Free information index
Dear Metropolitan Police,
Please will you kindly tell me who asked for Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll to be removed from the inquiry below?
Dear Mr Mortimer,
Thank you for your email of 1 November providing links to newspaper reports about an officer who was allegedly moved from investigating child abuse allegations in Lambeth.
I must explain that neither Government Ministers nor officials can comment on or intervene in individual cases or the operational decisions taken by the police. Operational matters are the responsibility of the Chief Officer of the force concerned and you may, therefore, wish to raise this matter with the Metropolitan Police.
Safeguarding and Vulnerable People Unit
Paedo MP cover-up claim: Top cop removed from sex abuse probe after naming politicians as suspects
The officer suddenly found himself booted off the case and put on a disciplinary after revealing politicians were among the suspects
Tasked with flushing out paedophiles preying on vulnerable youngsters at children’s homes, Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll relished the challenge.
But the officer suddenly found himself booted off the case and put on a disciplinary after revealing politicians were named among the suspects.
At least one of the figures is understood to have been an MP.
And former Labour councillor Anna Tapsell claims she was visited by a police chief to “warn her off” after she raised concerns that detectives would not properly investigate allegations of paedophile activity in care homes.
Mr Driscoll launched his probe into child sex abuse claims in the South London borough of Lambeth in 1998.
But he claims Scotland Yard began meddling as soon as the politicians were named.
The officer, now spearheading the fresh investigation into teenager Stephen Lawrence’s murder, said: “I was unhappy with the interference of some senior officers who did not appear to have a logical connection to my investigation into child sex abuse in Lambeth.
“There were allegations made by several people that named politicians had been involved but I never had a chance to investigate them because I was moved before I could do so.”
Asked if there was a cover-up of child sexual abuse in Lambeth by Scotland Yard, he said: “You would need an investigation to establish that.”
And asked if it was true that a file of evidence naming politicians as suspects and others was lost, he replied: “I handed the file to an officer and I have no knowledge where it went after that.”
Mr Driscoll was yesterday supported by Ms Tapsell, a chairwoman of Lambeth’s social services committee who has highlighted sexual abuse of children in the borough’s care for more than two decades.
She said: “When I learned that Clive was being removed, not only from the case but also from Lambeth, I realised that the Met were caving in to political pressure that was far more powerful than Lambeth Council.
“I was aware of allegations about an MP and the Met’s failure to act on those allegations and its apparent desire to silence those who called for them to be investigated fully was deeply shocking to me.
"Council employees who tried to expose staff they suspected of sexual abuse were sidelined and ignored.
“At the same time alleged perpetrators were moved or allowed to leave for financial misconduct or other misdemeanours, instead of for the abuse.
"This meant many children never received the justice they deserved.”
After Mr Driscoll’s removal, Ms Tapsell told how she raised fears about the depth of the investigation into sex abuse claims at Brixton’s Angell Road children’s home and South Vale youth assessment centre in West Norwood during a meeting of the Community Police Consultative Group.
She alleges a high-ranking officer later arrived at her home.
Ms Tapsell added: “I doubt whether I was the only person to be visited by a senior police officer in an attempt to warn me off.
"I had cast doubt on the Met’s inclination to get to the bottom of the paedophile activity within Lambeth’s care system.
“It had outraged a high ranking officer who had spoken at that meeting. That resulted in an unpleasant visit to my home by another senior officer.
“I have found the minutes of that meeting in the archives of Lambeth’s CPCG but no mention is made of the high-ranking officer’s contribution and the tape recording is also missing.”
Labour MP John Mann, a former Lambeth councillor, said last night: “It is essential that an outside force conducts a full investigation into these claims.”
Mr Driscoll, who has had a distinguished career in the Met for three decades, told how disciplinary proceedings – known as a regulation 15 notice or a 163 form – were started against him after he named the politicians in a confidential meeting with council officials in the late 90s.
He said the action followed a complaint by an executive on the council. The officer was also moved from Lambeth.
The detective was investigated and questioned under caution by other officers.
Mr Driscoll added: “I was handed a 163 form. It was revoked after they moved me and all disciplinary action was dropped.”
The Met set up a five year investigation into sexual abuse linked to Lambeth social care called Operation Middleton.
It was a joint probe with the council and was based in the town hall, leading to criticism that the Met were working too closely with the organisation that had employed abusers.
Officers traced 200 victims between 1998 to 2003 and the probe secured three convictions.
A total of 19 suspects were never identified, fuelling fears a paedophile ring had operated involving men from outside the care system.
Michael John Carroll, the former boss of the Angell Road home, was arrested in 1998 by Merseyside police for abuse spanning decades.
By that time Ms Tapsell had spent more than 10 years highlighting his case after she discovered Lambeth bosses let him run children’s homes until 1991 despite executives learning in 1986 he was a convicted paedophile.
In 1994, she wrote to Elizabeth Appleby QC, who had been commissioned to head a probe into sex abuse and misconduct in the borough.
Ms Tapsell told the judge that Carroll, who had not at that point been arrested, was “protected” by Lambeth social services bosses along with paedophile Les Paul who worked in South Vale.
Paul was jailed for two and a half years in 1994 for abusing three boys including one from the children’s home.
Ms Tapsell wrote: “Les Paul took little boys home and on holiday, just as Carroll did with the full knowledge of area staff. The examples are numerous.
“Almost all the internal abuse issues have involved collusion across divisions.
"I have no doubt Angell Road may have been used for organised child abuse which involved adults other than staff.
"This view is reinforced by the strong investment that officers and politicians have in blocking any effective investigation.”
Ms Appleby declined to comment.
Clare Whelan, a Lambeth Tory councillor since 1990, claims she was repeatedly ignored by police when she tried to highlight the Carroll case.
She added: “I was never confident that it was all properly investigated.
“It took far too long for police to investigate and I had to see three sets of officers before they did anything. Even then they did not do anything really.”
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “We are unable to comment on detailed allegations at this time without the opportunity to research these allegations.
"However, if any new evidence should come to light it will be investigated.”
* If you are an adult who suffered child abuse and want professional help call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, email firstname.lastname@example.org text 88858.
Distinguished detective who snared Stephen Lawrence killers
Clive Driscoll has enjoyed a distinguished 34-year career as a police officer.
The widely-respected detective helped restore the Metropolitan Police’s damaged name with his successful probe into two of Stephen Lawrence’s killers.
Dad Neville Lawrence backed the officer in 2012 after Gary Dobson and David Norris were convicted of Stephen’s 1993 murder.
Mr Lawrence said: “He seemed committed and confident. That’s all I need to know, that you believe in what you’re doing.”
Mr Driscoll started his career as a PC at Sutton in South London before being promoted to detective sergeant in Brixton in 1987.
He was later transferred to Scotland Yard and put in charge of policy for sexual offences, domestic violence, child protection and the paedophile unit.
He returned to South London to work in child protection before being promoted to detective chief inspector on the racial and violent crime taskforce in Fulham in 2003.
He was then appointed senior investigating officer in Operation Fishpool, the re-investigation into Stephen’s murder.
After a jury finally convicted Gary Dobson and David Norris, Mr Driscoll said: “It has been a joy and a privilege to work with the Lawrences.
"They are happy. I always said I wanted to get it to a jury. We’ve done our very best.”