The key historical child abuse investigations

By Judith Duffy
Herald Scotland
August 09, 2015

Police operations:

*Operation Fairbank: Umbrella inquiry

In 2012, Labour MP used parliamentary privilege to raise allegations that a paedophile network existed “linked to Parliament and No 10” and called for the Metropolitan Police to examine the issue. This helped lead to the setting up of Operation Fairbank in the same year, which is the Metropolitan police’s umbrella inquiry into child sex abuse claims involving high-profile political figures. It has established a number of criminal investigations.

Cost: £720,000 (as of March 2014)

*Operation Fernbridge: Grafton Close Children’s Home/Elm Guest House, London. Now closed.

A criminal investigation launched in February 2013 to examine allegations of abuse arising from Operation Fernbridge. It focused on abuse allegedly carried out at Grafton Close children’s home and Elm Guest House, both in London. Two men were charged in connection with Grafton House. One was was found dead at his home before the trial began. In March, Catholic priest Father Anthony McSweeney, 68, was found guilty of abusing a teenage boy and jailed for three years.

*Operation Athabasca: Elm Guest House, London

This investigation took over from Operation Fernbridge after McSweeney was sentenced in March to investigate allegations of a ‘VIP’ paedophile network centred on Elm Guest House in 1970s and early 1980s. Cyril Smith, the late Liberal MP who was exposed as an alleged paedophile in 2012, is known to have visited the premises.

In April, Richard Kerr, who suffered abuse at Kincora Children’s home in Belfast, said he was one of three youngsters taken from the home to London in the 1970s, where they were allegedly molested by politicians and other high-profile figures at Elm Guest House and Dolphin Square.

*Operation Midland: Dolphin Square, London

This was established in November 2014 to examine claims of systematic child abuse by a VIP Westminster paedophile ring during the 1980s and investigate claims three boys were murdered. It centres around Dolphin Square, an apartment block in London where many MPs lived. Among those who have been accused of being involved in the paedophile ring include former home secretary Leon Brittan, who died in January. Scotland Yard is also thought to be investigating claims against former Prime Minister Edward Heath as part of Operation Midland.

*Operation Cayacos

Set up to investigate allegations of a paedophile ring linked to convicted paedophile Peter Righton – a founding member of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), which campaigned for sex between children and adults to be legalised in the 1970s and 1980s. In 2012, it was claimed that files on Righton contained intelligence on a “widespread paedophile ring” in the 1970s and 1980s involving politicians.

Last December as a result of this investigation former teacher Charles Napier – a former treasurer of PIE - was jailed for 13 years for hundreds of sexual assaults on boys at the school where he worked in the late 1960s and1970s.

*Operation Jaguar

In January 2013, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) took overall command of the investigation into allegations of sexual abuse made against the late Cyril Smith. It found on three occasions files were passed to prosecutors containing details of abuse committed by Smith, but each time no prosecution was pursued. The force said if the same evidence was presented today there would have been a “very realistic prospect” that Smith would have been charged with a number of indecent assaults.

GMP is also looking at allegations it failed to adequately investigate an involving incident involving Cyril Smith as part of Operation Clifton – a criminal investigation launched in July 2014 looking at how previous reports of child sexual abuse were handled or allegedly covered up.

*Operation Pallial, North Wales:

Launched in 2012, this operation led by the National Crime Agency is examining alleged abuse at 28 care homes in North Wales. In June this year three men arrested as part of Operation Pallial were found guilty of historical sexual offences against children carried out in the 1980s.

Cost: £774,000 (as of March 2014)

*Operation Garford, Suffolk

This investigation relates to historic abuse allegations centred on Kesgrave Hall School, Suffolk in the 1980s and 1990s. In April this year a 69-year-old man was charged with 16 sexual assaults against three children at schools in Torrington and Suffolk.

Cost: £17,140 (as of April 2015)

*Operation Whistle, Jersey

A dedicated team of six investigators has been launched by the States of Jersey police following an increase in the reporting of historic cases of abuse in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal and the setting up of the Jersery Care inquiry. Allegations so far have resulted in investigations involving 45 suspects, four institutions and 13 people of “public prominence”.

*Operation Hibiscus:

This investigation was instigated in February 2014 after a broadcast of a regional TV news programme prompted 35 people to come forward with reports of historic sexual abuse by former Scarborough mayor Peter Jaconelli, who was born in Glasgow, and Jimmy Savile, who had a home in the seaside resort. Last December North Yorkshire Police revealed that sufficient evidence had been found to suggest that had the men been alive today, they would both have been likely to have faced criminal charges.

*Edward Heath

Seven police forces are investigating child sex claims against former prime minister Sir Edward Heath, it emerged last week. The forces involved are Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Kent, Jersey, Hampshire and the Metropolitan Police. North Yorkshire Police also said it was reviewing records “to assess if there is any information or intelligence” held in relation to Heath after a photograph emerged of Heath, who died in 2005, meeting former mayor of Scarborough and suspected paedophile Peter Jaconelli.

*Operation Enamel

This was established in January 2013 by Leicestershire Police to examine allegations against Lord Greville Janner of sexual abuse. An initial decision by the director of public prosecutions not to charge Janner, who has dementia, was branded “wholly perverse” by assistant chief constable Roger Bannister, who oversaw the investigation. The decision was overturned after an appeal by the alleged victims. Last Friday it was ruled Janner, who denies allegations of abuse, must appear in court in person for a hearing over the child sex abuse charges.

*Operation Yewtree

This investigation was set up by the Metropolitan Police after it emerged TV presenter Jimmy Savile was a prolific sex offender, who sexually assaulted children and young people across six decades. It resulted in a number of convictions of other high-profile figures, including singer Gary Glitter, DJ Dave Lee Travis, publicist Max Clifford and entertainer Rolf Harris.

Cost: £3.75million

Jimmy Savile:

*Savile NHS inquiry

A series of reports into abuse carried out by Savile within the NHS found the late DJ subjected patients, visitors and staff in 28 hospitals to sexual abuse between 1962 and 2009, with the victims aged between five and 75.

Cost: £7.3million

*Savile BBC inquiry

This investigation, chaired by Dame Janet Smith, is reviewing the culture and practices of the BBC and how Savile was able to carry out abuse of children. The report is finished and was expected to be published in May 2015, but it has been delayed while police investigations are ongoing into sexual abuse. A BBC spokeswoman said the costs would be published once the review is complete.

*Savile education inquiry

A report commissioned by the UK Department of Education to look at possible abuse carried out by Savile during visits to schools and children’s homes from the 1960s to the 1980s. The report, headed by human rights lawyer Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, was published in February this year but was unable to reach any “firm conclusions” about whether alleged abuse took place or not.

Cost: £285,000


*Goddard inquiry:

An independent inquiry, headed by New Zealand judge Lowell Goddard, is to investigate the way public bodies and other non-state institutions in England and Wales have handled sex abuse claims. The first hearings with victims and survivors of child sexual abuse are expected to take place in October this year.

Cost: £17.9million budget

*Scotland inquiry:

In December 2014, the Scottish Government announced the setting up of a statutory public inquiry into the historical abuse of children in care. It will be chaired by Susan O’Brien QC and is expected to begin in October this year, with the remit including allegations of abuse in foster care, long-term hospital care and in boarding schools, as well as care institutions. A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said the cost of the inquiry cannot yet be determined as the chair has still to determine the full scope of the investigation.

*Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland):

This inquiry chaired by Sir Anthony Hart is due to report in January 2017 and was set up to examine if there were systematic failings by state institutions in their duties towards children in their care between 1922 and 1995. It is currently investigating 13 institutions in relation to allegations of historical abuse or neglect. It includes Kincora Boy’s Home in Belfast, which was the scene of organised sexual abuse and has been linked to the Westminster paedophile ring.

Cost: £15million (estimated)

*Independent Jersey Care Inquiry

This inquiry is investigating historical abuse claims in Jersey’s care system from 1960 to present day. One of the main focuses is the Haut de la Garenne children’s care home during the 1960s, which was at the centre of a huge historic child abuse investigation in 2008.

Cost: £20 million allocated so far

Other investigations:

*Independent Police Complaints Commission

Police watchdog the IPCC is investigating alleged corruption in the Metropolitan Police, including claims it covered up child sex offences because MPs and police officers were involved. The allegations, which arose from Operation Fairbank, span four decades.

Last week the IPCC announced it is also to investigate allegations Wiltshire Police failed to purse allegations of child abuse made against former prime minister Edward Health in the 1990s.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.