Peter Morrison: Thatcher 'did not question child abuse claim MP'

Peter Morrison Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Peter Morrison was the Tory MP for Chester until 1992

Margaret Thatcher felt it was not necessary to question a Tory MP over allegations he had a sexual interest in "small boys", an inquiry has heard.

The claims surfaced about the late MP for Chester, Peter Morrison, in the mid-1980s, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse heard.

Lord Robert Armstrong said he assumed police knew of any allegations after reports he was arrested in 1983.

But Peter Morrison was never questioned by the police, the inquiry heard.

Lord Armstrong, who was cabinet secretary at the time, told the inquiry it appeared the then prime minister Mrs Thatcher did not want him to take any further action, and it was not necessary for Mr Morrison to be questioned by the chief whip.

Thatcher PPS

He said had Peter Morrison been a government minister in a "sensitive" department such as defence or the foreign office, it would have been a "serious matter to think about".

Image caption Margaret Thatcher felt it was not necessary to question Peter Morrison, the inquiry heard

Lord Armstrong was asked by inquiry counsel Brian Altman QC: "To the suggestion that this was all just a cover-up of Peter Morrison, and his activities by the political establishment in particular, what would you say?"

Lord Armstrong said: "I was certainly not aware of any cover-up, and Peter Morrison had emphatically denied the truth of any of this stuff, and had said that he would sue if any publication was made."

Mr Altman said: "But that was to accept Peter Morrison's word, and take it on trust, wasn't it?"

'Penchant for boys'

Lord Armstrong replied: "That appears to be what the Conservative party did."

Image copyright UK Parliament
Image caption Lord Robert Armstrong said he was not aware of any "cover-up"

Mr Altman: "If looking at matters another way Lord Armstrong, [that] the allegations were true, not merely that he had a penchant for small boys, but that he was putting into practice his sexual preferences, there were children who were at risk. Do you agree?

Lord Armstrong: "If that were so it would be true."

Peter Morrison was MP for Chester from 1974 to 1992, and was knighted in February 1991. He died in 1995.

The inquiry continues.

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