Leon Brittan and 'Dickens dossier' claims

By Tom Symonds
Home Affairs correspondent

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image captionLeon Brittan was a key figure in the Thatcher governments

In recent years Leon Brittan's name has been drawn into the growing national debate about historical child abuse.

In 1983, as Conservative home secretary, he is believed to have received letters and documents, often described as a "dossier", from the Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens, alleging that prominent people were paedophiles.

A Home Office review completed last year by Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, found suggestions in government documents that Lord Brittan had received "letters" from Mr Dickens in late 1983 and January 1984.

One Home Office document discovered referred to a "dossier of letters".

'Without foundation'

The review concluded Lord Brittan had sent the MP a formal reply in March 1984, stating that the material had been examined by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and two cases might result in prosecutions.

However, the review failed to find the "Dickens Dossier" or any clear evidence of what Lord Brittan had done after receiving it.

The review also failed to discover whether Lord Brittan was passed the names of prominent people.

In July last year, Lord Brittan said in a statement suggestions he had "failed to deal adequately" with "the bundle of papers containing allegation of serious impropriety" he received from Mr Dickens were "completely without foundation".

He said the papers had been passed to the relevant Home Office officials "for examination" and confirmed he had written to Mr Dickens in March 1984 informing him of the DPP's conclusions.


However, in the same statement Mr Brittan was forced to confirm reports he had been questioned by police.

This was in connection with an alleged rape of a woman in 1967 at a flat in London.

The woman was over the age of 18 at the time of the alleged incident. Mr Brittan said the allegation was "wholly without foundation".

The allegation is being investigated by officers from the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command.