Suffolk: Drive to discover more about child sex predator Peter Righton’s time in Suffolk and the links to national abuse inquiries

Peter Righton. Photo PA Peter Righton. Photo PA

Thursday, August 7, 2014
11:10 AM

For more than 20 years, Peter McKelvie has fought a largely anonymous battle to expose the despicable crimes child sex predator Peter Righton committed.

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Peter McKelvie. Photo BBCPeter McKelvie. Photo BBC

Now, with the assistance of crusading Labour MP Tom Watson, Mr McKelvie has been able to bring the truth into the public domain.

Mr McKelvie today said it was crucial to discover more about Righton’s links with Suffolk.

The former child protection manager for Hereford and Worcester Social Services believes Righton’s stay in the county could provide the missing pieces that connect other inquiries across the country.

Righton retreated to Suffolk, living near Eye for several years, following his conviction for child pornography in September 1992.

Exactly how long the disgraced child care guru remained in the county, where he went, and how many children he abused, is shrouded in uncertainty.

An obituary after Righton’s death in 2007 at the age of 81 stated he had moved back to Hamworthy in Dorset four years earlier.

Whenever he left Suffolk, it is inconceivable that he did not continue to abuse many children during his years in the county.

Earlier this year, one Suffolk man told the EADT and Ipswich Star how Righton sexually assaulted him as a child.

Mr McKelvie said: “Peter Righton was a very well-connected paedophile with unlimited access to children’s institutions

“It is imperative to find out if he continued in Suffolk the hidden life he left behind in Worcestershire and I would like anyone who knew of his movements in Suffolk between 1993 and 2000 to get in touch.

“Righton took flight from Evesham in Worcestershire in 1992 after his arrest, and took refuge in Eye.

“He already had a connection with Suffolk because of his passion for the works of Benjamin Britten and, in particular, Britten’s opera, Death in Venice, a story of the love of a man for a young boy.

“Righton and his circle were very regular visitors to Snape Maltings and saw themselves, according to Righton’s diaries, as part of (a high society set).

“Righton died without facing a criminal trial for the abuse of dozens of boys, whose abuse he recorded in sickening detail in his diaries, entitled Some Boys.

”Today, many questions remain over how Righton managed to escape justice during his lifetime. The same questions are being asked about Savile, Sir Cyril Smith and Sir Peter Morrison, which is why survivors and campaigners are seeking an urgent independent inquiry into organised networks of abuse by powerful individuals of the most vulnerable children in our society. “

Liz Davies, the whistleblower who exposed the Islington care system abuse scandal in the early 1990s, sounded the alarm over Righton’s links to Suffolk 20 years ago.

Now a senior lecturer in child protection at London Metropolitan University, Ms Davies was one of the driving forces behind the calls for a national inquiry.

She recalls coming to Eye in the early 1990s to follow up allegations linking Islington and Righton to the county.

Ms Davies said: “I was involved in investigating Peter Righton after he had already been convicted of possession of abusive images of children.

“I liaised with Suffolk Social Services and the police and requested he was removed from that house, because literally thousands of Islington children were sent around there on holiday as part of what was called The Islington Suffolk Project.

“They had holidays when we know Peter Righton had a house there. We requested that this man should not be living there.”

If you knew Righton during his time in Suffolk, or have any information about his activities while in the county, telephone Colin Adwent on 01473 324791 or e-mail colin.adwent@archant.co.uk

Hugely influential and with powerful friends, child care expert Righton abused children with impunity for years.

After a 1992 conviction for possessing paedophile magazines and indecent images of children he came to live in Suffolk.

In the intervening years, Righton has become one of the central figures in what is an emerging acknowledgement that a paedophile network operating at the highest levels in society had been abusing children, particularly those in care.

Righton’s name has become synonymous with that ring.

Whether it was a number of groups loosely connected or one major organisation with various human spurs leading from it has still to be established.

What can be deduced from the avalanche of information which has come out over the past two years is that Righton was firmly believed to have been at the epicentre of it.

In October 2012, during a parliamentary question, Labour MP Tom Watson suggested there was evidence from Righton’s conviction of a “powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10”.

Throughout the next 21 months a trickle of suspicion turned into a torrent of reality as national figures such as Jimmy Savile and Cyril Smith were unmasked as prolific child abusers. The outcry over alleged cover-ups culminated in Home Secretary Theresa May announcing an independent Hillsborough-style inquiry last month into accusations of betrayal of child sex abuse victims by the authorities.

Righton had coated himself in the veneer of respectability, becoming the country’s foremost authorities on child care. In reality, however, he was one of the founder members of the now reviled Paedophile Information Exchange which attempted to make a case for paedophilia to be brought into the mainstream in the 1970s.

Righton was member number 51.

He was also the co-author of a book Extracts From Perspectives on Paedophilia in which a chapter is said to compare an attraction to children to “a penchant for redheads”.

Righton, previously of Evesham, Worcestershire, is now acknowledged to have been a prolific child abuser.

However, Peter McKelvie, a former child protection manager for Hereford and Worcestershire Social Services, has spent many years trying to get the truth revealed.

He was the source for Mr Watson’s parliamentary question and involved in a BBC Inside Story documentary which exposed Righton 20 years ago.

Mr McKelvie said “At the time of his arrest in 1992 for possession of indecent images of children, Peter Righton was about to undertake work for the Department of Health as an expert in child care.

“He had long been at the very top of the social work profession and his positions included consultant to the National Children’s Bureau, Director of Education at the National Institute of Social Work and a lecturer on social work practice at the Open University.

“A BBC documentary The Secret Life of a Paedophile aired in 1994 laid bare the truth about Righton, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a dangerous and well connected predatory paedophile who in his lifetime sexually abused boys in the UK, Sweden, Malta, Denmark and Holland.”

A confidential report stated the most significant material found at his home which directly linked him to sexually abusing boys were letters he received from a number of men in which mutual abuse of victims was discussed. There was also written evidence linking him to paedophile information exchanges in Sweden and Norway, as well as organised abuse of young boys in Gozo and Malta.

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