Police dismissed Tom Watson's 2012 abuse claims within two months

Tom Watson Image copyright PA

Claims by Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson of a link between a paedophile group and a current government minister were dismissed by police within two months, the BBC has learnt.

Panorama has obtained police emails sent shortly after Mr Watson's statement to the Commons in 2012.

They concluded that there was no evidence the minister was guilty of any criminal complicity.

Mr Watson has made no immediate comment on the emails' dismissal.

He has been criticised for allegations made during his campaign on behalf of victims of child abuse.

'Paedophile network'

The statement concerning the current minister came during prime minister's questions in October 2012.

Mr Watson said a file of evidence seized in the early 1990s contained "clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring".

He added: "One of its members boasts of his links to a senior aide of a former prime minister, who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad.

"The leads were not followed up, but if the file still exists I want to ensure that the Metropolitan Police secure the evidence, re-examine it and investigate clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10."

The claim dates back to the 1970s, when the political aide was in his teens. However, he later entered politics and is now a government minister.

Following Mr Watson's statement, police obtained the files from Metropolitan Police archive and examined them for evidence of any offences.

In December 2012 the police emails seen by the BBC concluded there was "no evidence of offending linked to [the minister] held within the files".

They went on: "There is not any further material in the file to support the inference to any level of criminal complicity on behalf of [the minister]."

Abuse convictions

This conclusion has never been made public. The Metropolitan Police had said in a statement that it did not publish an announcement on every allegation it investigated, adding that it was "checking records to ascertain the circumstances of the allegation".

The files on which Mr Watson based his Commons statement were seized as part of an investigation into the paedophile ring and centred on senior social worker Peter Righton in the early 1990s.

Mr Watson was briefed on their content, before making his statement, by Peter McKelvie, a former child protection manager who has described himself as a "whistleblower".

Mr McKelvie has told the BBC he did not claim to Mr Watson that there had been a "Westminster paedophile ring".

He also pointed out that the police investigations which followed the Commons statement had led to convictions of two men who were part of the original paedophile ring.

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