In 1995, the BBC showed a Michael Cockerell documentary called Westminster’s Secret Service about the role of the chief whip, whose task it is to ensure MPs attend important debates and vote as the party leadership desires. It was revealed that the chief whip kept a little black ‘dirt book’ which contained information about MPs, and this was used as a method of political control.
Tim Fortescue, who was one of Ted Heath’s whips from 1970-73, said:
For anyone with any sense, who was in trouble, would come to the whips and tell them the truth, and say now, I’m in a jam, can you help? It might be debt, it might be…..erm……erm, a scandal involving small boys, or any kind of scandal in which, erm er, a member seemed likely to be mixed up in, they’d come and ask if we could help and if we could, we did. And we would do everything we can because we would store up brownie points……., and if I mean, that sounds a pretty, pretty nasty reason, but it’s one of the reasons because if we could get a chap out of trouble then, he will do as we ask forever more.
In short, the chief whip would cover up any scandal, even if it involved “small boys”, child sexual abuse, child rape, whatever you want to call it. They wouldn’t report the crime to the police, although they may use their contacts with the police to make sure to make sure the matter went no further. This means that a paedophile would be the ideal candidate for promotion within the party, easily blackmailed and bought, loyalty and discretion guaranteed.
An example of how the dirt book may have been used is the case of Sir Peter Morrison, who was Conservative MP for Chester from 1974-1992, as well as being Margaret Thatcher’s Parliamentary Private Secretary. Morrison has been linked to a notorious paedophile ring that sexually abused children in North Wales care homes. Chris House, who worked as reporter for the Daily Mirror, twice received tip-offs about Morrison being caught abusing underage boys which resulted in just a police caution, but libel threats stopped the newspaper from running the story. Peter Connew, the former editor of the Sunday Mirror, said “such was the hush-up that nobody could get hold of a log of the arrest”.
Edwina Currie, who was a Conservative MP at the time, said “Peter Morrison has become the PM’s PPS. Now he’s what they call ‘a noted pederast’,’ with a liking for young boys; he admitted as much to Norman Tebbitt when he became deputy chairman of the party, but added, ‘However, I’m very discreet’ – and he must be!”
It seems possible that Morrison was given the job of PPS precisely because he was a paedophile; the party had ‘dirt’ on him so they could rely on his loyalty. Morrison was an alcoholic, famously incompetent, and often found asleep at his desk, so I can’t think of any other reasons for his promotion to PPS. Not a thought was given to the poor children who he abused, and nobody in his party went to the police to stop him committing these crimes. Edwina Currie was quite happy to save this ‘gossip’ about child rape to boost her book sales.
If an MP’s ‘indiscretions’ became too public to cover up, they were demoted or exiled to an obscure position. Mike Hames, who was head of Scotland Yard’s Obscene Publications Branch, talked of a raid on a brothel during which a man in pinstriped suit announced that he a cabinet minister. “That was before the end of Communism and, through a politician friend, I informed the PM, Mrs Thatcher. I noticed that the man, a junior minister, was quietly dropped later in a reshuffle.”
Elm Guest House would have been well known to Margaret Thatcher, having been raided by 60 police and then covered up by the DPP and the Attorney General, who stopped the press from reporting on it. It is thought that at least 7 Conservative MPs were visitors to the paedophile brothel. Were any of these MPs later promoted to ministerial positions?
Ted Heath is credited with introducing the dirt book:
The most significant changes in the role of the whips appear to have taken place during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Heath as chief whip from 1956 to 1959 brought a new professionalism to the job; he was the first holder of that position to routinely attend cabinet meetings,although neither he nor his successors have been full cabinet members. More significant was the way he systematically gathered information about every member of the party, and developed the art of using this to maximum advantage. He was after all responsible for piloting the Conservative party through the Suez crisis and its turbulent aftermath. When Edward Short became Wilson’s chief whip in 1964 he found that it ‘had been the practice to keep a “dirt book” in which unsavoury personal items about members were recorded’, and he immediately ordered this to be discontinued. It is probable that such stories arose simply out of the thoroughness with which Heath and his successors had gathered information. Heath himself explained his professionalism: ‘I acted on the principle that the more you know about the people you ae speaking for, and the more they know about you and what you are being asked to do, the better.’ (extract from ‘Churchill to Major: The British Prime Ministership Since 1945’ by
So the chief whip would proactively look for ‘dirt’ on MPs, not just wait for them to get into trouble. This might explain how the child abuse campaigner Geoffrey Dickens MP was so quickly exposed for having an extra-marital affair after he named the paedophile diplomat Sir Peter Hayman.
Although the Labour chief whip, Edward Short, claims to have discontinued the dirt book system, it seems obvious that both Labour and the Liberals would have continued to use it. The Liberal MP Cyril Smith would have needed his own book given his record of child sex offences stretching from the 1960s to the late 1990s, which makes it all the more staggering that former Liberal leader David Steel claims never to have received a complaint about him. Smith, as an Elm Guest House visitor, a friend of Jimmy Savile, and an associate of both Peter Righton and Sidney Cooke, would have been impossible for the chief whip to control, as he would have been able to bring most of Westminster down with him.
Fleet Street also have their own version of the dirt book, used to exercise control over politicians. What other explanation could there be for the Sunday Times/News International not using the leaked Operation Ore list, despite there being enough VIP paedophiles on the list “to fill newspaper front pages for an entire year”?