OPERATION TRAWLER & OPERATION MIDDLETON
BLAIR MINISTERS & THE LAMBETH CARE HOME SCANDAL
In 1998 a London detective, Clive Driscoll, was unexpectedly pulled off an investigation in to the abuse of children in Lambeth care homes following Tony Blair’s government receiving a brief that one name connected was a serving government minister. Clive has both written and spoken out about this matter, yet despite the press naming names, nobody seems to be held accountable.
iiCSA are looking in to the Lambeth element of child abuse and I expect to see a number of former Labour ministers being questioned as part of it. If they aren’t then Lambeth continues to be covered up.
The Lambeth abuse is a tangled web so this is a rather long blog post. I will set up a separate page to upload any newspaper articles concerning this and many more links also.
Clive served for almost 35 years in the Metropolitan Police. He is your archetypal old-style policeman who had worked his way up in the ranks until he reached Detective Chief Inspector. He commands a lot of respect with most people. It was Clive who eventually managed to obtain convictions in the Stephen Lawrence murder case.
OPERATION TRAWLER: JULY-NOVEMBER 1998
Following an 18 month investigation by Nick Hopkins of Newsnight, Clive spoke to BBC Newsnight. He explained how, in 1998, he was assigned the investigation in to claims of a possible paedophile ring operating within Lambeth care homes after police in Liverpool arrested a man named John Michael Carroll who had been accused of offences in Liverpool and Lambeth. Clive was to oversee the London element of the inquiry, named Operation Trawler, the objectives of which included:
- To try and establish if there is excessive paedophile activity in Lambeth and if so what, if anything, we can do about it;
- To check whether or not the paedophile activity that is known about has been properly investigated and followed through;
- To determine whether or not there is evidence that any of this activity has infiltrated the department’s staff or management structures. If individual staff (past or present, and at any point in the hierarchy) are believed to be a risk, to ensure that appropriate and thorough investigations are carried out including referral to the police;
- If, as part of these investigation, staff of other departments or agencies are highlighted as being a risk, to bring that information formally to the attention of the most senior manager of that organisation;
- To ascertain whether or not in the past poor management of investigations within Lambeth had led to the belief that there have been issues which have been covered up, if evidence is available that there has been poor management practice, what can be done about this?
- To gain sufficient factual information to be able to refute myths and fantasies which may have been based on incorrect information.
MICHAEL JOHN CARROLL
Carroll joined Lambeth Council as a social worker in 1978 and became a member of the Lambeth Project – a sub committee of the Association of Combined Youth Clubs (ACYC) – which it is believed began on 4th October 1980. The Lambeth Project was set up to provide facilities for disadvantaged children in Lambeth and Carroll eventually became a member of the management committee of ACYC between 1983 and 1985.
In 1981 he became offiicer in charge of Angell Road care home and despite knowing about a previous conviction against him for child abuse (see Paul Boateng – part 2), it wasn’t until 1990 when auditors assessed the accounts at Angell Road, that it was discovered he had used money to buy cigarettes and alcohol, and he was suspended and then subsequently sacked in July 1991. He appealed the decision but later dropped it.
Around the beginning of 1997, Lewisham contacted ACYC and expressed concerns about their camps. It is believed it was the Headteacher of Crofton School. Apparently the site worker of the London Children’s Camp charity had taken early retirement due to allegations of abuse.
PAUL BOATENG – PART ONE
Carroll was said to be someone who liked to get involved with well-known people in the local community, including dignitaries, police officers* and councillors. Two witnesses in the investigation gave the name of one particular individual whom Carroll appeared to have met in this way. Newsnight spoke with both of them…
(* – see the information on Lambeth police station below)
Theresa was a social worker who had worked with Carroll at Angell Road, who said she witnessed a particular individual visit the home on up to six occasions, even speaking to him on one occasion. Theresa said:
“By the office there was a table with a visitor’s book and everyone that comes into the home has to sign the visitor’s book. I said “excuse me, can you sign the visitor’s book?”, and he signed it.”
Theresa confirmed that man was Paul Boateng. Sadly Theresa passed away just months after giving her evidence to Newsnight.
The second witness (who wished to remain anonymous) was a former youth worker from a local charity that ran annual caravan holidays for young people in care, who told Newsnight that Carroll attended the camps, with many local dignitaries visiting and/or helping out too, and one of which was Paul Boateng.
He claimed that Carroll would often state that Boateng could “open doors for him” and described Carroll as ‘someone who believed he should have been far more significant’. The witness confirms he saw Carroll with Boateng on quite a few occasions.
PAUL YAW BOATENG
Boateng was initially a barrister before becoming a member of the GLC and then an MP for Brent South from 1987-2005. It was under Tony Blair that Boateng secured a number of key appointments in the cabinet and in October 1998, he became Minister for Home Affairs. In 2003 he played a lead role in the ‘Every Child Matters‘ government policy paper.
In 2005 Blair announced that Boateng would become High Commissioner to South Africa despite having no experience in the diplomatic service, yet he continued until 2009 when the family left South Africa under a cloud when it was reported that the Foreign Office were investigating claims that his wife, Janet, had bullied domestic staff.
In 2009 Boateng became a director of Aegis Defence Services, whose chairman is the Conservative MP and former equerry to Prince Charles, Nicholas Soames (the wardrobe with a key in the door), and who, in 2005, was described by a group of female MPs as a ‘serial sex pest‘.
In the 2010 Dissolution Honours, Blair appointed him Baron Boateng of Akyem and Wembley and he became a member of the House of Lords. His position supported by Lord Ouseley and Lord Greville Janner, who is being investigated himself by iiCSA following numerous allegations of the abuse of 30 children in care in Leicester. Boateng’s maiden speech to the house was on the subject of disadvantaged children. I understand that Boateng would be asked to give evidence to iiCSA. I don’t know if that has yet happened, or still applies.
Boateng’s wife, Janet, was a councillor at Lambeth Council – serving on the social services committee.
Boateng’s son, Benjamin, is no stranger to trouble. In 2006 he was investigated by the police in South Africa after being accused of raping a girl on a beach on New Year’s Eve, and following the family’s return to the UK, was jailed in 2011 for sexually assaulting a young woman in a London West End club. He apparently smiled for his police photograph upon his arrest.
Janet Boateng was a member of the World Council of Churches, which involved flying overseas on ‘fact finding missions’, as well as becoming a founder member of the Parliamentary Partners Support Group in 1997 when Labour were voted into power at Westminster. Before this Boateng had been a councillor at Lambeth for 20 years from 1974 to 1994. She served on the social services committee which had direct responsibility for the running of children’s homes in the borough.
In 1984 she set up an inquiry following the death of little Tyra Henry at the hands of her father despite being under the gaze of Lambeth social workers. Subsequent allegations of racism and of there being a ‘poisonous atmosphere’ in the social services department were made by social workers. A vote of ‘no confidence’ was passed in Janet Boateng and the vice chairman of social services, John Bubb. Whilst she claimed that social workers lost sight of Tyra in the month before her death, social workers complained of being abused and humiliated by Boateng and other councillors. A strike by social workers ensued, which finally ended after Ted Knight, then leader of Lambeth Council, became involved.
Boateng would have been in her councillor position during the years Carroll was working at Angell Road, and when he was approved to adopt (1986) and foster children (1988), as well as his dismissal in 1991.
Has Mrs Boateng been asked to give evidence to iiCSA?
LAMBETH POLICE SEX CHAMBER
In 1997, the Mirror reported that a ‘sex dungeon’ had been discovered at Lambeth High Security police headquarters. Among the finds were a huge amount of images of child sexual abuse, manacles, chains, bedding and a red light. Civilian staff leaked the story and were suspended and officers from Scotland Yard were then brought in to investigate.
There is, of course, the element of Bulic Forsythe’s murder which has never been solved, but I will cover in a future post, as it is believed to be linked to child abuse within Lambeth.
PAUL BOATENG – PART TWO
According to a report in the South London Press, in 1986 Carroll applied to Croydon Council to become eligible to adopt children. Undertaking a standard police check, Croydon discovered Carroll had been convicted of abusing a 13 year old boy in a care home in 1966 and immediately alerted Lambeth Council in 1986. Lambeth allowed him to remain in his post at Angell Road, only placing him on a disciplinary charge of gross misconduct… for failing to disclose a court conviction.
In 1988 Carroll applied to Lambeth to foster two boys. Lambeth approved the application but it required seconding by neighbouring borough of Southwark. Southwark Council refused after discovering Carroll’s previous conviction and this instigated a disagreement between the two councils with Southwark incredulous that Lambeth knew about his conviction yet hadn’t sacked him.
The official who took the decision to block the foster application received a telephone call just days later from a man claiming to be Paul Boateng, who asked if there was anything he could do to help resolve the dispute around Carroll’s application. The offer was refused.
Clive made the decision that he should speak with Boateng in the hope he could shed light on Carroll’s activities. It was then he was removed from the investigation and suspended pending a disciplinary investigation.
Newsnight interviewed the former Assistant Director of Social Services in Lambeth, who knew of Clive’s wishes to speak with Boateng. His name was Nigel Goldie, who claimed that Clive had raised his plans to speak with Boateng with too many people.
Commander Richard Gargini
Goldie claimed that Gargini contacted him and told him to forget about Clive and his leads, that the investigation was going to be closed and nothing more would be done about it and requested Goldie did not discuss it further with anyone else. Clive had never told Gargini that he wished to speak with Boateng.
Secret Internal Scotland Yard Report
A secret report stated that Clive committed ‘serious indiscretions’ as well as:
‘political sensitivies that resulted in Clive Driscoll’s removal from Lambeth Child Protection team.’
All proceedings against Clive were eventually dropped, and he went on to secure convictions in the Stephen Lawrence murder case. However, the way he remembers his removal is different to what we’ve heard…
IN PURSUIT OF THE TRUTH
In 2015 Clive released a book entitled In Pursuit of the Truth (ISBN: 9781785030062) in which he recounts the following encounter:
The way Clive was removed went far beyond any ‘indiscretions’. It involved politics getting in the way of front-line policing.
Just what WAS Jack Straw doing at Brixton Police Station?
Have Jack Straw and Simon Foy been asked to give evidence to iiCSA?
If you haven’t read Clive’s book, I urge you to do so, particularly if you have an interest in London and child sexual abuse cover ups. It makes compelling reading, although I should issue a trigger warning too – Clive pulls no punches.
OPERATION MIDDLETON: 1998-2003
Clive’s documents were handed over to Gargini, which included a list of names that the police needed to contact to pursue the investigation further and Gargini was asked to oversee a new, larger investigation into Lambeth named Operation Middleton. This operation also employed a number of social workers which was entitled the Child Abuse in Lambeth Team (CHILE).
For unknown reasons, the new investigation did not pick up where Trawler had left off and Carroll was no longer the sole focus of the inquiry. Instead, the operation involved investigating allegations of abuse across all Lambeth children’s homes, going back 20 years. However, neither Theresa Johnson, the youth worker nor the social worker who received a call from Boateng heard from the police again.
Officers who worked on Operation Middleton told Newsnight that they were unaware of the information Clive had originally compiled.
PAUL BOATENG – PART THREE
Social workers on the CHILE team discovered that Boateng and his wife, Janet, had visited Angell Road during the eighties when Carroll was still in charge and Janet was a councillor. The social workers recognised the sensitivities concerning their discovery and passed the information to detectives on Operation Middleton. They were told that the issue was discussed at the highest levels of both the police and Home Office.
Would that have involved the Home Affairs Select Committee?
When Newsnight approached Gargini he stated that he couldn’t clarify events as he was retired and therefore unable to access the documents.
This concluded on 31st July 2003. Despite there being at least 40 suspects identified, only a handful of convictions were successfully secured. A review is being overseen by the IPCC.
Lambeth was looked at as part of the iiCSA in March 2016 and the preliminary hearing transcript can be read here. The Shirley Oaks Survivors Association decided to withdraw from participating with the inquiry in late 2016.
Boateng told Newsnight that ‘he only became aware of Carroll when he was arrested in the late 1990s’. In a statement, he said:
As a campaigning youth justice lawyer in the 1970s and 1980s, I acted fr many young people in care, met many of their social workers and visited many youth facilities in the course of my work.
I did not know Mr Carroll personally and have no recollection of meeting him professionally or of visiting the Angell Road children’s home or anywhere else he was present.
Although he remembers the ACYC charity, he has no recollection of the holidays and denied having made a call to a Southwark official.
Naturally, I would be appalled if Mr Carroll was not properly investigated and children were harmed as a result. I am unaware as to how the investigation into Mr Carroll was conducted and I knew nothing at all about the matters under investigation.
I therefore cannot comment on why the police did not seek my assistance in connection with this matter. I would of course have been happy to assist.
In 1999, Carroll pleaded guilty to the abuse of 35 boys during the 1970s and 1980s and was sentenced to 10 years in jail. According to Newsnight, he now lives in the Midlands.
- Lambeth’s dumped documents: July 2017
- Lambeth Council: 2016
- Evening Standard: Children abused ‘on an industrial scale’ in Lambeth: 2016
- Ian Pace Blog
- The Telegraph: March 2011 – Night Stalker police ‘sorry’ for mistakes
- The Guardian: December 2016 – Lambeth Council to pay tens of millions to survivors
- The Mirror: March 2013 – Paedophile MP cover up claim
- Cathy Fox Blog