A former weekly editor has claimed his newspaper’s office was raided by Special Branch in the 1980s after it began working on a story about politicians involved with a paedophile group.
Don Hale was editor of the Bury Messenger in the early 1980s when he was handed a dossier on political figures who allegedly supported the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE).
The dossier was handed to him by the late Labour MP and MEP Barbara Castle and, says Don, listed around 16 high-profile politicians who were supportive of PIE’s aims.
However when Don attempted to obtain official reaction to some of the claims, he says a high-level operation kicked into gear to silence them.
First, he received a visit from the then Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith, now widely believed himself to have been a notorious paedophile.
Recalled Don: “Cyril tried to persuade me that it was ‘all poppycock’.
“He said Barbara had her ‘knickers in a twist’ since leaving the House and had become bored with wine lakes and sugar mountains in Europe. He played down the whole episode and wanted an assurance that I wouldn’t run anything.
He added: “I couldn’t give that and he went away very disappointed.”
However Don says the offices of his paper, then owned by Eddy Shah but since merged with the Newsquest-owned Bury Times, were then raided by Special Branch.
He claims officers warned him of imprisonment if he failed to hand over the secret papers obtained from Mrs Castle, saying any publication of the story could constitute a threat to national security.
Said Don: “I was sworn to secrecy by Special Branch at the risk of jail if I repeated any of the allegations.”
Don’s revelations, which were published in this week’s Daily Star Sunday, follow claims of a cover-up of another dossier detailing a Westminster paedophile ring, which the late Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens had handed to the then Home Secretary, Leon Brittan.
Baroness Castle of Blackburn was a Cabinet minister in Harold Wilson’s Labour government before leaving Parliament to become an MEP in 1979.
Don, who went on to edit the Matlock Mercury, added: “I had got to know Barbara very well and she was a real firebrand and when she got the bit between her teeth she would not let it go.
“We had talked about a potential paedophile ring with MPs before but she said no one would listen and the national papers didn’t want to know so she asked me if I would take a look and run a story from her point of view.
“When I met Barbara again, she apologised for the ‘hassle’ caused and reluctantly admitted she was fighting a formidable foe.”