange, who wanted the age of consent reduced to 4 years old, and allegations of child sexual abuse by Buckingham Palace staff. In January 1984, Dickens gave Brittan a second dossier detailing sexual abuse at a children’s home, and naming prominent paedophiles including a television executive. More

It appears that Brittan failed to act on the contents of both dossiers. Nothing was done to help the children who were being abused, and nothing was done to bring the abusers to justice. Tom Watson MP tabled a written PMQ to the current Home Secretary, Theresa May, on 25th February 2013, asking for the whereabouts of the dossiers. Nearly 5 months have passed and there’s still no reply from Theresa May… More

  1. Matt said:

    So he lied about British Aerospace, didn’t remember the Dickens’ dossier and did not act on information regarding these poor girls in South Leeds. The list is getting larger. Mr Brittan should be investigated as to why he continued to ignore the plight of our nation’s children who needed his help when he was Home Secretary. Also, I would like him to ‘clear’ his name as to why his name, allegedly, appeared on a list of people that frequented a brothel known for child abuse in Barnes. Perhaps Mr William Hague could shed some light on it?

  2. I’m looking for some ******* answers I’m ******* looking everwhere! All I ******* get is ******* blanks blank and more ******* blakes WTF is going on?

  3. Topsy said:

    I have written to my MP re these dossiers from Mr Dickens. I have received a bog standard reply stating there was an ongoing search, (alreadr 8 weeks had passed since Tom Watson’s question at the time of this reply) and there was no acknowledgement of my request to be kept informed. My local MP is no 2 to Gove in the Education Department, with responsibility for children.

  4. It appears that Leon Brittan failed to act on a number of occasions – a number of occasions where child abuse is right at the fore. Leon Brittan is a man who owes the world some very very serious answers.

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