By Mark Watts
Extracts from MI6’s files on paedophile allegations against one of its officers and two agents can be revealed today.
As I report today, the Secret Intelligence Service, better known as MI6, has partially opened up its secret files to disclose details of four cases to the inquiry into child sexual abuse (CSA inquiry), the first of which concerned Sir Peter Hayman, the late diplomat and spy.
The quotes, shown in bold italic, replicate the styling of the MI6 submission to the inquiry:
“a. In 2006, a substantial amount of pornographic material, including indecent photographs of children, was identified on a computer used by SIS staff. The material was preserved and an internal investigation conducted to ascertain which employee(s) might be responsible. The material and details of potential suspects were then passed to a Police Child Protection Unit. An investigation followed, which confirmed that the images were illegal and identified the SIS officer most likely to be responsible for downloading them.
“b. The individual was dismissed from SIS employment and charged with two counts of possessing indecent photographs of children on their workplace computer, contrary to section 160 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. SIS handed all relevant material to the police and provided the necessary access and support to the prosecution, including making preparations for other SIS officers to give evidence at trial.
“c. Ultimately the prosecutor decided to offer no evidence against the defendant following an abuse of process application. SIS was not involved in that decision and wrote to the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] to express disappointment at the outcome.”
“d. An SIS officer – Officer B – was asked to engage with a new contact. He then learnt that SIS believed the contact was in possession of a cache of illegal images of children. When questioned, the contact had forcefully denied that the images were his, but SIS had information which undermined that denial. Officer B sought clarification on how the issue was being handled and was told of the contact’s forceful denials and that at the stage, SIS lacked the required level of evidence to instigate a police investigation. SIS had considered whether there was enough to take the issue forward, and a note was drafted to inform others of the issue, but it was not sent at that time.
“e. Officer B continued to investigate and with SIS technical support gathered further technical evidence, and then confronted the contact. This time the contact admitted downloading the images and said that he had committed no physical abuse. Officer B reported the admission to seniors, then escalated the issue to a more senior level to ensure a strong and appropriate response to the allegations. Officer B resigned from SIS but completed work on this case first, delivering evidence from the contact’s cache to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) before the end of their [sic] employment.
“f. Following the establishment of IICSA [CSA inquiry], Officer B approached SIS to ask whether the case had continued after his departure and would form part of SIS’ disclosure to the Inquiry. He was invited to draft his own summary to supplement SIS’ records on the case. At that time Officer B said that after reporting the confession to seniors he had concerns that the evidence may not be being taken seriously and that the SIS response might not be strong enough.
“g. In fact, SIS disclosure searches show that Officer B had been successful in persuading seniors of the seriousness of the issue and a detailed report had been sent to senior government contacts. Following that report SIS ended all involvement with the contact and reported the matter to law enforcement (via CEOP) for investigation. Officer B also rightly highlighted the lack of a formal child protection policy in SIS at the time and the lack of guidelines available to them [sic] in managing this issue. This has now been addressed.
“h. Searches show that after the referral to CEOP and the application of the Full Code Test, on the evidence available, law enforcement found there was insufficient evidence for a conviction. Therefore law enforcement took no further action against the individual. SIS maintained its position to end contact with the individual.”
Despite the evident differences between “Officer B” and his former employer, the inquiry is only intending to call the “corporate” anonymous witness from MI6, and not Officer B.
“a. SIS became aware that a foreign national with whom SIS had contact overseas was in possession of a video clip which may show a child having sexual contact with an animal. The SIS officer who discovered this rightly concluded that they should follow the provisions of the Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy. They then correctly applied the policy, preventing inadvertent exposure of the material to other staff and reporting the issue to the relevant areas for investigation.
“b. The clip was reviewed more fully under appropriate conditions and found to show a boy (likely of around 10 years of age) attempting to have sexual relations with a chicken. The boy does not appear to be under duress. No words are spoken but there is a lot of laughter, including from the boy involved in the act and a friend of similar age who watches the activity. SIS did not possess the necessary date to establish when and where the footage was recorded, or who was responsible.
“c. The video was found to be part of a popular social media platform which the owner of the device shared with other members of a group and no evidence pointed to them having been involved in its production. There was no evidence that the individual had been in possession of any other material of this nature. Based on those findings, SIS officers assess that the video did not likely represent a recording of child abuse and there was insufficient information to pursue the matter further. A record of the investigation was kept and a copy of the video clip was held securely in case of future developments.”
MI6’s paedophile files say nothing about Maurice Oldfield, the former chief of the overseas intelligence agency, despite persistent claims that he was a paedophile and being linked to a cover-up of child sexual abuse at Kincora boys’ home in Northern Ireland.
An anonymous corporate witness for MI6 witness tells the inquiry in a statement: “No material was found on the SIS record to indicate the existence of either a ‘paedophile ring’ or attempts by HMG to conceal information relating to the existence of such a group.”
MI6 has disclosed its ‘child and vulnerable adult protection policy’, which says that ministerial approval is required to continue with an agent “involved in abusive conduct”.
These disclosures come after I revealed earlier in the month that MI5 had given secret information buried in its files about paedophile allegations against nine ‘VIPs’ – including six MPs – to the inquiry.
And yesterday, I revealed fresh evidence that Peter Hayman, the late diplomat and MI6 officer, escaped prosecution in 1978 for distributing obscene material through the post after his solicitor, Sir David Napley, personally lobbied the then director of public prosecutions, Sir Thomas Hetherington.
Mark Watts (@MarkWatts_1) is the co-ordinator of the FOIA Centre.
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