Leon Brittan and the 1984 “Cabinet Minister Scandal”

The ‘Cabinet Minister scandal’ ran for exactly one week at the height of the Miners Strike, 21st June-28th June 1984. It started with a denial in The Times, and ended with libel threats and an MP being gagged by the Speaker of the House of Commons. It was never mentioned again in British newspapers.

If the Thatcher government believed the ‘MI5 smear’ story, then why wasn’t there an inquiry into MI5’s alleged role in the scandal?

The way the Thatcher government dealt with the scandal was similar to the way the Elm Guest House scandal was suppressed in August 1982. That story made the headlines for 10 days before the Attorney General joined forces with Elm Guest House’s lawyers to threaten libel action against any newspapers that dared to print further allegations. Elm Guest House: The History of a Cover-Up.

The Times, 21st June 1984

1394001541192Morning Star, 21st June 1984

MStar210684Daily Express, 22nd June 1984

Exp220684Irish Times, 22nd June 1984

_20140305_151150Morning Star, 22nd June 1984

MStar220684Sydney Morning Herald, 22nd June 1984
‘Sex scandal rumour hits Downing Street’

LONDON, Thursday: The threat of another sex scandal shaking the British Government has spurred the Prime Minister’s office to issue a firm denial of any ministerial impropriety.

Downing Street this morning told AAP that writs for libel would be issued against any newspaper or broadcasting body that identified the minister around whom rumours have been circulating for some time.

Government officers described the stories as “assassination by gossip”.

The Communist Morning Star today reported “a child sex scandal involving a Government minister” might be about to break.

A Guardian columnist disclosed that another newspaper was investigating “a sensational Whitehall sex scandal”, but gave no details.

The Observer also teased with the mention of “scandal, or rumours of scandal” when offering a number of reasons for a lift on political temperatures.

The Times political correspondent today said rumours involving a Cabinet minister had been circulating since last November and had been revived with an investigation by The Mail on Sunday.

The correspondent, Anthony Bevins, says the Commons tearoom – the hub of Westminster gossip – has been told the story will going to “break” this weekend.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the minister concerned has denied the rumours and said he would take legal action if identified in connection with them.

“Because the minister mentioned is of Cabinet rank, it can be taken that the security services have investigated the rumours,” reported James Wightman, political correspondent of the Telegraph.

“It can also be taken that the minister has seen the Prime Minister about the matter. Mrs Thatcher has clearly given him an expression of her unqualified confidence.”

The Conservative Party Government was shaken soon after its landslide re-election last year when it was learned that the party chairman, Mr Cecil Parkinson, and his secretary, Miss Sara Keays, were expecting a child.

Mr Parkinson, a personal friend of Mrs Thatcher, resigned from the Cabinet and is now undergoing a “rehabilitation period” on the back bench.

The sex scandal rumours come at a time when Mrs Thatcher’s Government is under fire over the increasingly violent miners’ strike, which has been running for 102 days. The Queen has made known her concern.

Chicago Tribune, 22nd June 1984

‘British newspaper report another sex scandal afoot’

LONDON – Two British newspapers reported Thursday that yet another scandal involving a Cabinet minister is about to surface. But government officials angrily denied the reports and threatened libel action against anyone naming the minister allegedly involved.

The latest reports, one of them suggesting that a minister has been involved in sexual misconduct with children, emerged eight months after Industry Minister Cecil Parkinson was forced to resign when it was disclosed that his mistress was to give birth to his child.

Rumors that another minister in the government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was about to be involved in scandal have circulated in political and journalistic circles for the last 10 days.

The basis of these rumors is unclear, as there is nothing to suggest that a complaint has been made to police. The first published references to the matter appeared Thursday in the Times and the communist newspaper Morning Star.

The Times did not mention sex but said rumors of a scandal involving a minister date to last November and have been revived by an investigation being conducted by the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

It said the word is circulating in the House of Commons tea room, the hub of Westminster gossip, that the story will break this weekend. Stuart Steven, editor of the Mail on Sunday, declined to comment.

The Morning Star said, “Premier Thatcher has been made aware that allegations are freely circulating that the minister had unlawful sexual intercourse with children.”

A government official angrily denounced the reports as “rumor-mongering without the slightest shred or tissue of evidence.”

Other sources said the government is not prepared to tolerate trial by newspapers and if the minister is named, libel writs will be issued immediately.

The Daily Telegraph, in a follow-up to the Times and Morning Star reports, said Thatcher had been “aware in advance of the denial and the threatened legal action.”

It said the minister who was the subject of the reports had been to see her and sho “has clearly given him an expression of her unqualified confidence.”

Because the man is of Cabinet rank, the Telegraph said, “it can be taken that the rumors have been investigated by the security services.”

Opposition politicians refrained from raising the matter during the prime minister’s question time Thursday in Commons. This is a twice-weekly period in which the prime minister answers questions put to her by members.

Morning Star, 23rd June 1984

MStar230684Morning Star, 23rd June 1984

MStar230684bThe Globe and Mail (Canada), 23rd June 1984

‘Rumors in Westminster of child-sex scandal prompt PM to step in’

By Vera Frankl

LONDON – Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has stepped in to quell
widespread rumors that her Government is in the grip of another major sex
scandal only months after her most trusted lieutenant, Trade and Industry
Secretary Cecil Parkinson, was obliged to resign when his mistress
announced that she was going to have his child.

Rumors circulating in Westminster involve much more serious
allegations. They suggest that a senior Cabinet minister is a child-sex
offender. If they are substantiated, the minister will have to do more
than step down. He – and the Government – will be faced with the prospect
of a full-scale trial.

Members of Parliament and Whitehall officials have known of the gossip
for several months. National newspapers have been feverishly investigating
it. But the first the public heard of it was a report carried this week in
that pillar of the Establishment, The Times. The story was brief,
contained a Government denial and was careful to name no names.

Mrs. Thatcher, who has been aware of the alleged scandal for some time,
is said to be satisfied that it is quite untrue. Her Downing Street office
has so far restricted itself to a single terse statement on the subject:
“We are not in the business of commenting on rumor.”
Top Whitehall sources have been more forthcoming. They have condemned
the rumors as “assassination by gossip” and said the Prime Minister would
not tolerate a highly respected member of her Government being subjected
to trial by the press. MPs have been warned against trying to name the
minister under cover of parliamentary privilege.

Newspaper editors have been told that publishing the minister’s name
without cast-iron proof would land them with a multi-million-dollar

Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens, a leading anti-child-sex campaigner, who
three years ago named the former high commissioner to Canada, Sir Peter
Hayman, as having links with pedophile groups, has admitted he is under
pressure to name the minister in the House of Commons. But he does not
intend to do so: “This man’s political future may be at stake. I also have
to guard against the possibility that a dirty tricks department may be at
But Fleet Street journalists investigating the story believe there is
more to it than that. As one of them remarked yesterday: “If we were just
talking about a one-off incident – if all the newspapers had the same
story – it would look like a setup. But there appear to be so many
different instances that the rumors can no longer be dismissed out of
The British public may not have to wait much longer to discover whether
the scandal is fact or fiction. One national newspaper is said to have got
its hands on an incriminating dossier and there is speculation it is
preparing to name the minister in the next few days.

Sydney Morning Herald, 24th June 1984
‘Minister accused’

LONDON: A Thatcher Government Cabinet minister may have committed sex acts with boys at least twice, Britain’s Morning Star newspaper claims. The Communist daily kept the sex scandal rumours alive by claiming reports indicating the first offence by an unnamed minister occurred before he was a minister. But the second was said to have been more recent and involved a boy at school. Downing Street is continuing to dismiss the rumours as “ridiculous”.

The Morning Star said Whitehall had made urgent approaches to officials asking them not to mention the name of the minister.

Morning Star, 26th June 1984

MStar260684Private Eye, 26th June 1984

brittaneyeThe Guardian, 27th June 1984

_20140305_170859Morning Star, 27th June 1984

MStar270684Irish Times, 27th June 1984

_20140305_145922Daily Express, 27th June 1984

Exp270684aThe Guardian, 28th June 1984

cohen1 cohen2

  1. Reblogged this on Desiring Progress and commented:
    This is a vital collection of clippings from the time when an alleged cabinet ministerial scandal, involving child abuse, made it into the press for a short period.

  2. Troyhand said:

    Daily Mail – 19 April 2014
    Was [Carole Kasir] murdered to cover up Cyril Smith’s sex ring? After a week of devastating revelations, this may be the most devastating question yet

    *Carole Kasir ran a gay-friendly guesthouse in London during the 1970s and 1980s
    *VIP clients of the facility included Cyril Smith as well as MI5 officers and spy Anthony Blunt
    *Child welfare campaigners believed that children were abused in the guesthouse
    *Kasir kept logbooks and photographs of her VIP clients
    *Her body was found by several vials of insulin and an inquest determined suicide
    *But a new book claims that she may have been murdered to protect Cyril Smith

    We found him living in a shabby block of flats of the kind you don’t imagine exists in the genteel Thames-side suburb of Teddington.

    Noel Coward was born a couple of streets away, but the tattooed man in a grubby vest did not belong to the same world as the composer of Mad Dogs And Englishmen.

    David Issett was the epitome of a washed-up pub bruiser. Under a wrinkled dome covered with crew-cut white hair, his eyes were both calculating and evasive. What the f*** did we want, going around asking questions about him and his family, he asked?

    What we wanted, in fact, was to hear what the unpleasant Issett could tell us about his former lover, a woman called Carole Kasir, and the notorious gay brothel which she once ran in nearby Barnes.

    And the reason? Over the past week, the Mail has serialised Labour MP Simon Danczuk’s chilling new book about the late Liberal politician Sir Cyril Smith. The book revealed Smith’s genuinely horrifying, decades-long reign of terror and sexual abuse involving scores of young, vulnerable boys — as well as the Establishment cover-up that kept his crimes hidden, which included the police, politicians and even MI5.

    One of the revelations in the Danczuk book concerns Smith’s secret patronage of Elm Guest House. This was the business run in the late Seventies and early Eighties by David Issett’s friend Carole Kasir and her husband Haroon, in an elegant terrace property on Rock’s Lane, overlooking Barnes Common.

    The guest house was advertised in the gay press of the time as a place where homosexual men could meet in safety and comfort to enjoy various facilities, including a sauna and solarium. One of the publications which reviewed it favourably was the newsletter of the Conservative Group for Homosexual Equality.

    The CGHE was campaigning for the lowering of the gay age of consent to 16. One of its chairmen was Ian Harvey, a junior Foreign Office minister who was forced to quit the government in 1958 after being caught having sex with a Coldstream guardsman in a London park. To men like him, Elm Guest House offered discretion.

    But behind the guest house doors, commercial sex was also available, and there have been allegations that underage boys from at least one children’s home were made available there to paedophiles.

    For several years, a list of alleged ‘VIP’ customers of the guest house has been circulated by child welfare campaigners. Among the names are a number of senior MPs, a high-ranking policeman, a leading tycoon, figures from the National Front and Sinn Fein, an official of the Royal Household, an MI5 officer, two pop stars and the traitorous Soviet spy Anthony Blunt.

    It is unlikely if we shall ever know for sure how many of these men even went near Rock’s Lane. But certainly one of those identified on the list was Sir Cyril Smith.

    In his sparse living room, with the television blaring, David Issett also volunteered the politician’s name — as well as a claim which goes to the heart of another, potentially even more sinister, story of sex and Establishment cover-up.

    ‘Carole said she had a load of photographs of famous people doing stuff at the gay guest house,’ said Issett. ‘The name I remember is that of the fat man, Cyril Smith.

    ‘She said she kept them [the photos] in a strong box at the Royal Bank of Scotland branch in Richmond. She was once offered £20,000 for them, but she thought they were worth much more.’

    What other public figures allegedly appeared in these photographs? We understand that detectives from Operation Fernbridge, which has been investigating allegations of child sex abuse, some of which are linked to Elm Guest House, ‘strongly believe’ that another politician — who subsequently rose to become a Cabinet minister — had abused an underage boy at Rock’s Lane.

    His alleged victim, who is now an adult and lives abroad, initially indicated that he would give a statement to police, only to change his mind later.

    Although the police obtained independent evidence of the specific abuse, it wasn’t enough to execute an arrest.

    But what of the woman who appears to have been in possession of the darkest sexual secrets of so many powerful men? Carole Kasir cannot help us now, because she was found dead 24 years ago.

    As we shall see, a number of people are convinced she was murdered for what she knew. The activities at Elm Guest House came to a head in the spring of 1982 when, following a surveillance operation, police raided the property. The operation itself had an element of farce, as the Old Bailey later heard.

    Two policemen were ‘undercover’ inside the guest house, one wearing a radio transmitter inside a fake plaster cast on his arm, which would be used to signal for the start of the raid. This was activated prematurely so that their colleagues only found seven customers instead of the dozens expected.

    German-born Carole Kasir and her Indian husband Haroon were both arrested. A 17-year-old youth — then under the legal age of homosexual consent — who worked as a masseur on the site, was also detained but later released without charge.

    He told Simon Danczuk that the 29st Cyril Smith was known at the guest house as ‘Tubby’, and had once got wedged fast in a bath. We understand that the former teenage masseur recently gave Operation Fernbridge police a statement in which he said he had ‘massaged’ Smith at least twice, worried that the massage table would collapse under his grotesque weight.

    In May 1983, the Kasirs were convicted of keeping a disorderly house and having obscene videos, and were each fined and given suspended jail sentences. Interestingly, no charges relating to alleged paedophile offences were brought.

    Some believe that the raid was launched to protect the powerful rather than the innocent boys who were allegedly abused at the house.

    Chris Fay, a social worker who headed a child welfare charity, later claimed that the officers leading the raid were Special Branch — which worked alongside MI5 — rather than local officers.

    ‘Carole Kasir had logbooks, names, times, dates, even pictures of people who went in and out of Elm Guest House,’ he said. He has also claimed that she spoke to him about her stash of compromising VIP photographs.

    Fay added that after the raid ‘[Carole Kasir] was held without charge for three days, and you don’t do that on a run-of the-mill vice raid. There was more to it than that.’

    Whatever the truth behind the raid, it saw the end of the Elm Guest House. From then on, Carole Kasir’s life went downhill rapidly. Already a diabetic, she began drinking heavily, and that is how she came to meet David Issett, or so he claimed to us.

    They met in a pub in Barnes one day as Carole sat at the bar. She told him he had ‘lovely eyes’ — one of the least credible claims in this story — and before long he had moved into her flat in nearby Carmichael Road.

    She was estranged from her husband by then, said Issett, who says he was working at the time for a local man, a property owner known as ‘Patsy’ Puddles.

    On Sunday morning, June 17, 1990, Carole Kasir, then 47, was found by a friend, in bed at the Carmichael Road flat. She was dead, with ‘numerous injections and phials of insulin’ lying about her. Two notes, addressed to Issett and indicating suicide, were discovered in the property.

    A sad but predictable end to a squalid life, it seemed. But her inquest that August was to prove sensational.

    A number of campaigners, including Chris Fay and a colleague of his called Mary Moss, were in attendance and brought up the allegations of organised child sex abuse at Elm Guest House.

    Famous people were named by some of those campaigners attending the inquest — leading to stories in the Press linking an unidentified senior politician to a sex ring. It was also alleged during the hearing that before her death Kasir had been living in fear and felt she was being watched.

    The local property owner ‘Patsy’ Puddles was identified at the inquest as one of those who had allegedly threatened her. His name had also appeared with Cyril Smith on the ‘VIP’ list of alleged customers at Elm House.

    The coroner decided that the ‘conspiracy allegations threw doubt on the accuracy of the suicide notes’, and adjourned the inquest for further investigations.

    Could Carole Kasir have been murdered?

    In terms of the mechanics of her death, while an insulin overdose has been used as a means of suicide by diabetics (it causes a fatal drop in blood sugar), the administration of a lethal overdose by another person would be relatively easy in the case of an alcoholic diabetic in poor health such as Carole Kasir.

    Certainly the coroner was concerned about the circumstances surrounding her death.

    David Issett, who says he had split with Kasir some time before she died, admitted to us that he had been forced to attend as a witness when the inquest reconvened for a second hearing, ‘on pain of arrest’.

    But neither he nor any others were able to throw any more light on the conspiracy allegations, and the coroner recorded a verdict of ‘suicide’, with the cause of death being an insulin overdose.

    There the matter would have rested, but for tireless if not sometimes controversial campaigning by the likes of Chris Fay and Mary Moss.

    The latter has said she believes Carole Kasir to have been murdered to shut her up about the famous people who visited Rock’s Lane. But then she also said she believed that Kasir knew nothing of the child sex abuse allegations that were connected to the guest house.

    Who or what to believe? David Issett, who denied any wrongdoing, was interviewed twice last year by Operation Fernbridge officers and, he said, gave them a statement.

    He told us: ‘They kept firing names of Carole’s friends at me to see if I knew them.’ He said his old boss ‘Patsy’ Puddles ‘might have known’ Carole, but vehemently denied Puddles would ever have been involved in child abuse. Puddles has been dead for a number of years. Issett also rubbished the suggestion that Kasir said she was being watched in the time before she died. He said her eyesight was too poor for her to have noticed.

    And yet when we visited the address where Kasir died, a former neighbour said that the police had, in fact, set up a secret surveillance post in one of the nearby flats, albeit some time before the death. The neighbour had understood it was because police believed Kasir was dealing drugs to children.

    Police have searched for, but been unable to find, evidence of the existence of a stash of pictures of the rich and famous at Rock’s Lane.

    It remains a ‘secret’ which Carole Kasir took to her grave, but one to which the Cyril Smith revelations have now lent a great deal more credibility.

  3. Troyhand said:

    Daily Mail – 19 April 2014
    I had underage sex with police officers at guest house used by ‘VIP paedophile ring’: Astonishing allegations by masseur who worked as a 16-year-old at notorious party venue ‘used by politicians, judges and pop stars’
    By Paul Cahalan and Ian Gallagher

    •Lee Towsey told new investigation he had underage sex with officers
    •He was working as a masseur at London’s infamous Elm Guest House
    •He is the first person with first-hand knowledge of events to speak publicly
    •In an MoS interview, he also talks of a sexual encounter with Cyril Smith
    •He claims police told him to ‘keep quiet about what and who you saw’

    A former child actor has told detectives he was abused by undercover male police officers at a guest house at the centre of an alleged VIP paedophile ring.

    Lee Towsey made the astonishing claim to Scotland Yard’s Operation Fernbridge, which is investigating historic child sex abuse.

    He says it happened while he worked at the Elm Guest House in South-West London in 1982. At the time, Mr Towsey was 16, then under the age of homosexual consent.

    ‘I was naive and struggling to come to terms with my sexuality,’ he said. ‘After we had sex the officers offered me money.’

    In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, he also tells of a sexual encounter with Cyril Smith – and how he was warned by police to ‘keep quiet about what and who you saw’.

    For years, the question of what went on at the Edwardian terrace in Rocks Lane, overlooking Barnes Common, has been the subject of speculation. It was claimed politicians, judges, pop stars, a high-ranking policeman, a member of the Royal household and an MI5 officer were among the visitors. There were allegations that some VIPs preyed on boys from a nearby children’s home.

    But until today no one with any first-hand knowledge of what went on has ever spoken publicly. In bombshell testimony, Mr Towsey, who worked at Rocks Lane for five months as a masseur, claims:

    *Guest house owner Carole Kasir paid police protection money.
    *Names of high-profile guests were kept in a black book, referred to by Kasir as ‘my insurance policy’.
    *Kasir told him a Cabinet Minister was a regular visitor.
    *He only knew Cyril Smith was a politician when he recognised his Spitting Image puppet years later.

    Mr Towsey has also spoken to Labour MP Simon Danczuk, whose book about Smith revealed how he abused scores of boys. Last night Mr Danczuk said: ‘This is a significant part of the jigsaw in what is a complex cover-up. It really moves on the need for a more in-depth inquiry.’

    Mr Towsey first visited Elm Guest House in February 1982. At the time he was pursuing his dream of becoming an actor. He later appeared in Grange Hill and Doctor Who.

    ‘I went out one night with a friend and we ended up going back to where he was staying in Barnes, which was on my way home,’ said Mr Towsey. ‘It was Elm Guest House. We had a couple of drinks in the bar and that’s where I first met Carole Kasir, the owner. She was kind of hippy-ish and made quite a fuss of me.’

    She was less welcoming the following morning. ‘Carole’s demeanour changed. She said I had to pay for my night’s stay but I couldn’t afford it. She said: “You can work here as a masseur.” ’

    Carole told him that some of the visitors were prominent people. Mr Towsey said: ‘She kept their names in a black address book, which she referred to as her insurance policy.

    ‘She said one was a Cabinet Minister and there were judges and politicians. I remember Cyril Smith but I didn’t know he was a politician until I saw his puppet on Spitting Image.

    ‘Carole told me not to let him in the sauna, as he had got stuck in there before and they had to take the door off to get him out.’ He added: ‘Smith wanted me to strip naked and massage him. I was also forced to watch as he masturbated.’

    Carole came to confide in the 16-year-old, complaining how she was under pressure to contribute to Richmond police’s ‘Christmas fund’. ‘It was protection money,’ he said.

    In all, Mr Towsey slept with three people at the house. ‘They all turned out to be police,’ he said. ‘One came round in the first month. He was early 20s, good-looking, not the usual sort who went to the house.’

    Mr Towsey saw the man again some months later – at Richmond police station – after he and the Kasir were arrested in a raid. Before that, Mr Towsey claims, two other undercover officers visited the house. ‘The first came in April and I had sex with him. He turned out to be one of the officers who later raided the house.

    ‘He came back about three weeks later and hired a room. He stayed two nights and on the second night his partner stayed too. I ended up having sex with them. Afterwards they asked how much and I told them that they were not clients and felt insulted they wanted to pay me.’

    Mr Towsey continued at the house until the raid in June. He was charged with keeping a disorderly house and assisting in the management of a brothel. ‘That year was terrible,’ he said. ‘People were ringing up making death threats. I got a job in the kitchen at a bingo hall in Hounslow. My dad used to pick me up after work in his Nissan Sunny.

    ‘One day he didn’t turn up because its tyres had been let down. But he didn’t have time to let me know. Yet when I arrived at the usual spot, a Nissan Sunny was in the usual place and I got in the front.

    ‘There were three police officers inside. One of them was at the station following the raid. They told me they could pick me up at any time and told me keep my mouth shut. I never told anyone, not even my family.’

    The day he was due at the Old Bailey, the charges against him were suddenly dropped. Kasir, who died in 1990, was found guilty of keeping a disorderly house but received a fine and suspended sentence.

    Mr Towsey was contacted by detectives from Operation Fernbridge in 2012. ‘They said they were opening up the case again because of Savile. I have had a couple of calls since to say they are still investigating but they haven’t moved anything on. I am considering legal action against the Met. I shut the door on it once and I want to shut the door on it again and move on.’

    Scotland Yard declined to comment.

    MP: I may name ‘influential politician’ who visited Elm Guest House with Smith

    A Labour MP says he is considering the sensational step of publicly naming an influential politician who allegedly abused boys at Elm Guest House.

    Simon Danczuk, who exposed former Liberal MP Cyril Smith, said he would use Parliamentary privilege – giving him legal immunity – to unmask someone ‘much more important’. ‘I have used privilege before and I would consider using privilege to name the Parliamentarian,’ he said yesterday.

    Rochdale MP Mr Danczuk published a book last week detailing how Smith, who died in 2010, abused hundreds of vulnerable boys over four decades.

    Unlike Smith, the politician he is now considering naming is still sitting in Parliament.

    Calling for a new in-depth inquiry into the activities at Elm House, which closed in 1982, Mr Danczuk said: ‘There is undoubtedly a cover-up.

    ‘This isn’t just about Smith, this is a much wider network of paedophiles, people who were abusing youngsters. We have to get to the bottom of it, not least because some of these people are still alive and should face justice.

    ‘Anyone who has any more information should come forward so that we can all move on from a horrible piece of recent history.’

  4. l8in said:

    Reblogged this on L8in.

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